Donald W. “Don” Gattone, 91, was peacefully reunited with his family in heaven on Saturday, December 10, 2022, following a long illness with congestive heart failure.
Don was born in the Taylor Street neighborhood of Chicago in 1931, and grew up with his extended family of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. So, it’s no surprise that throughout his life, his family meant everything to him. Don’s childhood summers spent at the family cottage on McCullom Lake eventually led him to McHenry, where he enjoyed family parties, and sailing The AMB (Atsa’ My Boat).
He married the love of his life Patricia Polifronio in 1956, having met her while giving accordion lessons to her nephew Anthony. Their first date was Mass, second was dancing at the Aragon Ballroom, and by then they both knew they would build a life together. But first, Don served as a pharmacist in a MASH unit in Korea, and Patricia kept the music going until his return. They had three children, and lived a life of service to their family, church, and community.
As an independent pharmacist, Don took personal responsibility for his patients’ health. He took calls in the wee hours and on holidays, went to many of their graduations and weddings, made deliveries personally, and long before there were computers, he supported doctors from 17 countries, and learned to type prescription labels in more than a dozen languages. He was a fierce, compassionate advocate for people in need, and was a kind man with a quick laugh, an out-sized sense of humor (and a pun master) and a willingness to jump into new things.
Don was a generous community volunteer, serving as the president of the McHenry Kiwanis and on the board of Family Services. He and Patricia were members of the Italian American Club, and always active in church as volunteers and musicians. After retiring, they both served in the Green Bay Kiwanis. Don was a devout Catholic, and especially proud of his work as a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He sold many thousands of raffle tickets and boiled more than his share of sweet corn to earn money for the church and local charities! After he retired, he and Patricia (herself an accomplished musician) continued to entertain at retirement centers, Italian Club gatherings, and family events, as they had been doing their entire lives. It is impossible to talk about Don without also talking about Patricia: they were best friends, and he treasured every day of their life together. They traveled the world and maintained lifelong friendships which they actively nurtured.
Don was a role model for his children by being such an enthusiastic advocate for Patricia, whether she was directing a Sweet Adelines Chorus, directing her Mary Kay unit, learning music theory, running the church office, or taking care of their parents in her home. Music ran through his and Patricia’s veins, and their gift is now shared by all his kids & grandchildren; he could not have been more proud. Even as his illness took hold, Don continued to sing, play accordion and piano, and connect with music every day of his life. His dignity, kindness, and love of family were central to who he was, and he truly lived his life as a faithful servant.
He will be dearly missed by his wife Patricia; daughter, Cathy Kosinski (Ken); daughter, Mary Rehberg (Richard); and son, Joseph Gattone (Jane); sister, Lucia Gattone-Walls; grandchildren, Crystal Winters, Michael Dulberg, Elizabeth Rehberg, Joseph Rehberg, Richard Rehberg, Sarah Gattone, Matthew Gattone; great-grandchildren, Kaylin Lloyd, Sam Storck, Conner Storck, Tyler Winters, Cole Winters, Isis Dulberg, Jax Dulberg; and great-great grandson, Bently Lloyd.
There will be a Celebration of Don’s Life on Friday, December 16th beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 3425 Willow Road, Green Bay, WI, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 12:00 p.m., with a lunch to follow. Please wear bright colors! To view the funeral Mass, please go to the church’s Facebook page-popgb54311
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Prince of Peace Capital Campaign in his name. Don helped build many parishes over the years (St. Monica, St. William, St. Eugene, and Holy Apostles), and Patricia is continuing their legacy with Prince of Peace.
The family extends their gratitude to all the staff at Unity Hospice, whose kind support and training enabled us to keep him at home, surrounded by love, music, and family.
Carl Pauc is serving the family.