John Croce
1924 - 2015
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John Croce

John Croce passed away August 23, 2015 surrounded by his family. He was born February 8, 1924 in Seattle to Nazzareno and Rosa Croce. He graduated from Franklin High School one year early in 1941. He served in the military from 1943-1946, in the U.S. Seventh Army, which eventually liberated Dachau Concentration Camp.

He was in the food business for all of his life. In 1971, he founded Pacific Food Importers and later Big John's PFI retail store. He worked regularly until the age of 89, always setting a good example with his positive attitude.

Big John was a pillar of the local Italian community. He was very proud of his Italian heritage. The Sons of Italy was his favorite organization and he was a lifetime member of Seattle Fedele Lodge #1390. On behalf of the Lodge, he founded the annual wine festival, the fava bean dinner and the ciambotta dinner. He was a longtime winemaker, winning several local awards for his homemade Zinfandel. He also was knighted by the Italian Consulate as a "Cavaliere" which is awarded in recognition of service to the Italian Republic.

He loved food, drink and music. We will remember his tongue in cheek response if someone asked him how he was doing --

"I'm poor and nobody loves me." Big John enjoyed life everyday.

We will miss him all the time.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Rose Croce; children Holly (Bill Cochran), Cathy (Ken Volpone), Mike (Chris Croce); and grandchildren, Margo, Laura,

Melissa, John, Ryan and Danny; his sisters Mary and Sylvia; nieces Cristina (Curt Ryser) and Lisa (Warren Patterson) and Goddaughter Kristi Thorn. John was preceded in death by his parents, son John Jr. and his sister Lily.

A viewing will be held at Columbia Funeral Home, 4567 Rainier Avenue S. on Wednesday, August 26 from 4-8pm. We will be praying the Rosary at 7pm. Services will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Church in Seattle at 2800 S. Massachusetts St. on Thursday, August 27 at 11:30am with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers please send remembrances to Sons of Italy Fedele Lodge #1390's Seattle Fedele Scholarship Fund P.O. Box 94467, Seattle, WA, 98124 or charity of your choice.

Our family will always be grateful

for the care from Mileta Radunovic and associates at TLC Family Home.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26, 2015.
04:00 - 08:00 PM
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29 entries
September 2, 2015
Dearest Rose, Holly, Mike, Cathy and families, I am so sorry to hear of John's passing. My sincere condolence to you all. I am even more sorry that I could not attend the funeral as I am still in Croatia. Marina and I both send our love.
John Morovich
August 31, 2015
Our deepest sympathy in the loss of your loved one. Truly an inspirational man. May he rest in peace. God's blessings on each and every one of you. May the wonderful memories sustain you through the days ahead. Love, Bonnie (Bo) Antovich Skjonsberg and all of the Antovichs
August 27, 2015
So sad to hear of John's passing. He created a wonderful thing. A place of community where Seattleites could find wonderful products they could not find anywhere else in Seattle. The best cheese selection and a dry goods section rivaled by no market or store in town. I can't find anything like PFI since I left Seattle. His family works hard everyday to continue his hard work and legacy. They will miss you more than we, your customers, ever could. May you rest in peace knowing that you led a rich and wonderful life.
Tony Diaz
August 27, 2015
I am so sorry for your loss.
I too remember going into the store with my grandparents
(Joe and Nancy Terrana )
As a young child I loved the sights and smells and John was always so nice to me
Rest in Paradise
Lisa Bernardez
August 26, 2015
John, we will miss you at the club. Its been a pleasure knowing you.

sincerely, Gene and Linda Cherin
Gene Cherin
August 26, 2015
He was a great man to know. I consider myself fortunate to have spoken to him on a regular basis when I worked at PFI. He will be missed by all, especially to those who travel from all over the greater Puget Sound area to his "little gem" of a grocery store in Seattle.
Daryl Miller
August 26, 2015
Sending my deepest thoughts,hugs, prayers and respect to the family.
Gina Vendetti
August 26, 2015
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
August 26, 2015
As a kid growing up on Beacon Hill, I have wonderful memories of going to the old PFI in Garlic Gulch, that store with its great smells and good things to eat. And there was John Croce, bigger than life, a twinkle in his eye, wearing a big apron, wielding a big knife and with a big smile to boot. Thanks Big John for everything through the years, the many donations to the Carmelite Sisters, the gigs, the wine and all that joy!
Tony Yazzolino
August 26, 2015

