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Category 10: Short-form, Average Joe
Patricia and Lou DeMuro
The rest of the world receded a little when pretty Patricia Assise watched cute Lou DeMuro play 16-inch softball at Kells Park on the West Side. It was the summer of '47.
They were engaged by the following Valentine's Day and married later that year.
Their life together had few frills but many laughs. They would sing the 1950s hit "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" They listened to the soundtracks from "South Pacific" and "Mary Poppins" hundreds of times. The louder their kids sang along, the more the DeMuros smiled.
"It was a simple life, but it was rich," said their daughter, Jan Griffin. "I remember Dad barbecuing and getting the biggest kick out of watching us play."
The couple liked to make Italian sausage from scratch, hand-cranking out a fennel-laced recipe that their kids said was so good, it spoiled them for anything else.
Molded by the Depression, Mrs. DeMuro could whip up tasty "meatballs" -- made from crackers and eggs -- or create a meal from the edible greens that some Italian-Americans picked from vacant lots, then battered and fried.
The DeMuros were a tag team when it came to raising their three kids: Jan, Lou and David. When Mr. DeMuro got home from work, he was a hands-on parent, so Patricia DeMuro could head to her night job.
They roller-skated, bowled and played pinochle together and even used his-and-hers lawnmowers to mow their grass side-by-side, said their son Lou.
They did everything together.
So it was fitting that, at the end, they died together, succumbing within hours of each other from a multitude of ailments.
They had moved just last month to the San Diego area, to be near their daughter. But Mr. DeMuro -- who had leukemia, Parkinson's disease and diabetes -- soon was in hospice care at their senior apartment. And Mrs. DeMuro -- with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure -- was soon on a ventilator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
Their children knew it was only a matter of time. So, on June 28, they had an ambulance bring Mr. DeMuro to the hospital on a gurney to be with his wife. He greeted his bride of 62 years as he always had: "Hi, Babe."
"They had them facing one another in their individual beds, and we put their hands on top of one another so they could hold hands," their daughter said. "Mom was awake. She said, 'Lou, I love you. I had a wonderful life. I'll see you in another place.' ''
The DeMuros spent a contented couple of hours near each other. Then, it was time for Lou DeMuro to go back to hospice.
"I had to tell Dad, 'You aren't going to see Mom again," their daughter said.
At 1:20 p.m. that day, Mrs. DeMuro slipped away.
Mr. DeMuro grew restless and distraught. He was gone at 6:45 p.m.
A celebration of their lives is being planned for later this year at Our Lady of Sorrows Cemetery in Hillside.
The DeMuros grew up in the city, near Chicago Avenue and Kedzie. She graduated from Tuley High School and started work at 16 -- at various times as a hairstylist, keypunch operator and a worker on Brach's candy-packing assembly line.
"She'd bring us home the cherries they were going to throw out, the chocolate-covered cherries," the couple's daughter said.
The DeMuros' kids had an old-fashioned Chicago upbringing. They lived in a two-flat with relatives upstairs. The children went to school across the street at Our Lady Help of Christians. They'd come home for lunch.
Mrs. DeMuro "was really in tune with our schoolwork," Jan Griffin said. "She was just there all the time. She would sleep while we were at school."
Sundays meant pot roast for dinner.
When the family moved to Roselle in 1968, Mrs. DeMuro brushed up her secretarial skills and landed a job at AT&T. Mr. DeMuro was an order filler for Motorola and worked at a cutlery firm.
"They were always asking us, 'How ya doing? Are you OK?' Always checking up on us. They were real encouragers," Jan Griffin said.
Mr. DeMuro enjoyed taking his sons golfing at Salt Creek Country Club in Itasca. The family liked hitting Wood Dale Bowl and watching Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns at the old Thunderbird Theater in Hoffman Estates, their son David said.
Mr. DeMuro would do the shopping and Mrs. DeMuro the cooking, making homemade ravioli, manicotti, pizza, pineapple upside-down cake and Italian cookies.
They retired in their 60s. True city kids who grew up with the bus and the L, they never had been much for driving. So they would take bus tours and cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean, along the Mississippi River and through the Panama Canal. They loved going to Massachusetts in the fall to watch the leaves change colors.
Mrs. DeMuro is also survived by a sister, Mary Messina, and two brothers, Joseph and Rocky Assise. Mr. DeMuro is also survived by a sister, Rose Belizzi.