MARQUETTE - Adorno Amato "Babe" Salani, 92, of 222 S. Fifth Street, Marquette, passed away, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, two days before his 93rd birthday at his home, with his family by his side and under the care of Lake Superior Hospice.
Babe was born on Sept. 14, 1919, in Franklin Mine, Michigan, a son of the late Alepio and Ada (Falana) Salani. "Babe" came by the nickname that followed him all his life as the cherished last child of his Italian immigrant parents. He was his mother's "bambino." He was born in Franklin Mine and moved to his family home in Hancock as a child, a home he resided at until he moved his family to Marquette in 1957. "Babe" was about family and being Italian. His stories of growing up during the depression and prohibition entertained his family and many friends over the years. Many of these stories were recently taped for the future by Dr. Russ Magnaghi of Northern Michigan University, which made "Babe" proud.
At age 22 "Babe" married Dorothy Ellen Laity of Atlantic Mine and together they lived in his family home in Hancock where they had two children, Patricia and Joan. They were married for 60 years. Being Italian, "Babe" always wanted boys, but had to wait until later in life when he acquired son-in-laws, whom he loved and respected. Marrying into "Babe's" Italian family was certainly an adjustment, but the years of family dinners, heated discussions, singing and toasts have left everyone with many fond memories.
"Babe" was known for his loyalty. He worked for over 30 years with the Vollwerth Meat Company of Hancock and later in Marquette. Even after retirement from the company, "Babe" continued to promote the company to anyone who would listen and family members never admitted to buying anything else. His favorite Christmas gift to his grandchildren over the years were gift boxes of Vollwerth sausages straight from Hancock. When he moved to Marquette in 1957, it was to take the sales managers position for the newly opened Vollwerth Meat Company in Marquette. His easy going, fun loving and honest personality made him a success with the company and all of his customers missed him when he retired.
In his retirement "Babe" devoted himself to volunteering at Marquette General Hospital. If you were coming into the hospital on a Wednesday morning, you always had a conversation with him and if you were from the Copper Country, he always knew someone in your family.
But if we are all to remember "Babe" it will be for the voice that God blessed him with. As a young boy, he sang all over the Copper Country; at St. Joseph's Church, at home, and at his favorite place, the Elks Club. He raised his daughters with an appreciation for all music, especially opera.
While he sang in the Copper Country, it was really when he moved to Marquette that he really mastered his voice under the guiding hand of Fr. Otto Sartorelli, assistant pastor at St. Peters Cathedral and choir director. Besides becoming "Babe's" mentor, he was a personal friend. There were many ravioli dinners with wine and singing over the years.
"Babe" was a member of St. Peter's Cathedral and sang in the church choir for 54 years. As she became an adult, his daughter Joan joined him in singing in the choir which they both loved. When he was forced to give it up because of his health, it was sad for both of them. Thousands of people were brought to tears regularly when "Babe" started singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth" or "Oh Holy Night" on Christmas Eve. He was also a member of the Marquette Male Chorus for many years. He and Dorothy enjoyed traveling to the "Big Sings." He was a former Marquette Elks Lodge, the Kiwanis club and later Golden K Club.
In April of 2002, "Babe" married his current wife, Lois, who brought to him love, companionship and a new adventure in family. Lois' children loved him and he brought them many fun memories and stories of being Italian. They will all miss him. During his illness, Lois nursed him with love, care and dignity and helped him do it "my way."
"Babe's" passing is truly the end of an era for the many family members who have been left behind. To all of the grandchildren, nieces, nephews and Copper Country relatives, he was Grandpa or Uncle "Babe." Being the last of his family, he brought to all the traditions, loyalty and sense of what it means to be family to be proud of the heritage of his immigrant parents.
He is survived by his wife, Lois of Marquette; one daughter, Pat (Michael) Black of Marquette; four step-children, Laurel Ann Thompson of Green Bay, Wis., Susan Lois Sundblad of Marquette, John William (Lisa) Sundblad of Indiana, and Paul David Sundblad of Helena, Mont.; three grandchildren, Kim Schaefer, Dean Schaefer and Amber Pitcher; four step-grandchildren, Tina Marie Morissette, Kathryn Lyn Baxter, Ryan Adam Cross, and Edward John Sundblad; three great-grandchildren, Timothy Lee Pitcher, Lisa Ann Hytinen, and Dean William Schaefer II; two step-great- grandchildren, Violet May Chaltry and Ivy Chaltry; and two great-, great-grandchildren, William James Just and Trevor Raymond Just. Also surviving are numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Dorothy Salani on July 15, 2000; a daughter and son-in-law, Joan and Dick Normand in February 2012 as well as two brothers named Louis and a sister Mary.
The Salani family will greet relatives and friends on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Bishop's Room of St. Peter Cathedral. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the cathedral with the Rev. Ryan Ford officiating. Entombment will take place in the Holy Cross Cemetery Mausoleum.
Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are kindly asked to consider the Lake Superior Hospice Association, 914 W. Baraga Ave., Marquette, MI 49855 in Babe's memory.
The Canale-Tonella Funeral Home is assisting the family where memories may be shared at canalefuneral.com.