Monday, September 9, 2019, 4:00-7:00pm
Loutzenhiser-Jordan Funeral Home and Cremation
Services, Inc., 366-368 S. Main St., Greenville, PA
Mass of Christian Burial:
Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 10:30am
St. Michael Roman Catholic Church
85 N. High St., Greenville, PA
Rev. V. David Foradori, Pastor, as celebrant
Burial with committal prayers and military honors will
be rendered in St. Michael Cemetery
Raymond Stephen Bartolo, age 96, of Greenville, passed away Wednesday evening, September 4, 2019.
He was born on May 19, 1923 in Grove City, Pennsylvania to Michele & Lucia (Zappavignia) Bartolo, immigrants form Calabria, Italy. Ray grew up in Grove City, PA, attended and graduated from GC High School. He enlisted in The Army on February 23, 1943 along with Brother Ed. Ray was deployed to La Havre France to join forces in WWII and fight in the European Theatre in the Battle of the Buldge. A Sharpshooter, he served in active duty with the Headquarters Battery of the 365th Field Artillery Battalion of the 97th Infantry Division in France, Dusseldorf, Belgium & along the German-Czechoslovakian border.
As a T/5 Corporal he was in charge of a wire crew that laid wire behind enemy lines to set up communications to relay co-ordinates back to the mortar team. In turn, they fired upon German forces to push them back so the infantry could advance. On April 23, 1945 upon returning from a wire mission, he & his crew came upon a facility unknown to them at the time as the Flossenburg Concentration Camp. The German soldiers were fleeing the facility due to the American forces advance. Ray and his crew, along with another Division broke into the camp to discover the prisoners and conditions that would never be erased from his mind. They Liberated and freed the prisoners that day with the help of a Doctor from Poland who who took them through the camp. At a later date, Ray marched past the cemetery where unknown to him at the time, his brother Ed had been buried; this after having suffered wounds on Christmas Day in the Battle of the Bulge, and eventually dying on New Year’s Day.
In May of 1945, he was sent back to the US. He landed in NY, then San Francisco and eventually Seattle, WA to be deployed to the Pacific Theatre to fight in Japan. This invasion mission was diverted to the Philippines due to the Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki while in route to Japan. He eventually landed in Japan in September 1945 where he was placed on a special mission to capture Nazi war criminals known to be hiding there. After several successful captures, one day upon setting up tents, he was stung by a scorpion and later after recovering Ray was sent home on December 25, 1945 and returned to his family. He was awarded medals for Sharpshooter, The American Campaign, European Campaign, Pacific Campaign, WWII Victory Medal & Medal for Good Conduct.
Ray attended trade school and after graduating he became employed at The Chicago Bridge & Iron Company in Greenville, PA as a Draftsman where he worked his entire career until the plant closed in 1983. While employed there, he met Mary Detelich who worked in the offices and later were married on June 19, 1954 at St. Michaels Church in Greenville. Together they proudly raised two children, Cynthia (1955) and Mark (1958) and remained in Greenville where he dedicated his life to his family.
Over the years he enjoyed playing for CB&I Fast Pitch Softball and Bowling leagues. He loved hunting, golfing, gardening, watching sports of any kind, coaching Little League and along with his wife playing cards with friends. He served on The Board of Directors of the Greenville Area Leisure Services Association for 20 years and dedicated his time to The Greenville Memorial Swimming Pool for the local community. He served as President of The Reynolds Wrestling Boosters Club and was an avid fan of Reynolds Wrestling. He served many years as Chairman of The Board for The Mercer County Housing Authority. He served as Chaplin for The Italian American War Veteran’s and was a life member of The Greenville Italian Home Club and The Greenville VFW. He served as a Lecter and Usher for over 40 years at Saint Michael’s Church in Greenville, Pa. He enjoyed traveling with his wife to visit his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, his most cherished accomplishments.
Although quiet about his war experiences after returning from the Army, in 1995, fifty years after the Flossenburg Liberation he answered an article in the VFW magazine seeking liberators of the camp for testimony of the events that occurred. He later was interviewed by The Spielberg Shoah Foundation who was documenting testimonies of the Holocaust. Later & reluctantly at first, he began to accept invitations to speak about his experiences at local schools because he felt it was important for today’s youth to understand what occurred in history and to learn how fortunate they are to be Americans. He also spoke at many public events including the Pittsburgh Holocaust Center.
He was preceded in death by his Father Michele (81) & Mother Lucia (92). Brother Orlando, age 5, Brother Ed (age 20), two Sisters Mae (age 87) and Yvonne (age 85) and his wife Mary (age 75).
He is survived by a Daughter Cynthia Conte of Richmond Virginia & Husband Joseph, Son Mark of Greenville, Pa. ,7 Grandchildren Michael Conte, Matthew Conte, Samantha Payne, Nicholas Conte, Michael Bartolo, Mikala Bartolo & Anthony “Rocco” Bartolo, and 5 great-grandchildren.
He was a kindly gentleman, loving father, and great American. He was the kind of man God would want every man to be.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Michael Roman Catholic Church, 85 N. High St., Greenville, PA 16125 or to Greenville V.F.W. Post #3374, 54 Conneaut Lake Rd., Greenville, PA 16125.