Cass Montemurri was born in 1924 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up on St. Joseph Street on the east side of Detroit. These were the immigrant neighborhoods that surrounded the Eastern Market. His father- Angelo was an Italian immigrant who had not been in this country less ten years. His mother- Grace was a first generation Italian-American. His childhood could be defined as being a part of a poor, immigrant family in the throes of the Great Depression. However, instead of being defined by scarcity and deprivation, Cass would describe it as wealthy and abundant with the close ties of family and community. He cherished growing up with his close knit immediate family and the large array of aunts, uncles and cousins who always were nearby. Indeed one of his closest, lifelong friends was his first cousin Joe Bruno. There is no doubt that the reality of the times also taught him the value of thriftiness and hard work. As soon as he was old enough, he would work early mornings before school at the Eastern Market to earn money to contribute to the family. And here he grew a keen appreciation for his heritage both as an Italian and as an American. But most of all, St. Joseph Street embedded in his very soul the value of friends, family and faith.
He graduated from Detroit Eastern High School in January of 1942. After graduating from high school, he began a short lived tool and dye apprenticeship. He had wanted to enlist in the Army as war had been declared, but Grace would not give the required signature approval. However, he proudly stepped up to the plate when Uncle Sam called his number. Within months of graduating from High School, he was drafted. He went through boot camp and was on his way to the Pacific. Here he was, a young man who had barely been outside of the streets of Detroit, finding himself on an island he never heard of in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from home. He served bravely, and to the end was proud to have served as a U.S. Soldier. "Once a soldier always a soldier" he would say. World War II did much to mold his life; first off it emboldened his love of this country. His father had planted these seeds of patriotism, but the purpose of the American Army in World War II had solidified it. It was also in war, that he realized that he must have a greater purpose. He started putting away money to do something almost no one from the old neighborhood had done- go to college. Finally, the strength he would derive from his faith, would forever be an emblem of his character.
After the war, he went to Michigan State University on the GI Bill. He pledged the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and graduated with a degree in Economics in 1951. He made life-long friends at State, as he found a new community of friends he would value to the end. He tried out a couple of career paths before he settled on the automobile industry. He joined the Chrysler Corporation working his way through the ranks in the field of personnel management and labor relations. His values and experiences had prepared him, maybe even destined him to do well- or maybe he just would not have had it any other way. Along the way, he would never sacrifice his values for the sake of getting ahead.
He met his soul mate while at Michigan State. Ellen had become a close friend among their circle of acquaintances, when Cass took a leap of faith and asked her to marry him. They had barely been on one date! They began a fifty-five year partnership. To say he was a devoted husband would be a gross understatement. Never did a day go by without him professing his love for her. Even after her passing, he continued to profess that love every day.
They had five children, and nothing was more important to him than his "job" as father. If he ever had regrets, it was that he did not "do enough" as a father. How foolish he was to think such a thing. He was the kind of dad that would come home after a long day of work, and always had time to pull his kids up on his lap and hear what they had to say. He was the kind of dad that never missed a hockey game or football game or swim meet that his children were participating in. He was the kind of dad that kept all his kids pictures in his wallet, and their "artwork" in his office. He was the kind of dad that seemed to be there to pick his kids up and help brush off the dirt when they fell down. He worked hard to provide, encourage and instill the same type of appreciation for family, friends and faith that he grew up with. He did not think twice about sacrificing for his children. He wanted to provide the financial means so that each of them could live up to their potential. He succeeded, but more importantly he provided a moral foundation and a living example of the real priorities that define success.
MONTEMURRI, Casmier "Cass", age 88, of Rochester, November 14, 2012. Husband of the late Ellen Lou; father of Elizabeth (Roger) Lawrence, Stephen (Maureen), Michael (Sharon), David (Joette) and Thomas (Cathy) Montemurri; grandfather of Lauren, Christopher, Meghan, Katharine, Erin, Celia and Elise; brother of Sara Montemurri; Funeral Mass Wednesday (instate 9:30 a.m.)10:00 a.m. St. Irenaeus Catholic Church, 771 Old Perch Rd., Rochester Hills; Visitation Tuesday 2-4 & 6-9 p.m. at Pixley Funeral Home, 322 W. University Dr., Rochester. Scripture service Tuesday 7:30 p.m. at the funeral home.
Memorial contributions to Honor Flight Michigan, P.O. Box 237, Royal Oak, MI 48068; www.honorflightmichigan.com/donations or American Lung Association, 25900 Greenfield Rd., Ste. 610, Oak Park, MI 48237 would be greatly appreciated. Please leave condolences at www.pixleyfh.com