Bandleader, saxophonist, Commonwealth Edison employee
A Commonwealth Edison equipment operator for more than 30 years, Frank L. Bruno enjoyed an even longer part-time career as a musician, playing saxophone and clarinet in a number of Chicago area big bands including those of Anthony "Dick" Sarlo and Vito Buffalo, eventually leading his own orchestra, The Jolly Corks (aka The Starlighters) , after his retirement from Commonwealth Edison.
Born to Frank and Ida Bruno (Berrettini), he was raised in Melrose Park along with his older brother Louis and younger brother Nick and also began a personal and professional relationship of 87 years with his devoted childhood friend Anthony "Dick" Sarlo. Frank and Dick literally started kindergarten together and both attended what is now Proviso East High School before briefly going their separate ways during WWII.
During the earlier part of his service with the 691st Army Air Force Band, Frank was stationed at Love Field in Dallas, Texas where he first met Virginia (Wilmarth), his future wife of more than 63 years. They were separated when Frank was shipped to the European Theater but were later re-introduced by Jean Di Marco, who was working part time at Oak Park Cleaners during high school where Virginia was also working along with her aunt Dorothy after relocating to the Chicago area in 1946. Frank was playing in the band for Jean's high school prom and she was rattling off the names of the band members when Virginia recognized Frank's name. They were married in 1949.
Frank continued his career as a musician after leaving the service working in bands under Ralph Willoughby, Elmo Tanner, Orrin Tucker and Allan Dewitt. Wanting a steadier source of income than a career as a musician could provide, Frank went to work for Commonwealth Edison in 1951, shortly before the birth of his first son Frank Jr. That did not end his career as a musician. He continued to play in a number of big bands including regular gigs at the Pick Congress in the bands of his friend Dick Sarlo and later with the Vito Buffalo Orchestra. The gigs did not just provide extra income for his family, which soon grew to include sons Paul and Michael, but a host of lifetime friendships and a creative outlet that lasted into his eighties. Frank travelled extensively with his family visiting nearly every national park in the continental United States giving his children a great appreciation of the outdoors and open spaces.
Frank retired from Commonwealth Edison in 1983, spending more of his free time in the business he loved and serving as president of the Elgin chapter of the American Federation of Musicians. He died on February 19th, at Pineview Care Center in St. Charles, surrounded by his family.
Frank is survived by his wife Virginia, sons Frank Jr., Paul and Michael, Daughters-in-Law Mary and Debbie as well as grandchildren Paul Jr. "Tony" and his wife Colleen, Viginia (Ginny) and Adam, brother Nick Bruno Sister-in-Law Mary Bunn and the nieces and nephews of his brother Lou.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 AM on Saturday, March 9th at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 1891 Kaneville Road, in Geneva, Father Martins Emeh, celebrant. Lunch will follow at Salerno's-on-the-Fox.
Burial will be private.
A memorial visitation will be held on Friday, March 8th from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at Malone Funeral Home, 324 East State Street (Route 38) Geneva, Illinois.
For information 630-232-8233