Tony Marazita, 79

Tony Marazita, age 79, of Sturgis, went to be with his savior Sunday evening Sept. 27, 2009, at  Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident that occurred Sept. 11.

He was born Nov. 1, 1929 in Niles, a son of the late Frank and Josephine (Tignanelli) Marazita.

Tony had resided in Sturgis since 1954, coming from Niles, where he graduated from Niles High School with the class of 1948.

On April 23, 1955, he married Delphine Zielinski at the St. Casmir’s Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind.

Following his graduation from high school Tony worked for his father’s business the Michigan Fruit Company. He went on to work at the Bendix Corporation in South Bend before serving his country during World War II in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After receiving his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army he returned to the South Bend area and rejoined the Bendix Corporation. In 1954, he established and opened the Mara Sweet Shop in Sturgis. Tony was involved in sales for many years including travel trailer sales, which led to his love of travel. He was also the founder of the Marazita Candy Company.

Tony will be fondly remembered by many patrons of the Mara Sweet Shop and his many years of community service such as the Easter Egg Hunt at Oak Lawn Terrace Park. He was a faithful member Holy Angels Catholic Church where for many years he served daily Mass. He was devoted to the Blessed Mother and St. Anthony. Tony was a member of the Knights of Columbus #2508 and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. He also held memberships in the National confectioners Association and Neuman-Wenzel Post #72 American Legion.

He was one of the University of Notre Dames biggest fans. Tony enjoyed his “Tuesday Card Club” and joking with his buddy, John Marshall. One pride and joy for Tony was his grandchildren, with whom he spent many hours sharing stories of his life growing up. Most of all he will be remembered for his love and support of all things St. Jude.

He will be missed not only by his family but by many community members of whose lives he had touched through the years. Even in the past two weeks, his only concern was his beloved Delphine and family.

A tribute to her grandfather from granddaughter, Dominique Beach, “The Italian Stallion”:

9/11 will always hold a different meaning for my family and me. My hero almost died when a cement truck hit him. He was airlifted to Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, fighting for his life. He has two broken legs, four broken ribs, a broken neck at the C-2 vertebra, many cuts, contusions, a head laceration, and is bruised from his head to his toes.

My hero is my 79 year old papa Tony Marazita. He grew up one of 11 children. He faced many tragedies in the first 20 years of his life. The first was the death of his 2-year-old sister Mary playing with matches in the closet. Then his 15-year-old brother Dominick died shortly after of diabetes. Despite all these heartaches his family remained loving, strong and religious.

In his early 20s he enlisted in the army. His father an Italian immigrant loved the U.S. and told his sons that it was their duty to fight and protect the country that has given them so much. He fought and was wounded in the Korean War. It was a time in his life when he lost many friends. He still can’t watch a war movie without getting emotional.

When he returned to the U.S. he had dreams to go to college and become a lawyer. His father had different ideas and being the loyal son he respected his father’s wishes. He moved to Sturgis in 1954 and opened a business called Mara Sweet Shop. It was a place where teens could gather; listen to music, dance and play pinball machines in a safe, friendly environment. People still tell him how they appreciated the memories of their days in the sweet shop.

Being with my papa has allowed my brother, sister and me to learn his principles, wisdom, love of family, and his dedication to God. I’ll always cherish every morning of the school year, because he picked me up and took me to school. Before I got out of the car he’d say “who loves you the most?” I would say “God, Jesus, Mary, Holy Spirit, my mom and dad and nana and papa. This time together allowed me to see and appreciate how special he is. He was always with us through the good and the bad. If I was having a bad day he’d always be able to put a smile right back on my face and lift my spirits up.

The wisdom we’ve all received by being with him, his thoughts on life and his stories have been an enjoyment. My papa would put others’ needs before his own, would do anything for the people he loves, and has touched more lives then he realizes. Papa said “Everyone is a blessing sent from God. Follow your dreams, and never give up on anyone or anything. Don’t let yourself down or others, but to just give it your best shot and go for it.”

My blessing in life is my Italian Stallion or you could say my handsome stud muffin grandpa and I’m his bambino.

(My papa died 9/27 at 8:02 pm. He fought a long hard battle and is now in peace. I Love you and Miss you Papa “forever and a day” always.)

He is survived by his loving and dedicated wife of 55 years, Delphine; four daughters, Cathy (Rick) Beach of Sturgis, Tamie (Larry) Baccoli of Rodney, Dawn (Richard) Russell of Milan and Tina (Lon) Morency of Sturgis; seven grandchildren, Andrea Russell of Oscoda, Paul Beach of Lansing, Christopher Russell of Milan, Alexandra Beach of Albion, Chantalle Morency of Kalamazoo, Connor Morency of Sturgis and Dominique Beach of Sturgis, one sister, Virginia Marazita of Niles; two brothers, Phil (Ellie) Marazita of Lansing and Warren (Mary) Marazita of Niles; sisters-in-law Kathleen Marazita of Buchanan and Irene Marazita of Niles; and many nieces and nephews.

Tony was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Mary; and six brothers, Joseph, Paul, Ernie, Dominick, John and Albert.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Holy Angels Catholic Church, 402 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis, where the rosary will be recited at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The funeral Mass celebrating the life of Tony Marazita will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. The Rev. Father Richard Altine will officiate. A graveside committal will follow the Mass at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Sturgis, where full military rites will be conferred by Captain John J. Kelley Post #1355 VFW and the U.S. Army Honor Guard. The Hackman Family Funeral Homes Hackman Chapel, Sturgis, is entrusted with the arrangements.

The family suggests those wishing to make a memorial donation in Mr. Marazita’s memory consider St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38015 or Holy Angels Catholic Church, 402 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis, MI 49091. Envelopes are available at the funeral home.

His obituary is also at www.hackmanfamilyfuneralhome.com, where personal messages of support may be left for the family.

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