Einan's Funeral Home
John A. Napoli passed away on Monday, July 30, 2007, at the age of 85.
John and Louise, his wife of 61 years, lived and worked in the Tri-Cities since 1952.
They were members of Christ the King parish and raised their two children, John W. Napoli and Lisa Napoli O'Toole, in Richland.
John was larger than life. He was proud of his Italian heritage and his service in World War II. He was equally proud of the family he and Louise created, and the success enjoyed by his children and grandchildren.
John was born in 1922 in New York City of Italian immigrants, Nicola and Ida Napoli.
When John was very young, his family returned to Italy, where they lived for several years.
The family returned to New York in the late 1920s and John entered the New York public school system speaking only Italian. Nevertheless, he excelled in school and graduated from New York's prestigious Stuyvesant High School, specializing in math and science.
Upon graduating from high school in 1939, John traveled west to the University of Idaho, where he had received a scholarship.
In December 1941, the United States entered the Second World War and, in June 1942, John enlisted at the age of 19 in the Army Air Corps.
John was trained as a bomber pilot and was assigned to the 15th Air Force, 456th Bomb Group, in Stornara, Italy, in mid-1944. John was a pilot for 33 missions, flying B-24 Liberators.
On December 16, 1944, the day the Battle of the Bulge began, John's B-24 was shot down on a mission over the Brux oil refinery in Germany.
John and his crew bailed out after they lost their second engine. John's parachute was missing three panels and he was badly injured when he hit the ground. H
e was captured by the Germans after hiding out for three days in the German countryside. John spent Christmas 1944 being interrogated by the Germans. Eventually, he was sent to the German POW camp Luft Stalag 1, where he was reunited with his crew. They were liberated by the Russians on May 1, 1945.
Following the war, John married Louise Schell in 1946.
Following the birth of their son, John W. Napoli, the family remained in the service, stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, until 1950.
In 1952, the family moved to Richland, where they opened 'Johnny's Delicatessen' in Uptown, Richland.
The deli specialized in Italian meats, cheeses and other delicacies. At that time, 'Johnny's' was the only grocery store open evenings and holidays.
In the late-1950s, while still running 'Johnny's,' John and Louise opened Western Auto on Fourth Street, in Pasco. The store sold a variety of goods, including everything from tires to tools to furniture. John eventually relocated the store to West Lewis Street in Pasco.
He subsequently converted the store to Western True Value and it thrived as the surrounding community grew. It remained a strong business into the 1990s.
In 1961, John and Louise welcomed the arrival of their daughter, Lisa.
His college years being interrupted by the war, John worked diligently to obtain his college degree from Whitman College. Although a husband, father of two and owner of two businesses, John commuted several times a week to Walla Walla to attend classes.
In 1964, he received his B.A. in economics and business administration from Whitman College, the same year his son graduated from Columbia High School.
In the 1970s and 1980s, John devoted much of his time to numerous volunteer activities. He was a long-time usher at Christ the King Church in Richland, president of the Christ the King School Home and School Association, local president of Goodwill Industries and local chapter chairman of the American Red Cross.
John's commitment to American Red Cross spanned more than 40 years and was borne out of gratitude to the Red Cross for the packages received by him and his fellow POWs while in Luft Stalag 1.
He was the Red Cross Inland Empire Division Council Chairman and on the Red Cross Western Area Advisory Council.
In recent years, John enjoyed his children and grandchildren, Julia and Michael.
Even as his health began to fail him, he found strength and joy from his family and friends.
John was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Edward L. Napoli.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Louise Napoli, his son, John W. Napoli, his daughter, Lisa Napoli O'Toole, his son-in-law, Scott O'Toole, and his grandchildren, Julia and Michael O'Toole.
John's funeral Mass will be Saturday, August 4, 200, at 1 p.m. at Christ the King Catholic Church in Richland.
A viewing will be held on Friday, August 3, 200, from 5:15 to 7 p.m., followed immediately by a rosary at 7 a.m., both at Christ the King in Richland.
John will be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery, a military/veteran's cemetery, in Kent, Washington, on Monday, August 6, 2007, at 11 a.m.
Funeral arrangements are being made through Einan's Funeral Home, Richland.
Published in the Tri-City Herald from 8/2/2007 - 8/3/2007.