Celebration of John's Life
Sunday, September 5, 2021
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM CDT
740 Lake Ave.
Racine, WI 53403
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Racine Public Library
75 Seventh St.
Racine, WI 53403
1111 N Capitol St NE
Washington, DC 20002
Life Story / Obituary
May 9, 1957-August 29, 2021
John R. Balestrieri, 64, died on August 29, 2021, of a sudden heart attack. John was born in Racine on May 9, 1957, to John and Edith Mary (Rae) Balestrieri. He was a lifelong city resident.
John is survived by his wife of 37 years, Joanne, and daughter, Julia Maria; a niece, Valencia Pia Villarreal; and many family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, as well as two sisters, Dianne Balestrieri and Gina Pia (Roy) Villarreal, and several aunts and uncles.
John was a Class of 1975 Horlick High School graduate. He later earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
He worked several years for UPS and Gold Masonry. He learned the floral business at Shorecrest Flowers, where he met Joanne, later buying the business and renaming it The Flower Shop. He was also employed for more than 20 years at Great Northern Corporation in Racine, which John lovingly referred to simply as the Northern Corp.
In addition to spending time with his wife and daughter, John was comfortable in solitude. He enjoyed sitting in the sun reading fiction, admiring his flowers, and listening to music.
He grew up listening to his father’s beautiful singing voice and many pieces of classical and Italian operatic music; he also had a passion for Chopin, Debussy, and Shostakovich. Elsewhere, his discerning taste ranged from Jimi Hendrix to Firesign Theater.
His work hours allowed him to pursue photography, predominantly images of Lake Michigan at sunrise.
Another talent, perhaps his greatest in others’ view, was cooking and baking. A family tradition was making pizza from scratch every Saturday evening. John’s final culinary creation was a stellar Sicilian style pizza, sfincione. He also loved baking bread and exploring cuisines from Asian to Mediterranean and beyond.
A celebration of John’s life will be held Sunday, September 5, 2021 from 1-3 p.m. at Preservation Hall, 740 Lake Ave. All who loved him are welcome to join us.
Memorials to the Racine Public Library or to NPR has been suggested by the family.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
-William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”