John Joseph Montante, spouse, father, father-in-law, grandfather, friend and faith-filled servant of God, died peacefully at Alta Vista Simi Assisted Living in Simi Valley, California on February 1, 2021. John was born on May 22, 1936 in Pittston, PA to Biagio Montante and Maria (Rizzo) Montante. He was preceded in death by his parents, all seven of his siblings, and his wife, Margaret (Peggy) Montante. John is survived by his children Barbara Montante Younger, Dr. Elizabeth Andrews (Copeland), David Montante (Rosa), Mary Woulf (Dave) and James Montante (Kimberly), his ten grandchildren, as well as eight great grandchildren, numerous beloved nieces and nephews and many friends whom he treated like family.
In 1941, the Montante family moved to Buffalo, NY where John attended elementary school at PS #1 and then Buffalo Technical High, an all-boys school. At Buffalo Tech he and his good friend Don Menza, a great tenor saxophonist in the American jazz scene, played football, basketball and studied everything from working machinery in shop to electrical circuitry. Growing up in the post WWII era in a Sicilian-Catholic neighborhood meant John had a gamut of experiences – from playing pool as a 13 year old at “Babe’s Bar”, riding his bike everywhere and sometimes literally ending up on the “wrong side of the tracks.” His mom and dad modeled a steadfast faith in God, reading their prayers and saying the rosary every night. In 1955, much of the family moved to Burbank, CA as work was more plentiful. Our dad met his future wife, Peggy Ward at a CYO dance in the spring of 1956 at Our Lady of Grace parish in Encino. They would never date another person after that dance, marrying on Aug. 23, 1958. After a telephony course at Valley College, John got a job with Cal-Water & Telephone Company as a draftsman and eventually became a field engineer after CWT was bought by General Telephone where he worked until retirement in 1998.
Our dad loved his large family immensely and was definitely a “baby-man” always playing with the little ones who were around. He had a t-shirt for every occasion, some with jokes, many with LA Dodgers and enough USA t-shirts to sink a ship. As a first generation American, Dad loved this country, was grateful for freedom, the beauty of its varied landscape and the opportunities afforded to him by his parents’ hard work. He and our Mom took our family to many California state parks and more than half of the national parks in the USA over the course of our lives. There wasn’t a pun or joke off limits to Dad’s always-at-the-ready sense of humor making us laugh no matter where we were and getting in trouble from Mom for doing so! Even in the last few months when asked “John, how are you feeling?”, he would squeaked out, “With my hands!”
There was nothing our parents didn’t volunteer for at their parishes, be it St. Ferdinand’s in San Fernando or Holy Cross in Moorpark. Dad was very involved in the Knights of Columbus, for most of his years, holding local and state offices. In 1975, he and Mom went on a Marriage Encounter weekend that changed their lives and ours. They grew in faith and witness to a life well lived and dedicated to living out the gospel message; they were an inspiration to us and others. The friendships Dad and Mom would develop through work and church relationships would last a lifetime and bring an unending joy to all of our lives.
Now that Dad has attained the eternal goal for which he was made, joining our Mom and all who have gone before them, we are grateful for the gift our Dad was as a husband, father, uncle and friend.