Nick Anthony Comande
January 1, 1925 - December 14, 2011
I was blessed to have lots of memories and great times with my grandpa. There are too many to describe here, but here's one that is especially great for me. In Grandpa's later years, the two of us made trips to Arlington Race Track once or twice a year. We always went on a Thursday, so I would take the afternoon off work.
It didn't really matter if we won or lost on the horses, though Grandpa usually came out ahead. We would sit at a booth in the "Million Room" on the fourth floor, enjoy lunch together, and watch the races both out the window and on the flat screen TV at our booth. The dress code in the Million Room has relaxed a bit recently, but Grandpa and I always made the trip special by wearing nice jackets, and I usually wore a tie as well. We may not be high rollers, but we sure looked the part.
There was about a half hour between each race, so we had lots of time to talk. It's amazing what you can learn from an extended one-on-one chat with a grandparent. I hope to carry his wisdom with me wherever my life takes me in the future.
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Nick Anthony Comande passed away peacefully at his residence on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, surrounded by his loving family. He was born January 1, 1925 in Racine, where he lived his entire life, where he attended Horlick High School. While working for Modine Manufacturing, he met his wife, Isabelle Draeger, and they were married on July 16, 1949. He was employed with Modine Mfg. for 22 years and for 27 years as the President of Shoreline Manor, a home dedicated to providing sheltered care to those with mental illnesses. He retired in 2001.
He was very active in civic affairs, including serving as home secretary for Congressman Gerald T. Flynn and as a longtime friend and supporter of U.S. Representative Paul Ryan. He worked on the campaigns of President John F. Kennedy, presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey, Senator Gaylord Nelson and Representative Les Aspin. He was also an avid supporter of various local politicians, including County Executives Dennis Kornwolf, William McReynolds and Jim Ladwig and Sheriff Bob Rohner. He was actively involved in Sacred Heart Church, Roma Lodge, the Wednesday Optimist Club, the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee, and the Democratic Party.
Nick is survived by his wife Isabelle Comande; four children, Suzanne (Gary) Campbell of Racine, Patricia (Thomas) Isaacson of Racine, Nicholas (Lisa) Comande of Racine, Elizabeth (Randal) Marvin of Franksville; and a brother-in-law Dominic LoPiccolo of Elkhorn. He was a loving grandfather to six grandchildren, Edward (Yolanda) Campbell of Bellflower, Calif., Andrew (Holly) Isaacson of Eden Prairie, Minn., Benjamin (Jenelle) Isaacson of Kenosha, Amanda Marvin of Racine, Anthony Marvin of Decatur, Ga., and Rachel Comande of Racine; and five great-grandchildren, Ella, Lily and Kellan Isaacson of Eden Prairie, Minn.; Eliana Isaacson of Kenosha; and Patrick Michel of Bellflower, Calif. He is also survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents George and Frances (Fabiano) Comande, six siblings, Sarah Comande, Josephine (Joseph) LoPiccolo, Rose (Walter) Kozich, Augustus (Lee) Comande, Anna (James) Marino, Victoria LoPiccolo, and two nephews, David and James Marino.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, December 19, 2011, 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2201 Northwestern Avenue, with Rev. Ronald O. Crewe officiating. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Hwy 32. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Sunday at the funeral home from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and at the church Monday from 9:30 a.m. until 10:15 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Diabetes Association or to St. Catherine's High School.
The family wishes to extend a special thank you to those who joined us in providing loving and compassionate care for Nick; Tom Cramer, Dr. david Zablotney and the doctors and staff at Wheaton Franciscan Hospital, the staff at Ridgewood Care Center and Allay Hospice.
spoken by Andrew Isaacson before the memorial service
Hello Everyone, I'm Andrew, Nick's Grandson.
