A Wonderful Life

2. Dante L. Ventresca as a child circa 1925
Dante Linne Ventresca Western Springs, IL circa 1925
3. Florence Olson Ventresca Wedding 1914
Dante’s Mother, Florence Olson Ventresca on her Wedding Day; Western Springs, IL Christmas 1914
1. Francesco Ventresca To Florence 1913
“To Florence from Francesco” Dante’s Father, Professor Francesco Ventresca; Western Springs, IL circa 1914
5. a. Sister Laura Mary Ventresca Brown circa 1936
Dante’s Sister, Laura Mary Ventresca Brown; Western Springs, IL circa 1936
10. a. Dante Linne Ventresca circa 1936
Dante Linne Ventresca Lyons High School Portrait; Western Springs, IL circa 1936
7. Marie Charlotte Rudd Ventresca 1944
Dante’s Wife, Marie Charlotte Rudd Ventresca; Evansville, IN circa 1944
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The Ventresca Brown Wedding,  Summer 1938,  Hinsdale, IL. Standing left to right:  Francesco Ventresca, Florence Olson Ventresca, Laura Mary Ventresca Brown, George Brown, Maid of Honor, and Dante Linne Ventresca.
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George Brown and Laura Mary Ventresca Brown on their 50th Wedding Anniversary 1988; Serverna Park, MD
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Dante’s Mother-in-law, Charlotte Marian Rose Reitz Rudd, circa 1893, Evansville, IN.
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Dante’s Father-in-law, Charles Borromeo Rudd, of Owensboro, KY circa 1900.  FAMILY HISTORY NOTE: Dante never met “Charlie” because Marie’s Father died in the Spring of 1925 when she was just turning six years old.  Her Father’s passing when they were both so young was a great and lifelong sadness for Marie and her family.  Family members described Charlie as a loving, fun, and generous person.  The same adjectives can be used to describe her husband, Dante Linne Ventresca. Marie told her children that her Father would come home from work as an insurance agent around dusk, and his whistling could be heard on the sidewalks prior to his arrival home.  Dante was a great whistler too, and his arrival home from worked marked the highlight of his young children’s day (Before the arrival of TV!) Also, Marie told the story that Charlie’s wife and Marie’s Mother, Charlotte, asked him during the early 1920’s if they could return to Evansville, IN from his successful business in Kansas City, MO so that they could care for her parents as they grew old in her hometown.  Charlie agreed.  Like Charlie, decades later, Dante and Marie welcomed Charlotte into their home in Indianapolis to care for her the last years of her life.  Often, Marie would recall that her Papa would say: “We must not disappoint the children.”  Both Charlie and Dante placed their children as a loving priority in their lives, and we are forever grateful.    Visit Owensboro, KY
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Dante’s Brother-in-law, Joseph Rudd, circa 1924, around 16 years old, eleven years Marie’s senior, and attending Notre Dame University.
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Dante’s Brother-in-law, Louis Rudd and Dante’s wife, Marie Charlotte Rudd, circa 1925, Evansville, IN.
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Dante’s Brother-in-law, Louis Rudd, circa 1935 around 18 years old, one year older than Marie, and attending De Paul University.

4. Dante L. Ventresca 1945 II

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Dante’s fiancé, Marie Charlotte Rudd, at work as a journalist for Servel Corporation in the mid 1940’s when the company was mass producing products for the WWII front. 4/11/2010 10:25:00 AM The last refrigerator from Evansville


