Reynolds John "Rey" Ballotti Sr.

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  • "Sometimes your grade school principal only knows the names..."
    - Kay (Brantley) Hawkins
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Our loving Dad passed away on March 30, 2014, after a courageous 3 year struggle with Lewy Body Disease. He was born on December 11, 1923 in Walsenburg, CO, and grew up there. He was the son of an immigrant Italian Coal Miner who said he would never bring his own son into the mines. He told Dad to stay in school and get an education, and that he did. Dad spoke only Italian until the 1st grade and gradually mastered the English Language. Once he did, he assisted our Grandfather in reading and spelling so he could take his test for Citizenship. He received his Citizenship when Dad was in the 6th grade and they were both very proud. In 1942, Dad graduated from St. Mary's High School in Walsenburg and with World War II on the rise, he immediately joined the Navy. He was sent to the Naval Air Station in Alameda, where he received training as a Pharmacist's Mate. After his schooling in Alameda, he was assigned to the USS Winged Arrow. This ship was designed to ferry troops and supplies to and from the war zone. He traveled extensively in Japan and ferried troops to many locations across the Pacific. Many were seriously ill or badly injured. While on the West Coast, on assignment at the Arcata Naval Air Station, he met the love of his life. Lorraine Hathaway was a student at Humbolt State College who just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was "Love at First Sight", and Mom and Dad were married in 1946 when he was discharged from the Navy. After the war, he and Mom lived in Chico while he attended Chico State College, majoring in Education. Douglas Whited, the then Superintendent of Rincon Valley School District, recruited him to teach, so he and Mom moved to Santa Rosa in 1951. His first job was teaching at Rincon Valley Elementary School. After two years, he was promoted to Principal of the expanding Village Elementary School. In 1955, he moved on to become the first Superintendent of the new Gravenstein Union School District in Sebastopol. He held that post for 25 years until his retirement in 1980. During those years, Mom and Dad raised their three children and spent many happy years together. Dad's biggest challenge came in 1984 when Mom became seriously ill with viral encephalitis. Dad became her caregiver and remained steadfast and devoted until her death in 2008. He never waivered in his love and care for her, she remained the love of his life. In some of his spare time, Dad loved to golf and also spent many hours in his large yard. He enjoyed watching both the San Francisco Giants and the 49er's on TV. Many afternoons he could be found tinkering on things in his garage. Dad was a humble man who never forgot his roots. He was raised by our wonderful Grandparents who taught him to work hard, respect others, be honest and live a life of integrity. He more than fulfilled those qualities. He was a kind and generous man with an easy smile and a fun sense of humor. He was a strict but caring father who loved us unconditionally. Dad was predeceased by his parents Ettore and Rose Ballotti and his sister, Margaret Ballotti. He is survived by one sister; Edna Crosson of Walsenburg, CO, his son; R. John (Erin) Ballotti, Jr. of Commerce, TX; two daughters; Rendi (Steve) Ballotti Straessler and Lisa (Gary) Bricker of Santa Rosa, grandchildren; Erin and Nick (Krystal) Straessler, Chelsea and Loren Bricker and Brianna, R.J. and Sean Ballotti. His three sweet little great grandchildren are Connor, Sadie and Easton Straessler. He is also survived by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. Our family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Neil Levin; Elizabeth and Staff of Canterbury Home and Steve Einstein, Kevin and others from Memorial Hospice, who all helped in Dad's care. Finally, we are forever indebted to the excellent staff at "Primrose" for their untiring devotion to their jobs. We greatly appreciate and would like to acknowledge "From the Heart" Caregiver's, Esther and Irene. Your one-on-one assistance was truly a labor of love. Each and everyone made Dad's journey more bearable with their knowledge, love and concern. "Thank You" for helping us cope and helping maintain his dignity. Dad, we love you and know you and Mom are together again. Watching you live your life has been an inspiration to us. Your legacy will live on. "Nothing is ever wholly lost. That which is excellent Remains forever a part of this Universe Ralph Waldo Emerson- Family and friends are invited to attend the Funeral Mass on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 10:30 A.M. at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church (1244 St. Francis Road, Santa Rosa, CA, 95409). A reception will follow. Private interment; Santa Rosa Memorial Park. LAFFERTY & SMITH COLONIAL CHAPEL (4321 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, CA, 95409) will provide visitation hours from 1:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. on Friday, April 25, 2014. A Vigil Service, Time of Reflection and Slide Show will commence at 7:00 P.M. in the main chapel. As an expression of sympathy, the family has requested Memorial Contributions be directed to Memorial Hospice (439 College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA, 95401), Primrose Living Fund (2080 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, CA, 95401) or his Parish, Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church (1244 St. Francis Road, Santa Rosa, CA, 95409). Arrangements entrusted to: LAFFERTY & SMITH COLONIAL CHAPEL, Directors (707)539.2921
Funeral Home
Lafferty Smith Colonial Chapel - Santa Rosa
4321 Sonoma Highway
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
(707) 539-2921
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from Apr. 24 to Apr. 26, 2014