I am Karen Ann Sesso. This is a story about Donald Anthony Sesso, my father. This is a story written by a daughter, who loved her father deeply and can’t imagine a world without him.
My dad was born on November 30, 1933 and grew up on the mean streets of Chicago. This was a time when gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger often grabbed the headlines in Chicago. Well, he wasn’t really “on the streets” as he came from a very loving home. And honestly, I have no idea if he crossed paths with any gangsters but if you’ve ever played cards or billiards with my dad, you’ve got to wonder.
Dad’s parents were 1st generation Italian-Americans and he had an older brother Joseph whom he adored. His father, Ralph, was among other things, a limo driver who once drove for the great Joe DiMaggio. Dad’s mother’s name was Marie Amici. “Amici” means friend in the Italian language. She was born to Antonio Amici an exiled prince of Tuscan royalty. Mr. Amici was disowned and run out of Italy by his powerful father because he sneaked off and married a peasant woman from southern Italy instead of someone of his social status.
My dad attended high school in Chicago and college at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a child I used to peruse dad’s college yearbooks. From the looks of things he was a damn good all around athlete. Somewhere in the pages of those yearbooks my mom started appearing beside my dad in the dance photos. How my dad, who was a skinny little sophomore from the “Windy City”, was able to catch the attention of a senior head cheerleader & homecoming queen, I’ll never know, but Rita Grace Biddick, a beautiful hometown girl, and my dad fell in love. They married in June of 1955 in “The Little Brown Church” in Chickasaw County, Iowa.
The United States Army brought my parents to Fairchild Air Force Base which sits on the outskirts of Spokane, Washington. After one look at the abundant mountains, lakes and forests, my folks knew this was to be their permanent home. I came along in 1960 and they blessed me with an my adorable baby brother, Steven Richard Sesso, 4 years later.
Steve and I both benefited from having a father who was an elementary school principal and a mother who was a teacher. My father always saw to it that our summers were ongoing enjoyable and enlightening “field trips”. We called an old, well used Bell camper our summer home. When we weren't camping at Priest Lake, Idaho we were crisscrossing North America in our home on wheels. My father patiently drove thousands and thousands of miles from coast to coast and from Canada to Mexico. I did not realize until much later in my childhood that most families do not get to spend all summer on wonderful adventures with their parents.
We lost my mom in the summer of 1987. One of the things that Steve and I respected the most about my father was the way he seamlessly stepped in and filled the role of two parents. He did this at a time when he was experiencing his own tremendous loss. He made us feel as loved and secure as he could in a world that was suddenly absent our mother.
It took awhile but, my dad found true love again. In 1998, he met Dolores Jens at the “hot pick up joint”, Wandermere Golf Course. “Dee,” a petite, attractive woman with striking auburn hair and a big heart, luckily shared my dad’s passion for all that was golf. Most of their activities and social life centered around golf. My dad chose in Dee a wonderful wife with whom he would spend the rest of his life. Dee loved my father dearly and was by our father’s side every single day of his final year battling lung cancer. Steve and I both loved Dee, but we love her even more after watching the way she took care of our father in his final months.
My brother, Steve, and his wife, Mary, gave my father a grandson and his namesake, Jacob Anthony Sesso in the summer of 2001. And the twins, Sydney Grace and Alexander Michael, followed 3 years later. Dee brought to our family two loving sons, Steve and Randy Jens. Steve Jens and his wife, Janice, saw to it that my dad had not only one set of twins to love, but two. Matthew and Meagan Jens were born in 1999 and their younger sister, Michaela, joined the clan in 2006. My dad also was blessed with 7 nieces and nephews from his brother Joseph and his wife Dorothy.
My father received the most incredible, compassionate hospice care during the last month of his life at the VA here in Spokane. If you wish to make a donation in honor of my father, please give to this wonderful organization: Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, 4815 N. Assembly St., Spokane, WA 99205 Atten. Volunteer Services. Make out checks to DOVA
A “Celebration of LIfe” event for Donald Anthony Sesso will be held at Wandermere Clubhouse, September 11, 2015 at 6:30 PM. All are welcome. Golf attire suggested.
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