8. Dante L. Ventresca 1945
Dante looking westward; Evansville, IN circa 1944
6. Dante & Marie 414 Sunset 1943
Corporal Dante Ventresca with Marie Rudd at 414 South East Riverside Drive; Evansville, IN circa 1943.
9. Dante & Marie Reading Together 1943
Dante and Marie reading together by the fireplace at 414 South East Riverside Drive; Evansville, IN circa 1943.
Marie & Dante Ventresca 1944 III
Dante & Marie; Evansville, IN circa 1943
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Corporal Dante L. Ventresca; Evansville, IN circa 1943
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United States Army Portrait circa 1942
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Dante’s Father, Francesco Ventresca, circa mid 1940’s, Western Springs, IL.  FAMILY HISTORY NOTE:  When Dante met Marie Charlotte Rudd in January of 1943, his Mother, Florence Elizabeth Olson Ventresca, had recently and unexpectedly died on November 13, 1942 at the age of 49.  Dante was young, away from home, new to the U.S. Army, missing his Mom, and mourning.  Marie became a great comfort to him.  When they married in December of 1944, Dante’s Father, retired professor, Francesco Ventresca, took the train from Chicago, IL to Evansville, IN to attend the small family wedding.  Years later as we were growing up, Marie would tell the story that when Francesco came bouncing in to 414 Sunset he exclaimed: “Where is my darling girl!”
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Marie’s Mother and Dante’s Mother-in-law, Mrs. Charles B. Rudd (formerly known as Miss Lottie Reitz and by the 1960’s known to her 21 Grandchildren as “Gimmy”), photo circa mid 1940’s, Evansville, IN. FAMILY HISTORY NOTE: Dante was very fond of his Mother-in-law who was much older than his young Mother, Florence, who had died right before he met Marie’s family.  Marie had a small and close family. Charlotte Reitz Rudd became an important part of Dante’s life, and when “Gimmy” in her late Eighties was recovering from a fall and broken hip in what was then called a “Nursing Home” in Evansville, IN, Dante and Marie offered to take her to their new home in Indianapolis, IN to live.  Gimmy, with the help of her sons, Joseph and Louis, had the courage to sale her main properties and many cherished family belonging, and moved in with the Ventresca Family for the last three years of her life.  Dante and Marie’s children, ranging from age 2 to 22 were thrilled to have their only living grandparent be with them.
Young Couple II
Marie & Dante; Evansville, IN circa 1943
Louis & Joanie Anniversary
Dante’s Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law, Louis and Joanie Rudd, circa 1952, Minneapolis, MN.
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Dante with first born, Marie (Mimi) Elizabeth; Evansville, IN circa 1946
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Dante’s wife and first born, Marie Rudd Ventresca and first daughter, Marie Elizabeth Ventresca, circa Spring 1946, Evansville, IN. FAMILY HISTORY NOTE: Their first daughter was named after Marie’s Mother and Great Aunt and Dante’s Mother’s middle names.  Though the young couple and new family intended on nick naming their little daughter “Beth,” Dante’s Mother-in-law, Charlotte Rudd commented: “She looks just like my French Cousin Mimi,” and so their daughter has been called “Mimi” since 1946.
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Dante with second born, James Linne; Evansville, IN circa 1947
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Marie with their third born and second son, Thomas Joseph Ventresca, circa 1949, Evansville, IN.  FAMILY HISTORY NOTE:  Tommy was their first child to have brown eyes and darker hair like his Father Dante and Grandfather Francesco. They called Tommy their “Spaghetti” Baby who very much looked like the grandson of an Italian immigrant hoping to become part of “The American Dream.”  Later, during his teaching career, Dante would record on the chalk board the gender, eye color, and hair color of all eleven children to teach the diversity of genetics between two people.
Growing Family Evansville, IN
The Ventresca Family: Marie, Mimi, Thomas, James, Dad holding Charlotte Jane; Powell Avenue; Evansville, IN circa 1950
13. Ventresca Family 1952
The Ventresca Family: Dante holding Joel Anthony, Mimi, Thomas, Marie holding Charlotte Jane, and James; Evanston, IL circa 1952
Family 1952 II Bessie
The Ventresca Family: James, Charlotte, Dante, Mimi, Thomas, Marie holding Joel; Evanston, IL circa 1952
Marie & Dante 25th Anniversary Cake 196920170918
Dante & Marie 25th Wedding Anniversary; 4460 Broadway; Indianapolis, IN circa 1969
Marie & Dante Ventresca 1994 II
Dante & Marie 50th Wedding Anniversary; Indianapolis, IN circa 1994
12. Walking the Chalk Ledge II
Mr. V. walking the chalk ledge; Shortridge High School; Indianapolis, IN circa 1972
Mom & Dad & Family First Blue Van 1970's20171011
Part of the Ventresca Family heading West: Anne, Vincent, Karen, Charlotte, Marie, Dante Christopher on top of van, Dante Linne, and James; Indianapolis, IN circa 1976
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Vincent, Karen, and Dante on the road; circa 1976
Mom & Dad at Mimi's SD 1980's20171011
Dante & Marie at Mimi’s; San Diego, CA circa 1980
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Dante with first grandchild, Matthew Christopher Ventresca; Indianapolis, IN circa 1985
Papaw with Claire Marie 4460 200020170927
Dante with seventh grandchild, Claire Marie; Indianapolis, IN circa 1999.
Mom & Dad Laura, Gregg, & Simone 199620171011
Marie and Dante with, daughter, Laura their eighth child, holding their sixth grandchild, Simone Marceline, and son-in-law Gregg at Simon’e Christening; Evanston, IL circa 1996.
16. Dad Van Albums Coffee
Dante holding his Hubbard & Cravens coffee in front of his last van filled with albums from the Good Will; Indianapolis, IN circa 2012.
17. Dad & Records Black & White
Dante playing his albums, a collection that he started at seventeen, at Hubbard & Cravens Coffee Shop; Indianapolis, IN 2012.
19. Dad & Mom Holding Hands Black & White
Dante and Marie in the Sun parlor of 4460 Broadway; Indianapolis, IN circa 2013
Marie & Dante Ventresca 2012
Dante and Marie Christmas Photo; Indianapolis, In circa 2012
Pap & Sarah II
Dante with his third grandchild, Sarah Elizabeth; Indianapolis, IN circa 2013
Dad & Jim Holiday Park 2014
James and Dante at Holliday Park checking out the 48 Iron Wood trees; Indianapolis, IN circa 2014.
Dad & Mom 2013
Dante and Marie at 4460 Broadway; Indianpolis, IN circa 2013
Dad at the Coffee Shop 2014
Dante Linne Ventresca; Indianapolis, IN circa 2014
Dad on Porch 4460 2014
Dante waiting on the porch; Indianapolis, IN circa 2015
18. Dad with Emmett 2014
Dante with his last dog, Emmett, Indianapolis, IN circa 2015
14. Ventresca Family Christmas 2012
The Ventresca Family; Indianapolis, IN Christmas 2012
EPSON scanner image
Dante & Marie walking away La Jolla, CA circa 1997


