Willis Joseph Bertolino
June 24, 2020
HURLEY, Wis. - Willis Joseph Bertolino, 94, of Montreal passed away on April 6, 2020.
He was born on St. Joseph's Day (the Patron Saint of Families), March 19, 1926, to Catholic parents, Peter and Evelyn (Blise) Bertolino in Pence. He attended school in Pence and Hurley. From 1944 to 1946 he served his country during World War II in the U.S. Army in Oahu, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Theatre. Following the war, he worked in Montreal's iron ore mine for fifteen years until it closed in 1962. For twenty years he worked at White Pine's copper mine as a shift foreman until he retired in 1986.
On July 24, 1948, Willis married Isabelle "Belle" Wyzlic at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Ironwood, Michigan with the Reverend Frank Ronkowski officiating. She preceded him in death on May 14, 2018.
Willis loved the outdoors and spending time at his camp outside of Upson, hunting ruffed grouse and deer, trapping, cutting firewood, and going four-wheeling. He also enjoyed snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fishing. Willis was an avid Packer fan. He was a gardener and annually preserved Italian antipasto and hot peppers and made his own Italian salami. He also liked to play smear and poker. At home, he was often seen watching the birds, which he loved to feed, from a glider swing he had constructed. If you came to visit him, he'd have a beer in hand and readily offer you a cold one. He referred to himself as a jack-of-all-trades, doing everything from welding, woodworking, and completing home repairs to wiring, plumbing, painting, and construction.
"Papa Willie," as his grandsons and great-grandchildren called him, was a family-focused father who loved nothing better than family gatherings. He modeled his beliefs and imparted his practices on: "Treat others as you would wish to be treated," "If you can't say anything good about someone, then don't say anything at all," and "to each his own." He had the ability to make others feel comfortable and cared for. His compassion, strong will, perseverance, and eventual acceptance of limitations in his later years were admired and revered character traits. He possessed what Tom Brokaw alluded to in his book, "The Greatest Generation," "perseverance, a hard work ethic, and a goodness to help one's fellow man."
He was preceded in death by his parents, Peter and Evelyn Blise; wife, Belle; brothers, Robbie and Charlie Bertolino; and sisters, Jennie Ricca and Millie O'berto.
Willis is survived by his son, David (Alice) Bertolino; daughter, Barbara (Rob) Winn; three grandsons, Cory, Ryan (Lindsey), and David Winn; two great-granddaughters, Emily and Kaitlyn; four great-grandsons, Aiden, Mason, Gavin, and Hudson; sisters-in-law, Dorothy Wyzlic and Jeanne Tibaldo; brother-in-law, Barts Tibaldo; and many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hurley, on June 26 at 3 p.m., with Father Frank Kordek, OFM as celebrant. Full Military honors will be conducted at St. Mary's Cemetery following the Mass by the Hurley VFW Post 1580 Honor Guard. Due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be no visitation, and masks are encouraged for all who attend.
The family has chosen McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home of Ironwood to honor Willis' legacy of life. You can leave a condolence or a tribute at mckevittpatrickfuneralhome.com