Cover photo for John Prunuske's Obituary
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1930 John 2022

John Prunuske

December 26, 1930 — May 29, 2022

John Prunuske passed away on May 29 exactly how he wanted to go, fast and easy. Born in 1930 the day after Christmas, John had a long life full of love, strong opinions, and his great delight, just talking with people. John married his high school sweetheart Rita Bialzik in 1950 and put himself through engineering school at UW Madison while working full-time and helping raise their first two children. After working for the cities of Milwaukee and Appleton, John served as City Engineer for the City of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and eventually owned and operated his own business, Central Engineers & Surveyors.

John was an adventurer and ardent history buff. With little money to spare, he and Rita crammed their family into a series of ancient station wagons, camping gear piled into a little one-wheeled trailer, and took off to explore as much of the country as they could reach in two week blocks.

In 1985 John sold his business and moved with Rita to northern California to enjoy easier winters and be close to three of their children. There John, always willing to learn something new, went to work for his daughter Liza’s firm and brought his chutzpah, ingenuity, and long experience to the emerging field of ecological restoration.

After Rita One passed away in 1997, John reconnected with his first girlfriend, Rita Baer Pesavento, affectionately called Rita Two by his children. They married in 2004 and moved to Rockford, Illinois where Rita had raised her eight children. A family man through and through, John was thrilled to add the Pesavento clan to his family. In Rockford, John grew a beautiful backyard garden, finally learned to cook, and continued to travel. He sailed down the Rhine, discovered Mexico, and snorkeled in Hawaii.

John was preceded in death by his wives Rita Bialzik and Rita Pesavento, and his daughter Kathy. He is survived by children Dan, Peter, Ann, Polly and Liza; grandchildren Jake, Peter and Sarah Prunuske, and Joe and Celia Chatham; nine great grandchildren; and beloved companion Paulette Cunningham. John was blessed with knowing what he wanted and being happy when he got it. He was a good man who loved well and was loved by many in return.

The family would like to thank the staff and residents of Siena on Brendenwood and John’s caregiver Louie Velazco for making John’s life as good as it could be right up to the end. Donations in his memory can be made to Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity, https://rockfordhabitat.org.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Prunuske, please visit our flower store.

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