A Poem by Gini Wharton | July 23, 2017

There she stood. Marie, more beautiful than ever, waiting patiently.

Surrounded by handsome dogs, their black hair gleaming in the golden sun.

And, then he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. A man named Dante, strong and sure.

The long wait was over. Reunited, they held hands and walked,

with the handsome dogs, to the land of forever.

Dante and Marie

“ONE” a Poem by Gini Wharton


We are One.

Children of the stars.

Black, white, brown,

yellow, red, and pink.

The universe, Earth, and Mars.

Linked together.

We are One

The teddy bear we love.

The tree, and the twig we break.

The flowers we pick,

And, the rock we kick.

Linked together.

We are One

Sister fox, brother ox.

The land, the ocean, the sky.

Creatures that fly, and those that swim,

And those that creep.

Linked together.


Gini Wharton

November, 2017

FAMILY NOTE: Tom Ventresca’s significant other is Gini Wharton. Recently, Gini sent the above poem entitled : “One” to us after reading how much Dad was inspired by nature.  Enjoy!

one poem

Memorial Bookmark I: “Christopher With Winnie the Pooh” & “The Peace Prayer”


Dante L. Ventresca Memorial Bookmark I Pooh Bear20171203

Instead of Holy Cards, we created five Memorial Bookmarks to honor Dad that were available at his Mass of Resurrection and the Reception at 4460 after Mass. Each bookmark has a literary quote with an image on the front and a photograph of Dad on the back with a prayer or song lyric that define him. The first bookmark pictured above is based on A.A. Milne’s “Pooh” stories and the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  Dante, as both a father and a teacher, read A.A.Milne’s stories and poems to his children and students.  I never asked him which story and poem was his favorite.  I wish that I had.  So many wonderful selections to consider.  Dante read THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER, Chapter X: “IN WHICH Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There” at his first Grandchild’s, Matthew Christopher Ventresca, funeral in May of 1992.  To this day, I don’t know how he got through the story without breaking down.  The day that my Dad died, being pressed for time and anxious, I was trying to quickly find the story about Piglet doing a “Very Grand Thing,” but I couldn’t find that one.  So, I settled for WINNIE-THE-POOH Chapter IX:  IN WHICH Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded by Water.”  It was the right one.  Dad spent his last hour listening to a story that he had read to us so many times.  Though quiet and drifting, I think that Dad was listening, and his face was relaxed and content. Our Father and Mother loved literature, and taught us to love reading too.  Bookmark I tries to capture Dante’s love for “Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, and all the animal character’s in Milne’s THE WORLD OF POOH, who truly capture all the types of humanity!  The photo of Dad was taken around 1942 when the war was over, and he was newly married, a proud Papa, and had so much of life ahead of him. We selected the prayer because Dad, like Francis of Assisi, was a Man of Peace.  They were both humans who embraced nature, loved humans and all creatures, saw the beauty even in weeds and rocks, loved animals, and wrote poems.  Sweet Peace, Sweet Papa.