Cathy, Holly and Mike
Bill and I were fortunate enough to have visited your dad on our last trip to Seattle. Mike was there was there, as well as your beautiful mother. John wasn't doing too too well, but he never lost that sparkle in his eye. I'll bet he and my dad are giving our precious Lord a refresher course on how to turn water into wine.
Much Love
Shirley Santora Buchholz - Surprise Az
August 26, 2015
Just heard of your Dad's passing, my heartfelt condolences to you, Margo and Laura. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Mary (DeFranco) Beattie
August 26, 2015
My thoughts will always be happy ones of Papa John. I always told him never to worry, everyone loves him. My prayers are with you all.
Elaine Volpone
August 26, 2015
The Croce family has my fond regards and condolences. I'm fortunate to have known John.
Theron Stevenson
August 25, 2015
Sending much love and deepest respect, in honor of a great man. Thinking of all of you and may God bless you and keep your family close in His arms. May you cherish the multitude of memories with your Papa/husband, dearest Mr. Croce. Love, The Roses - Jack and Claudia xoxox... Thank you, John for your guidance!
Jack Rose
August 25, 2015
I will always remember John. I know he is drinking vino and reminiscing with my Dad. My deepest sympathy to the entire Croce Family.
Gina Della-Rossa Dahlman
August 25, 2015
I forgot to sign my condolences.

Steve Aliment
Steve aliment
August 25, 2015
I'd like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Croce family. I was deeply saddened at the sudden news of Big John's death. He touched so many people and we were all richer for having known him. The love and support and adoration of his family, especially his children, carried him further than most. He will be missed but never forgotten.
August 25, 2015
Although I never knew John particularly well I have spent a lifetime knowing John because of my dad. They were childhood friends that never lost contact with each other. It is with much sadness I write this because I know it is the end of an era of what my dad would refer to as the "Beacon Hill Boys", John was the last to go. It must have been the wine! Please accept my condolences.
Ian MacKenzie
August 25, 2015
I love your family so much, my heart breaks for you love Tana
Tana Bakke
August 25, 2015
My deepest condolences to all the family. John was a great person; part of the soul of the Italian community. I will always remember his kindness and support to me personally, and to the community at large. I will miss him deeply, and so will we all. Such a strong and warm spirit was a privilege and a blessing to enjoy. Tony and Gail Longo
Tony Longo
August 25, 2015
Thanks, John, for your love of life and being a great, great friend to my dad. You will be missed by all the people lucky enough to know you. You always made me smile. Be at peace.
Linda Della Rossa
August 25, 2015
Big John may be gone from this life, but he is not forgotten. I'm privileged to have gotten to know him and his family.
Lyle George
August 25, 2015
Please accept my condolences to all of the Croce family..I have such fond memories!!!
Gary Lea
August 25, 2015
Cathy, so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. I know you will miss him, but he will always be with you in spirit.

Mary Volk
Mary Volk
August 25, 2015
John helped our family when we were starting a business. A close and dear friend of my late father and a truly great man. I have many fond memories from old PFI. I salute you friend.
Dan Cascioppo
August 25, 2015
Cathy and Family, I am so sorry for your loss. I never met your father, but have heard many wonderful stories from Christina Volpone Gerling. May your loving memories of him comfort you in days ahead.
Donna OBrien
August 25, 2015
WOW. One can not summarize a life, and Big John is harder yet. Truly one of the most amazing men I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working for. 11 of the best years of my life were spent working for Big John. He gave me a chance when I was out of work. I did warehouse work that first week, and then he invited me to join him at the old "New Italian Cafe" on Rainier Avenue. It was there over a glass of wine that he said he would hire me if I wanted to stay on, and gave me an additional $1.00 an hour raise! He paid a living wage to all of us there, and provided our healthcare. I remember telling my wife that I felt rich. John was paying $11.00 an hour in 1980! From Dearborn Street to 6th Avenue, PFI grew and grew while I was there. We picked up grapes every season from Tony Picardo so John could make his wine. We stored volumes of Greek Olives in his mothers basement as there was no room in our small warehouse back then in Garlic Gulch. He taught me how to sell from the heart because of a love of food. I was ramrodded into becoming a member of his beloved Sons of Italy, where I learned about how to cook for an Army. When I worked with John in the 80's, we were serving the ethnic communities in and around Seattle before the advent of "global" food awareness. The retail was mixed with the wholesale, so everyday was a parade of international faces buying the food from their cultures! What an education. John was fair and the best employer I ever had in my adult life. He came to my wedding reception, brought his wine, and blessed our union. When my first child was born, the total cost came to $3.89 because of the health insurance he provided. He was a link between the old world and the new. We worked to live, not lived to work! People and Employers like him have disappeared from our society, and he will be sorely missed! We'll miss you Bocio!
Tommy Bean
August 25, 2015
We are so sorry to hear of his passing Cathy. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Carlene and Ted Palsson
Carlene and Ted Palsson
August 25, 2015
The Vizzare Familia sends it's condolences and prayers to the whole Croce Familia....Heaven now has gained some tastey wine during dinner and communion now that Big John has arrived.....He will be missed
Vizzare Familia
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