William Buscemi Obituary, Death – Dr. William I. Buscemi passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in the early hours of December 19 while receiving hospice care at Northwood Assisted Living in Springfield. He was 86 years old at the time of his death (he was born on August 29, 1936). He was predeceased by his notoriously mischievous and loving wife Jean Colleen (Mullin), who passed away in May after spending the better part of the last two-thirds of a century doting on and teasing Bill in equal measure.
He was also predeceased by his parents Ann (Vitterose) and Tony, as well as his brother Mike. Bill is survived by his brother Tom, who lives in West Jefferson, his daughter Sarah Buscemi Gray, who lives in Springfield (along with her children Brandi, Dominic, Aaron, and Dina), his son Robert, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Janet T. Planet, and an innumerable number of adoring friends, relatives, and acquaintances.
Bill, the eldest of three brothers who were raised in the 1950s above Ann & Tony’s Restaurant in West Jefferson, worked every job in the restaurant when he was in his teens. He continued to eat there once a month for the rest of his life. Bill was the oldest of the three brothers. Bill was recognized by the community press as a gridiron all-star while he was still an underclassman due to the fact that he was as vicious at football as he was pitiful at golf. He would brag, “I just knocked down every guy in sight until I got to the one with the ball.” He would play trumpet in full pads with the marching band during the halftime break.
In 1969, Bill graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy. That same year, he joined the faculty at Wittenberg University, where he would eventually earn tenure and teach for the next thirty years. In recognition of his outstanding work as an educator, he was given the “Distinguished Teacher” award in 1983. He would spend the first half of the semester in his signature “Conservatives and Liberals” class rabble-rousing and defeating all students in open combat as a fiery conservative.
Then, abruptly switching gears, he would spend the second half of the semester pinning everyone’s ears back as a take-no-prisoners liberal. His point was that politics in real life are significantly more about passion, showmanship, and worldview than they are about any ostensibly self-evident or “neutral” set of facts. No matter how persistent the students were in their questioning, he never revealed his true opinions. (Neither will we, but if you need a hint, here it is: He went with his wife Colleen to both the national Democratic convention in 1986 and the national Democratic convention in 2000, both of which she attended as a delegate for Gary Hart’s presidential campaign.
Bill was a devoted husband, father, brother, son, coworker, and friend. He was a proud member of Springfield’s ROMEO Club (Retired Old Men Eating Out), cherished the outdoors, pontooned summers from cottages at first Buckeye Lake then Indian Lake, and spent his winters with Colleen in retired bliss at Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida. Bill was a tireless philosopher and consumer of political news. He was also
He will be greatly missed by everyone.
A memorial service will be held at Littleton & Rue in February 2023. More information regarding the service will be included in a reprint of this obituary that will be published in these pages closer to the date. ACLU.org is accepting contributions, which can be made in Bill’s name (the American Civil Liberties Union).