Google is reindexing search results for our new site. We appreciate your patience during that process!

Deno Bonucchi Eulogy

Harry Crosby Eulogizes Deno Bonucchi (1993)

At Thorpe Abbotts when we complained about the bread we were served, the baker told us he needed a brick oven to do his job better. Horace Varian went through the records and found that the 100th did have a brick layer, a corporal named Deno Bonucchi.

From then on, the Deno was a busy man. He built the oven. He built a fireplace for an airmen’s club. He strengthened our bomb revetment. After V-E, when I thought our navigators, out of practice in celestial observations, would have to take us to the China-Burma-lndia, I asked Deno to build us a training building with two celestial observation domes. Dino took me seriously when I told him we needed the building in a hurry, and he built it overnight. For his many, many contributions to our well-being during those months, he received a Bronze Star.

After the war, Deno prospered, perhaps more than most of us. He was born in Vesale, Italy and did not come to America till he was fourteen, but he became one of the most fashionable brick contractors in Detroit. He did the work on the houses for Christine Ford and her father, Henry Ford, III. He did some of the most opulent homes in swank Grosse Pointe. He and Minnie drove a huge white Cadillac; they had a second home on a northern lake. They spent their winters in a posh condo in Florida. They made their own vinegar, out of lush Italian red wine. Their own home in Grosse Pointe Shores was one of the classiest in that rich suburb. No home had thicker rugs or better woodwork.

Best of all, their family turned out well, their daughter becoming principal in one of the biggest high schools in Detroit, and their son a very successful lawyer. Deno and Minnie thoroughly enjoyed their clean-cut, well-spoken, mannerly grandchildren, all of them enthusiastic supporters of the Pistons.

Then Deno made a mistake, a bad one. Although retired, he insisted on visiting the sites where his company was working. He would put on a course or two of brick, to show the young guys that the old man still had the touch. He fell from a high scaffold. His back was damaged, and our good friend Deno spent the last few years of his life in a wheel chair, in great pain, his bodily functions failed. Deno was, as usual, the sweet guy he always was, and lovely Minnie was, of course, his devoted helper, but their last months were grim.

Deno went out as he lived, in style–in a familiar setting. He had done the brick work for the funeral home; he had done it for the building where the memorial reception was held. There were 75 cars in his cortege.

Deno Bonucchi loved the 100th; in his casket his family placed one of our reunion pins; it went with him to his grave. Deno was a nice guy, gentle, unassuming. Even in his last painful months he found it easy to smile.

We shall all miss him very much.
Harry Crosby – 1993

Letter from Dennis Bonucchi (Deno’s son) to Mike Faley – 3/5/2003:

Dear Mr. Faley,

Just a short note to thank you for taking the time to find and send the eulogy for my dad by Harry Crosby. Both are very special people, and it is obvious that Mr. Crosby spent a considerable amount of time writing the eulogy. We are all very grateful to Harry Crosby for his thoughtfulness in this regard.

You may be interested in a little more history. My dad came from very modest beginnings. My dad was raised in Vesale, Italy until he was 14. Mussolini’s government only paid for one year of school. My father’s teacher recognized that he was very bright and talented, and with the cooperation ( or complicity) of his mother, the teacher arranged to “fail” him after his “one year” of education was completed. This was the only way that the teacher could continue to teach him for a second year. Dad’s mother did not let him in on this little secret until much later in life. Interestingly, I don’t think that any of his friends knew or even suspected that my dad had received only two years of formal education.

When dad returned from WWII, his mother told me that he had only $56 to his name. He had been regularly sending much of his wartime pay to his parents back home to help raise his three younger brothers and sisters. He would later put one of these brothers through college to eventually become an accountant for Cadillac. Another brother joined him in the construction business.

A building boom would take place after WW II, and the Corporal who had completed the training building for Harry Crosby overnight, worked tirelessly to create a life for his new bride and young family. In this regard, there were some years when he put in over 3,000 hours laying brick. I regularly worked with him in high school and college, and I have never met a harder worker in my life.

Dad always spoke very highly of his friends in the service. It was obvious that he very deeply missed those who were lost or injured in service to his country.

Both mom and dad thoroughly enjoyed getting together with the friends that they made in the 100th Bomb Group. Each loved going to the reunions, and spoke about them all the time. He always had a special place in his heart for his friends from the 100th.

I’m sure that my dad knew that he was already a very rich man when he returned home from England with that $56.00 in his pocket. He had just spent more than three years with friends that he would cherish for life. To dad, nothing was worth more than friends and family.

Best Regards, Dennis Bonucchi