Grandma Iz called me a couple days ago and asked me if I would like to say a few words today, and I told her I would be honored. She thought it might be nice to speak from the perspective of the grandkids, so I took the time to talk to Ed, Amanda, Tony, Ben and Rachel and they all shared some sweet and funny stories with me about Grandpa Nick. So, I took all of their thoughts put together this great list I'm entitling: "What I learned from my grandpa"
#1. I learned how to dress. All of you know my Grandpa had a knack for style, and no truer fact than that, was his numerous colored sport coats and great collection of hats. Tony would tell you about his 1st communion and even though all the other kids were wearing black, he and grandpa decided to wear matching green tiel sport coats and were a big hit in church. Tony, also tells me grandpa passed along a few of these coats to him over the years and he actually wears them to work, despite the difficulty he says, of finding a "shirt to match".
#2. How to be a celebrity. One of my favorite things was watching the Racine Fourth of July parade's on TV and counting all of the shout-outs to Grandpa who was watching at home. Paul Ryan's famous "Happy Fourth of July Nick Comande's" are a classic example. Not to mention, if you have ever been to a restaurant with Grandpa, you know that food would begin to appear without even ordering. One of Rachel favorite places to go was the Chancery where a big bag of popcorn would appear at the end of the meal for them to take home. Extra Sauce, "End Cuts," Well Done, Light-Light cheese, bowls of meatballs, and Prime Rib "to-go" were all standards of the Grandpa Nick "diet" and of course, none of this would appear on the final bill.
#3. How to talk. "Benjamin Isaacson! How ARE you?!?" was a standard greeting of his, which Benjamin and I still use to this day whenever we call each other over the phone. Amanda became fluent in Grandpa-Nick speak over the last few years and after running errands one afternoon, they found there way up to the hospital where my Grandma was recovering from knee surgery. In explaining their travels to Grandma, Amanda said oh, you-know, we drove around, went to Sam's Club and had lunch at Infusimo's. I think afterwards they watched Steve Strickler play golf on TV and had Beef Sangwhiches for dinner.
#4. How to sing. Need I say more? Tony and Amanda will be happy to treat you to a couple verses of "Big Fat Mama" at lunch today.
#5. How to spend money. Grandpa was the king of money, always seeming to have his money clip handy. Whether it was a couple dollars hidden in his shirt pocket for Rachel to find, or the time he pulled a couple quarters out in O'hare airport to let 4-year old Eddie fire up one of those "Pay-for TV's" in the terminal. Now this wouldn't have been any big deal, but Frosty the Snowman was playing and Eddie had to see the end of it. Lets just say this story ends with the flight nearly being delayed so Eddie could see Frosty fly off with Santa.
#6. How to earn money. Once or twice a year, Benjamin would take off of work to take Grandpa out to see how he earned all of his money. Where would they go? Arlington Race Track of course, to bet on the horses! Ben will tell you no matter when they went or who was racing, Grandpa would always come back the big winner.
#7. How to be compassionate. It's amazing the impact Grandpa had on so many people. I can't tell you how amazing it was see him at the Shoreline picnics and watch the residents interact with him. I don't think I know of a person with a bigger heart then my Grandpa and if even a little bit of that generosity rubbed off on all of us, it would be a great thing.
#8. How to be happy. I think a lot has been left unsaid about his courage to overcome his disability. Never once in all the year's I helped him out of the car or walked him into the house did he complain about his struggles. If there is one thing that we can all learn from Grandpa, is that life is full of challenges and your ability to handle those situations, whether long term or short term, are the real secret to being happy. And let me tell you, Grandpa was a very happy man.
And adding to all that happiness, were his grandchildren and great grand children. Grandpa was so proud of all of us and couldn't wait to tell the world what we were doing. What he probably doesn't know, is that we were as excited to tell him what we were doing as he was to share it. He was our biggest fan by far.
And lastly, his ability to make a impression on people is something that I still can't quite put into words. But everywhere you go someone would know Grandpa. And everytime you saw him, a smile would come to his face. His handshake, his kisses, his signing, and certainly his presence will live on forever. I can only hope that one day, I can teach my grandkids to become a person as charming, courageous, and loving as Grandpa Nick.