Dante Linné Ventresca Eulogy 11.19.2017

screen-shot-2017-08-20-at-11-12-04-am.png  4. Dante L. Ventresca 1945 II

“Dante Linné Ventresca. Also known as Honey, Daddy, Dad, Pops, Pap, Papaw, Papa, Mr. V, Uncle Dante, and Dear Old Dad.

Eight years ago at Thanksgiving we all received a card under our plate at the dinner table. It read: “I am thankful for” and we were to reflect and record our blessings. On his card Pap wrote in his distinctive wonderful handwriting: “I am thankful for love, companionship, happiness, nature, air, photosynthesis, long life, a healthy body, etc….”

Dad’s life was about relationships: with our mother Marie Charlotte Rudd, their eleven children, their family, his students, his colleagues, his friends, his neighbors, his doggies. Also his relationship with science, truth, beauty, and nature.

Dad’s father Francesco Ventresca was born in Italy, his mother Florence Olson was first generation Swedish. They named their only son after Dante Alighieri the Italian poet and Carl Linnaeus the Swedish botanist who classified plants in the 18th century. Pops would love books and flowers and plants all his life. I once asked him what his favorite color was. “Yellow” he said. And your favorite flower I asked. “Now that I could not say” he said, “they are all beautiful.” As long as he went on walks which was well into his nineties, he would have a small magnifying glass on a string around his neck so he could examine the neighborhood flowers. Our father saw beauty and goodness everywhere. He was a lover. He saw no lines that separated people. He saw beyond national boundaries, beyond gender, ethnicity, religion. He saw no difference between a flower and a weed. All living things were good.

He was studying at the University of Illinois when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War 2. He would serve in the Army from 8/11/42 to 4/14/46. He met Mother while stationed at Camp Breckenridge Kentucky. When they married in 1944 the Italian POWs that he was guarding at the camp made them a wedding cake. After his discharge he finished his undergraduate studies at Evansville College. He worked at Mead Johnson for awhile. Went back and got his teacher’s certificate. Taught at Marian College, Shortridge and Howe High Schools in Indianapolis. Along the way he and Marie had eleven children.

At Shortridge and Howe he taught biology, botany, and chemistry. He loved his students. In the Fall he took them to Holliday Park for Nature Walks to study the trees and the leaves. In the Spring the students were assigned to compose a notebook of local flowers that they were to draw and identify. He spent many hours reviewing their work, grading and commenting on their endeavors. At Shortridge Dad served as the Junior Class Sponsor assisting with Junior Vaudeville. He loved it all. He would tell us about the kids and what they were up to. A band called Frenchie and the Oui Ouis always got my attention. Once when he and Mother were chaperoning a Prom at the Indiana Roof in May 1968 a group of the Kennedy clan in town campaigning for Robert Kennedy in the Indiana Primary stopped by to chat. His notoriety was his famous walking on the chalk board. How he did it, we do not know, but we have pictures. He would have the kids do a drum roll on their desks and he would run in from the hall, jump on the chalk board and walk it. His theory was, you gotta get the kids’ attention first, and this was one of his ways. He encouraged all of his own children to become teachers. His advice was, say hello and smile at the kids, get to know the janitors. He had a strong sense of social justice, walking the picket line twice for higher teachers’ salaries. He said it was tough after the strike between those who struck and those who did not, but they all survived, and they all got salary increases, substantial ones too. One of Dad’s colleagues once said :”I’ve heard that Mr V. has eleven children, but from what I can see he has thousands.”

