Monday, October 5, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
11:00 AM EDT
St. Monica Catholic Church
4408 S. Westnedge Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Followed by a luncheon in the Life Story Center.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
WMU Gary Fund
1903 Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Edward Vincent Rossi, was born January 1, 1922, on the family farm in Center Ridge, Arkansas. He was the first of seven children born to Frank Rossi and Mary (Paladino), 2nd generation Italian immigrants. Edward grew up in this small ethnic community surrounded by numerous grandparents, especially his grandpa Romedio Rossi, aunts, uncles and cousins. He helped work the family farm that produced cotton, as well as food for the table. In later years they raised beef cattle.
He excelled at sports, primarily baseball which he played through high school. He was a well known southpaw pitcher for the Little Rock Doughboys, traveling the southern circuit. He tried out for the Milwaukee Braves and the Detroit Tigers, but arm problems sidelined a professional career.
Like so many, WWII changed his life’s direction. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp (predecessor of the US Air Force) in August 1942 and spent several months training at many different stateside bases. In October of 1944 he and his fellow crew members as part of the 494th Bomb Group, 865th Squadron, 7th Air Force flew their new B24J bomber west via Hawaii to the tiny island of Anguar, part of the Palau Island Group. From there he participated in bombing runs on targets in the Philippines. Ed, as the nose gunner, had a bird’s eye view of combat and helped defend the plane against enemy fighters. He was to earn the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions. Remarkably he kept an almost daily diary while in the service, as well as photos which were invaluable years later when he created a book of his wartime experiences.
Between missions he was sought after for his pitching abilities, winning numerous games against other outfits. He was fortunate to participate in exhibition games playing against visiting legends such as Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and others who were baseball legends. It was a wartime friendship on the island of Anguar with Vic Wertz and the verbal promise of a chance to play baseball and football at a northern university that were to shape his future life. Ed returned to Center Ridge in May 1945.
That fall he boarded a train and traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, home of Western Michigan University. With no paperwork of any kind or advanced notice he introduced himself to John Gill, the head of the university’s athletic department. Ed was enrolled, found a place to live, given a job, and most importantly an opportunity to play sports. His first football games were played barefoot. But it was in baseball that he really excelled as a southpaw pitcher.
While attending Western Michigan University, Ed met his future wife, Jean McCarty. True to form he proposed on the school’s pitcher’s mound. They were married September 3, 1949. Again true to form and in need of money he pitched a baseball game on their wedding night, a no hitter! He graduated with a BS Degree in Education in January 1950, and worked as an athletic coach and later a sales representative for Sutherland Paper Co. products. He pitched for Sutherland company team that won the Amateur National Baseball Championship in 1950. Ed and Jean were to remain in Kalamazoo, starting what was to become a successful State Farm Insurance Agency. They both supported Western Michigan University through their various sports scholarships and were regulars at home football games. He had phenomenal vegetable gardens which the whole family enjoyed, made his own wine, and was his most content when puttering around the yard, pruners in hand. After 40 years of hard work and commitment Ed retired in 1995, spending many winters in Florida.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years Jean, and children Mary (Bruce) Livingston of Sarasota, FL, Thomas (Conni) Rossi, Nancy (Wendell) Trantham, David (Gitte) Rossi, and Susan (Greg) McGrail all of the Kalamazoo area. Grandchildren include Heather (Eddie) Diaz, Jay Livingston, RaNae (Chris) Reed, Ross (Sarah) Trantham, Rylee Trantham, Tyler & Amanda McGrail, Peter & Thomas Rossi. Great-grandchildren include Jacob Diaz, Charlie & Samuel Trantham, Sienna Yates-Livingston
He also leaves behind siblings Gloria DeSalvo of Hot Springs, AR, Reverend Raymond Rossi of Hot Springs, AR and Marion Rossi of Center Ridge, AR. He was predeceased by sisters Louise Crews and Lucille Conway and brother, Charles Rossi.
During his life Edward was the ultimate optimist, wanting to believe the best in every person, looking on the positive side of every situation. He had a remarkable memory for names, and was a walking encyclopedia of sports information, some dating back to his childhood. He was generous with all he possessed and was the ultimate grandpa to his grandchildren. His memory will live on for years to come by all fortunate to have crossed his path.
Requiescat in pace.
Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Monday, October 5, 2015 from 5 – 8 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, October 6, 2015 11 AM at St. Monica Catholic Church. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Private burial will take place at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Please visit Ed’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo or WMU Gary Fund.