Mary Ellen Buscemi Cessna died on April 5, 2013 at her home in Valparaiso, Ind. aged 89 years.
Mary Ellen was born in Centerville on Nov. 25 1923. She was one of nine children of Pietro and Angelina Buscemi, immigrants to Centerville from Calascibetta and Villarosa, Sicily along with Pietro's brothers. Pietro and Angelina were the original owners of the Bluebird Cafe first located on Midway/"Pill Row" (13th Street) moving to the present location on the Square's south side in 1923. During the Depression, Pietro found work in the steel mills of Gary, Ind. The family followed but their contact with Centerville was almost unbroken, the family returning for vacations and Buscemi family events.
Mary Ellen was educated in Gary and worked there for the U.S.Naval Dept., Gordon's Dept. Store, the Lake County Clerk's Office, the IRS, Merrillville's Ross Clinic, the Post Tribune newspaper and at the Porter-Starke Services. On Feb. 27 1960 she married Paul Cessna and became the mother of one son: Kevin. Throughout her life, she volunteered for work in her church, at Gary Mercy Hospital, and at St, Agnes Adult Day Care Center; she was an officer in the American-Italian Benevolent Society, secretary of the Italian Catholic Federation and an active member of Delta Sigma Pi Sorority.
Preceding her in death were her parents, and all eight of her brothers and sisters, uncles Mike and Jesse Buscemi who ran the Bluebird after her father, and beloved Aunt Opal who was married to Mike and who on Mike's death married Centerville mayor Dan Tweedy. One of her brothers, John, well known in Centerville was a prize-winning photographer for Yank magazine in World War II. While on assignment he was killed on Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The story of this brother, and vital and personal information of the Buscemi family, Mary Ellen shared with Enfys McMurry for "Centerville: A Mid-American Saga."
Mary Ellen is survived by her son, Kevin, who describes his mother as a wonderful role model, always acting with dignity and wisdom, always moved by empathy for others, and by commitment to her large extended family. At Mary Ellen's request, there was no visitation and no funeral. Following cremation, a memorial mass is planned for May 4.