He was an amazing Dad. Very hands on with all of us. He taught us how to tell time, tie our shoelaces, write a check, drive a car, play tennis and ping pong. He taught us how to tell the truth, question authority, stand for justice, be inclusive, be kind, and have fun. He read us Winnie the Pooh, played Big Band Music, went on a crusade to save old stereos and vinyl records. He and Mother loved to travel. In 1958 they took us to Michigan, where Dad studied at the University of Michigan Botanical Annex in Pellston. He had us jumping on bogs, studying the different conifers, seeing how the glaciers formed the Great North Woods. In 1960 they took us to Washington DC on the train. Dad woke us up at 4:30 AM as we passed Harper’s Ferry West Virginia telling us there was a very important battle fought there connected with the Civil War. In 1963, 64, and 70 he studied at the University of California Berkeley on a National Science Foundation Grant. He told us about the cyclotron that split the atom there, took us one evening to hear a physicist speak. And we would see all the beauty that is this country from Indiana to California on those road trips. He and Mother got to know shopkeepers along the way. We would visit the National Parks. Bryce and Zion in Utah, the Redwood Forests in California. And all along the way we were accompanied by the best music of the day. Dad’s love for music underscored our lives.

Also memorable for us were some of Dad’s sayings: like, “Always keep the fermenters going” which I assume came from his days in the lab at the U of I, or maybe at Meads. Meaning I think just keep moving forward, just keep going. He also said when things were distressful: “It was a tense moment at the bridge”. And once when I naively was ready to do what a person in authority had suggested I do, which was wrong, his comment was :”What kind of morons have I raised?”

Our parents met in 1943 when they were in their twenties. Pictures taken at the time show how happy they were. In their almost 69 years of marriage, they were separated only once for a lengthy period of time. That was in 1957 when Dad was teaching at Marian College here and Mother stayed in Evansville with the eight children. He would drive from Indianapolis back to Evansville every Friday night after classes were done for the week. He brought us candy bars as a treat which we all loved. Sunday afternoon he would head back to Indianapolis while Mother and the children waved from the porch and cried. It was definitely not as much fun when Dad was not around and we missed him so. When living in Evansville they went out on dates Tuesdays and Fridays. In Brownsburg (where we moved in 1958) they took long rides on country roads that would eventually disappear as Eagle Creek Reservoir was developed. In Indianapolis (where we moved in 1966) they drove to the Dairy Queen in Carmel, or went to Knobby’s for a roast beef sandwich. They never stopped holding hands. The pictures of Mother’s last several years show her confined to bed and Dad right there holding her hand. After Mother’s death in 2013 it was very hard on Dad, but he told us he wanted to live and so we all carried on as best we could with a sense of joy and gratitude for almost four years.

As a veteran he used the GI Bill to complete college. And in his later years he got the few medications he needed from the VA. He needed to see Dr. Bolla at VAMC Indy once a year to qualify for the program. She could not believe his age and how well he was doing. She wanted to know his secret. I told her: “It’s Hubbard and Cravens coffee and scones in the morning, beer and chips at night, and lots of chocolate in between.” “I would not change a thing” she said.

Dad was not a Catholic when he met Mother, but he agreed to raise the kids Catholic when they married, and several years later while we were still in Evansville he converted and was baptized. But Dad’s spirituality was less formal religion and much more mystical. He saw God in all living things, in creation, in nature. He saw God as Beauty and Love and Connection. And this God sustained him his whole life thru. Several days before he died, when he was bedridden and saying very little, Annie heard him say “They just would not understand”. We think he was already starting to see the other side of this life. He died on a Sunday afternoon in his bed with his children around him and some saying they loved him over the phone from California. He just very quietly slipped away. He had told us some years ago at a family meeting about what the parents would want upon their deaths that all he wanted was for us to love each other. I assured him just before he left that we would do just that and take care of the doggies too.

Dante Linne Ventresca, we are so proud of you, we salute you, we thank you, and most of all we love you.

Dad, we know that Mother is here with you today. Dante, Pops, Papaw, this Mass, this celebration is for you.”

~Marie Elizabeth (Mimi) Ventresca Author Summer 2017

The Eulogy was delivered by Mimi and Dante Christopher Ventresca on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Indianapolis, IN around 3:00 in the afternoon during Dante Linné Ventresca’s Mass of Resurrection; Celebrant Father James Farrell.

Mom & Dad 2012

Mom & Dad 1944

Dante Linne Ventresca Eulogy 11.19.2017

Dante Linne Ventresca Eulogy 11.19.2017