"I have to die of something!" were Louis Piazzon's first words after learning he had esophageal cancer. This was shortly after he told the doctor who performed his endoscopy that it looked like the nurses were doing most of the heavy lifting. Louis died Nov. 24, 2017, and happily shares this space with his wife, Sally, who died Dec. 4, 2012, and didn't get a proper obituary because her loved ones were too blindsided and shell-shocked to impart anything beyond the perfunctory details of her beautiful life.
Luigi Piazzon was born on Sept. 9, 1925, in Saint-Etienne, France, one of the many places his hard-laboring father, Adamo, found work in war-torn Europe. Adamo carried his wife, Maria, to the hospital, where Luigi was born on the front lawn, marking the beginning of his super-power, resiliency. Adamo and Maria were both from the tiny village of Mezzamonte, Italy, Luigi's home for his first 11 years.
Luigi's cherished mother, Maria, died in 1929 when he was only 4 years old. Because his father was working in the United States at the time, Luigi lived with his grandparents, Giovani and Maria Piazzon. Luigi believed his grandmother had mystical powers as she could smell the top of his head and know that he had cut school to swim in the river or watch the planes. The plans for Luigi to travel to the United States to join his father escalated when Adam received a letter from his custodians informing him that "Luigi made the rocks tired."
Luigi boarded the Conti di Sava on Jan. 13, 1937, voyaging to the United States with a picture of his father in his pocket. Though his ticket read third class, he was an amiable lad, by himself on a luxury liner, allowing him to explore and make himself at home on all levels of the ship where many misadventures ensued.
Louie lived with his father in Milwaukee, Wis., where he continued to ditch classes, and by lying about his age, enlisted in the Marines at the age 17. He proudly served in World War II, Platoon 777 in Iwo Jima, and was aboard the ship when the Marines planted the flag memorialized in the iconic photo. He was extremely honored to participate in the Honor Flight in 2012, where once again, as rules didn't apply to him, he left the group so as not to miss the Marine memorial. In 2016, the VFW awarded him his long overdue Good Conduct Medal.
Upon his return from the war, Louie began working for a company that converted cities to natural gas. While working in the city of Fond du Lac, Wis., his love story began. The gas conversion guys often lunched at Petri's Restaurant, where the beautiful Rosella (Sally) Koenigs waited tables and caught Louie's eye. On one of the many occasions when she was running late for work (and she always was running late), Louie stopped to give her a lift. Although this ride would certainly make her even later, Rosella was equally captivated by this charming young man with the Italian accent who called her Rose. On Feb. 26, 1949, they were married at St. Peter's Catholic Church in St. Peters, Wis. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when Sally informed her family that she was marrying this Italian rapscallion she had known less than six months and would be traveling the country for an indefinite time far away from her childhood home. At the time of their respective deaths, Louie thought Rose was beautiful and brilliant and he credited her with all the good things in his life. She, in turn, would have followed him to the ends of the earth. He often expressed with tears in his eyes, "If I'd asked her to go to the moon with me she would have." And she would have.
Louie and Sally continued to travel North America, working gas conversion for the next 11 years with each of their five children born and schooled in different cities, states and even country (one may or may not have a legal birth certificate). Louie recalled a time putting chains on the tires of the mobile home they were pulling up the hills in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., while Sally and the three babies were inside, oblivious to his toils. His thought was, "She completely trusts me and I have no idea what I am doing." His family is forever grateful for the team of overworked guardian angels that kept him unscathed the many times he was in harm's way.
From 1960 on, Louie was in nearly every home in Independence, Iowa, working as a serviceman for Iowa Public Service Co. As the gas man and still today he could recite anyone's address, but was unable to pronounce their very American names. Louie retired in 1987 from Mid America Co., formerly IPS.
Louie, spiritual and faithful, was an active member of St. John's Catholic Church in Independence. Louie and Sally gave and received much from their St. John's family.
He was a longtime member of Knights of Columbus, VFW and the Shysters who met every morning at the senior center.
In addition to Louie's mother, Maria, his father, Adam, and son-in-law, Roger Smith, preceded him in death. Their beloved son, Lyle, prematurely preceded both Louie and Sally in 1997.
Those who remain here and miss them fiercely are their four daughters, Sandra Hamlin, Theresa Smith, Mary (John) Segriff and Annette Piazzon (Bob Gantt); daughter-in-law, Barb Piazzon Hickey; five grandchildren, Tanya (Steve) Hicock, Nicole (Brian) Ahrens, Marissa Hamlin (Tim Wanger), Santana and Zoey Segriff; four great-grandchildren, Ashley (Chris) Bevard, Logan and Dawson Hicock, and Mallory Ahrens; sister and brothers-in-law; nieces; nephews; godchildren; and many, many friends.
Their children recall with love the life lessons bestowed on them while delivering the thousands of tomatoes Louie grew in his garden.
Thank you, Cedar Valley Hospice, for the "soft landing."
Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, at White Funeral Home, Independence, where there will be a Knights of Columbus rosary at 3 p.m., a military memorial service at 5 p.m. and a vigil service at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27, at St. John Catholic Church, Independence, with burial in the church cemetery.
Memorials will be directed to St. John Catholic Church and Cedar Valley Hospice, both in Independence.
Online condolences may be posted at www.white-mthope.com.