Photography

Michael James Ciochetti, Sr.

July 10, 1931 ~ April 23, 2022 (age 90)

Obituary Image

Obituary

Michael James Ciochetti Sr. went to Heaven on Saturday, April 23, 2022.  He was 90 years old.  “Mr. C”or “Pop Pop” as so many knew him, was born in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois on July 10, 1931.  He peacefully passed away after a battle with cancer at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.  

Mike’s life and legacy reads like a novel.  His father, James Ciochetti, fought in World War I for the Italian 141st Army Regiment.  James met his love, Domenica Trione, in northern Italy where they were later married.  Their first child, Batistina, was also born in Italy.  The family moved to Chicago in 1926, where they had two more children - another daughter, Diana, and ultimately their only son, Michael.  

Despite being the baby boy of the family, Michael became the man of the house at just thirteen years old when his father was killed in an industrial accident at Kensington Steel during World War II.  This was a devastating loss for young Mike; however, with the steadfast support of his mother and two older sisters, Michael -“Lino” as they called him - developed a wonderful sense of humor and vibrant personality! He was terrific to just be around. He started a comedy band named “Joe Banana and His Bunch”. Guess who Joe Banana was?! He was elected Fenger High School Homecoming King.

Not only did those women in his life nurture his personality, Mike became an accomplished athlete. The story goes that as he was running down the football field, in his peripheral vision he’d see his sister, Diana, running all the way down the sidelines with him. The crowd would cheer, “WE LOVE CHICKEN! WE LOVE SPAGHETTI! BUT MOST OF ALL, WE LOVE CIOCHETTI!” His football team played for the Chicago City Championship of 1948, and he was named an All City Chicago football player.  He earned a full scholarship to Western Illinois University.   

After just one year at W.I.U. the Korean War began. Michael walked away from his football scholarship to enlist in the U.S. Army.  There he rose in the ranks to Staff Sergeant of the 11th Airborne Division.  He loved his country and truly believed it to be his duty to serve.  Two of his biggest lifelong regrets were not being deployed overseas, and not staying in the military to make it a career.  A third regret was not finishing college.  However, none of these decisions would hold him back from leading an amazing life.  

After serving in the U.S. Airborne, he returned to Chicago where his entrepreneurial endeavors were spawned.  He opened a bar and grill named “Club de Bleu” in South Chicago.  

In 1957, Jeanette Irene Nawalaniec caught his eye while she was playing softball. They were introduced by a mutual friend, and Mike quickly admitted that she had the nicest legs he had ever seen.  Many now know her as “Babu” or “Jan”.  The two were married on June 14th, 1958.  The newlyweds honeymooned at the Havana Hilton in Cuba. They mentioned many times how they could hear the gunfire of Castro’s rebels making their way towards the city center.  Nine months later the couple gave birth to their son, Michael James Ciochetti Jr. 

The family ultimately settled in Hialeah, Florida where Mike worked as a carpenter.  Being an employee did not suit him very well, so he started a small, successful concrete finishing company, Mud Concrete Service, with his brother in law. During this time, his adoring Michelle was born, and an incredible father/daughter bond was formed. She would wholeheartedly confirm that she had the best “Daddy O’Dailey” ever!

In the late 1960’s, Mike was approached by a company named Pace Pools.  They made him an offer he could not refuse when they asked him to become a job supervisor.  In a weird twist of fate, Pace Pools went out of business a few years later, while leaving several homeowners with partially completed swimming pools in their backyards.  This rekindled Mike’s entrepreneurial spirit, and he established Apex Custom Pools, Inc. to finish what his previous employer had started.  

The unfinished swimming pools were successfully completed much to the customer’s satisfaction. Over the next few years Apex Custom Pools became the largest swimming pool construction company in the state of Florida, constructing 620 swimming pools in a single calendar year at its peak.  

When the U.S. economy crashed in the mid-seventies, the company was closed. Mike had to reinvent himself once again. Being a resilient, hardworking, and driven man - bent, but never broken - he founded T.L.C. Pools.  Mike used his knowledge of swimming pool pump mechanics and channeled his creative side to invent a lifesaving device called “Vac Alert”.  The device prevented swimmers from being inadvertently entrapped by the powerful suction of swimming pool and spa main drains, a problem that had caused numerous fatalities and injuries nationwide for years.  Vac Alert was granted a U.S. Copyright Patent, and it is impossible to know the number of lives he saved.

Mike was the co-founder of Rabun ABC Package Store and Huddle House Restaurant both in Clayton, Georgia. Additionally, he was one of the founding investors of Heaven’s Landing.  He analyzed ventures and took many other risks, some that panned out and some that didn’t, but he was not afraid to take chances. He was a trooper at heart, after all!

He was active in several community theaters, the most recent being the Northeast Georgia Community Players whose cast members he loved! He played many memorable roles in shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Peter Pan, You Can’t Take it with You (hysterical Russian dance instructor), Noah, and The Odd Couple, just to name a few! On top of his love for the theater, he loved his Friday night poker buddies. He ever enjoyed these special things in his life.

Despite his myriad of lifelong accomplishments, it is impossible to capture the essence of Mike Ciochetti, Sr.  He always remained humble, unselfish, and fun.  He was always eager to help anyone in need.  He was kind and ready to make new friends, accepting of others, and non-judgemental.  He loved to dance, and he loved to entertain.  He always wanted everyone to have a good time, enjoy each other’s company, and enjoy the life we were given. 

Although he had strong feelings about what might make the world a better place, he was truly compassionate through and through.  He emphasized and epitomized love.  This was especially evident as it related to his family and friends who are left to manage the grief of losing such an incredible patriarch.  His was a life very well lived, and his legacy will be carried on for generations by the loving family who revered him. He set an incredibly high standard for strength, vitality, and heart!  

Michael James Ciochetti Sr. is survived by his wife Jeanette Irene Ciochetti, his son Michael (Holly) Ciochetti Jr., his daughter Michelle (Steve) Black, grandchildren Ashley (Katie) Ciochetti, Michael (Caitlyn) Ciochetti, Jr., Thaddeus (Chrissy) Black, Elijah Black, Samuel Black, Sean Macaulay, Bella Ciochetti, Taylor (Megan) Sisto, Vanessa Sisto, great-grandchildren Laban Long, Stele Beane, Campbell Ciochetti, and Niko Sisto.

 

The visitation will be held at Beck’s Funeral Home on Friday, April 29th from 4:00pm - 8:00pm.

 

A funeral mass will be held at St. Helena’s Catholic Church on Saturday, April 30th at noon.

 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation PO Box 40726 Nashville, TN 37204 or to the Rabun County High School Fine Arts Department 230 Wildcat Hill Dr, Tiger, GA 30576.

 

Beck Funeral Home, in Clayton, Georgia, is in charge of the arrangements. If there are any questions, please call 706-782-9599. An online Memorial Register Book is available at www.beckfuneralhome.com.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Michael James Ciochetti, Sr., please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Friday
April 29, 2022

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Beck Funeral Home
898 Hwy 441 South
Clayton, GA 30525

Funeral Mass
Saturday
April 30, 2022

12:00 PM
St. Helena s Catholic Church

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