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- Daily Chronicle : DeKalb County Life
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Still employed at 82, and selling tickets, too
By Barry Schrader.................................April
It must be his Italian genes, as Joe Bussone keeps on ticking
and cant be told he should slow down at age 82.
I first met him way back in April 1966 when we were both younger
and full of vim and vigor. The occasion was the presentation
of a gift to the Sycamore Library Board, of which Joe was president
at the time. I came to the meeting to present the microfilm files
of the Sycamore True Republican newspaper, as it had recently
been purchased by DeKalb County Press and as editor I wanted
to be sure the 110 years worth of issues of the oldest paper
in the county were preserved for use by library patrons. Why
I can pin down the date was due to a photo that appeared in the
Sycamore Sun-Tribune of Joe and me looking over the microfilm.
I ran across him a few more times while at the Daily Chronicle
since we were both Kiwanians (DeKalb and Sycamore though) at
the time and went to some of the same fundraisers.
Sycamores Joe Bussone always has a fistful of tickets
for multiple good causes all seasons of the year. At left are
some of the medals and ribbons awarded him for service in World
War II. (Barry Schrader - Daily Chronicle Photo)
But to come back 40 years later and sit down with him at his
home near Coltonville, it seemed like only a few years had passed.
He still works out of his home office as a manufacturers
representative and was so busy that afternoon I only got 45 minutes
of his time to talk about the years in between contact.
Trying to find out the secret to his spunk I could only elicit
the response: I just like to stay active and it keeps me
going. Then I brought up his legendary ticket-selling to
more worthwhile causes than anyone else in DeKalb County or maybe
the whole state.
I just like to help people. God has been good to me over
the years and I like to pay him back by helping people
Joe not only sells hundreds of tickets for every event sponsored
by his Kiwanis club but has been known to regularly help the
other service club represented by a cog wheel. Also
being a member of St. Marys Catholic Church, one can understand
him promoting its fundraisers, but last year he sold nearly 200
pancake supper tickets for the Sycamore Methodist Mens
Club as well. He explained his count was less this year as the
Methodists didnt get the tickets to me enough ahead of
Joe could pass for a native Sycamorean, knowing as many people
around the area as he does, but in fact was born in the little
town of Roanoke, which is a bit east of Metamora, which is just
east of Peoria. He left home after high school to join the Navy,
spending much of World War II in the Southwest Pacific theater
shuttling Marines and Army troops from ships to beaches on so
many islands he cant even remember their names. When he
got out of the service he enrolled at Bradley University and
earned a degree in engineering. Facing offers from several large
companies, he chose to go with General Electric, spending the
next 16 years with that company, the last 12 in DeKalb while
he and his wife Evelyn lived in Sycamore.
When I got here in 1954 there were 1,400 people with GE,
he said. Now only about 100 are employed here. Then at the age
of 41, he decided to strike out on his own, selling custom-designed
and engineered parts for manufacturers. He now represents five
manufacturing firms and has only slowed down a little so he can
do more volunteering. Proud of his Italian heritage, he explained
that his parents came from the Italian Alps, and he has been
back there on five family visits, but professes to knowing only
enough Italian to be conversant with family members.
Before I could leave I found myself with two tickets in my hand
for the April 18 Sycamore Kiwanis annual Big Breakfast. He let
me have the pair for the seniors rate of only $6. Did you
know you can eat all the pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, and
apple sauce you want, plus the beverage of your choice? Well,
now you do.
There ought to be more Joe Bussones in this world. Todays
youth could take a lesson or two from his generosity, loyalty
to his country and dedication to good causes. Joe wont
pass through those pearly gates without St. Peter buying a ticket
or two, you can bet on that.
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DeKalb, Ill 60115