Samuel Azzarelli

November 5, 1921 - October 6, 2012
Kankakee, IL



Thursday, October 11, 2012
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM CDT
Schreffler Funeral Homes
Kankakee Location
1900 W. Court St.
Kankakee, IL 60901
(815) 932-2421
Driving Directions


Friday, October 12, 2012
10:00 AM to 10:45 AM CDT
St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church
953 S. 9th Ave.
Kankakee, IL 60901
(815) 933-7177


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.

Hospice of Kankakee Valley
482 Main Street NW
Bourbonnais, IL
(815) 939-4141

Folds of Honor Foundation


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Distinctive Floral Design by Schreffler
(888) 339-1588

Life Story / Obituary


Samuel Azzarelli was a kind and gentle man, always willing to lend a helping hand to the underdog. A pillar of the community, he served his country bravely in World War II, and was a generous supporter of countless community programs. He was also a devoted family man, and never happier than when surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and extended family. Sam will be forever missed; his generous spirit has left an indelible mark on the hearts of all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

Samuel was born on November 5, 1921, to proud parents Raymond and Carmella Azzarelli. Raymond and Carmella were Italian immigrants who had settled down in Kankakee, Illinois. They earned their living selling vegetables on Station Street, and young Sam often helped out at the family shop. Raymond and Carmella were faithful Christians, and passed their deep faith on to their children.

As a young man, Sam decided to serve his country by joining the U.S. Army. The time was World War II, and Sam was a private first class in the 39th Infantry, 9th Division, Company D. He was stationed in Italy, and battled his way through Normandy, France, and Belgium, crossing into Germany on D-Day. His division met the Russians at the Elb River, and his jeep was the first to cross the bridge at Remagen into Germany. For his bravery, Sam was awarded the Silver Battle Star and the Bronze Star (Combat Recipient and Infantry Badge Recipient).

After a safe return home to the United States, Sam went into the construction trade. He helped to establish Azzarelli Construction Company, a company which grew from Azzarelli Trucking and Excavating and Azzarelli Material Company. It was a family business, co-owned by Sam, his father, and his brothers, Joseph, Bart, Pete, and John. Sam loved spending time with his brothers, and considered himself very lucky to be able to work with his family. He also was close to his sister, Josephine, who taught him how to care for others.

Before joining the Army, Sam started dating a young lady named Jean LaGesse. Sam and Jean fell in love, and were married on March 2, 1946, at St. Joseph Catholic church of Bradley, Illinois. In the years to come, Sam and Jean were blessed with seven children, four boys and three girls: Rick, Jim, Greg, Paula, Raymond, Jeanne, and Mary. Sam was thrilled to be a father, and volunteered his time coaching and sponsoring Limestone Little League teams when his kids played. For vacations, the family made many happy memories at destinations such as Bass Lake, Paw Paw, Florida, and even the World Fair in New York (this trip was made in the family station wagon).

In his free time, Sam liked to spend time outdoors, and was an avid vegetable gardener. He enjoyed golfing, and over the years played games with more than one PGA Professional – Arnold Palmer, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, and Chi Chi Rodriguez, among others – in professional-amateur tournaments and outings. Sam was also active in the community, and belonged to the Elks Lodge #627, the Moose Lodge #802, the Knights of Columbus, the Hundred Club, and the American Legion. He reached out to the community in innumerable ways, and his spirit of giving touched countless lives.

Recently, Sam was honored at multiple ceremonies for his community service and his service in the war. In response to student letters, he visited his granddaughter’s middle school (St. Joseph School), where he talked about his wartime experiences. The “Folds of Honor” scholarship was established in his honor, along with veteran Carl Kasler. At Kankakee Country Club, where Sam had been an active member since 1962, he was honored for his service to community and country at an event hosted by Riverside Medical Center. Sam attended many World War II reunions, most notably the 65th anniversary of his Division in Indianapolis. For this reunion, Sam boarded Honor Flight Chicago with his close friend, Don Wulff, to tour Washington, D.C., and was later welcomed home by his family at Midway Airport.

Last summer, the Chicago White Sox organization named Sam a “Hero of the Game,” in recognition of his service to the United States Army. Sam was lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, and a 54-year ticket holder. One of the highlights of his life was being able to attend Game 1 of the 2005 World Series with two of his children.

Closer to home, Sam enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his children and grandchildren. He was a regular fixture at his grandchildren’s games, and also attended annual events such as the Kankakee Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Humble, gentle, and kind, Sam was a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, and a loyal friend. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his beloved family and many friends.

Samuel J. Azzarelli entered into eternal life on October 6, 2012, surrounded by his beloved family. Sam’s family includes his wife, Jean; his sons and daughters-in-law, Rick and Vicki Azzarelli, Jim and Mary Azzarelli of Florida, and Greg and Julie Azzarelli of Kankakee; his daughters and sons-in-law, Paula and Phil Czernik, Jeanne and Jeff James, and Mary McGrath of Kankakee; 19 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; his sisters-in-law, Vivian (Bart) Azzarelli, Barbara (Joe) Azzarelli, and Betty (John) Azzarelli; and many nieces and nephews, including Jayne Azzarelli Korstick, one of his primary caregivers in recent months to whom the family is eternally grateful. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers; his sister; his brother-in-law, Frank Raspolich; his son, Raymond Azzarelli; and his son-in-law, George McGrath.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 11, at Schreffler Life Story Funeral Home, West Kankakee. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Kankakee, where he was a member, at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 12. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery. The Kankakee American Legion Post No. 85 will provide military graveside services. Memorials may be made to Hospice of Kankakee and the “Folds of Honor” Scholarship Organization. Please visit Sam’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can learn more about his life, share a favorite memory or photo, and sign the online guestbook.