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Bruno “Sonny” Stanislawski
Major Bruno Stanislawski passed away at 17:05 on June 9th, 2023 in Plantation, Florida after a 20-year intermittent battle with cancer. The legendary man and servant leader was surrounded by his loving family.
Bruno Stanislawski was born April 26th, 1935 in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Bennie and Leocadia (“Lottie”, “Babci”) Stanislawski. Bennie immigrated from Poland to the United States when he was 17 years old. Leocadia was a first-generation Polish immigrant, born in Connecticut. Bruno grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey as the third of five children (Caroline, Barbara, Bruno, Loretta [Babe], and Joseph).
Bennie and Lottie owned a building in Elizabeth where they lived and managed the Whitehorse Tavern. Being a rather rambunctious child, at about 6 years old, Bruno jumped off one of the nearby docks into the water thinking that he could swim as he’d seen others do. However, desperately trying to swim, Bruno quickly realized his error and began sinking. Luckily, one of the boarders (Ollie) became aware of the situation and dove in to save Bruno. Ollie’s heroic action turned out to be a huge blessing to Bruno’s future family.
Bruno attended St. Adalbert’s Catholic School and Jefferson High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. At the age of 17, Bruno enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps to begin a lifelong commitment as a Marine. He continued in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at West Virginia University, where he studied to become a teacher and played football, gymnastics and basketball. One of his teammates, Sam Huff later played for the NFL New York Giants. Bruno also played on the Marine Corps football team in running back and defensive back positions.
On a fateful rainy day in the summer of 1957, at the age of 22 Bruno was home from college, and driving with his high school pal, Marty Korab, to pick up Bruno’s sister Loretta from her job at the Esso Research and Engineering Company in Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Loretta had offered her friend, Antoinette DiSarro, a ride home on this rainy day. After about a year-long romance, despite the grumblings of Dominic, Antoinette’s father, Bruno and Antoinette (Toni) were married on February 8, 1958 at St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. While dating, expert dancer John Penczak (husband to Bruno’s sister Caroline) provided Bruno and Toni with dancing instructions, whereby they enjoyed dancing polkas at their wedding reception and many subsequent weddings and other festivities that followed.
Bruno graduated from West Virginia University and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marines at Quantico, Virginia in 1957. After their 1958 marriage Bruno and Toni moved to Hawaii where Bruno completed his active service for the Marines at the Oahu base. During this time son’s Michael and Matthew were born. After completing active service in Hawaii, Bruno continued in the Marine Corp Reserves. The family moved back to New Jersey where Bruno taught carpentry in shop class at Islen Junior High School. In the years that followed the family grew as son Lawrence, daughter Teresa, and son Stephen were born. Through Bruno’s activities in the Marines, the family enjoyed several summers with many happy memories in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. There the family played at the beach and in swim clubs, learned about military equipment and training, and ate at many fabulous restaurants. Furthermore, Bruno and family enjoyed many Sunday brunches in the Officer’s Club. Bruno completed his career in the Marine Corps in 1978 as a Major, 21 years after he enlisted.
In 1965 Bruno accepted teaching and coaching positions for Hallandale High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Toni was more than happy to move the family to Florida after having experienced the warm Hawaii weather. Initially the family lived in an apartment in Ft. Lauderdale. Within a year they moved to a house in Sunrise, Florida and Bruno later accepted a teaching position at Plantation High School. Here, Bruno and Toni welcomed Marianne to the family. Finally, in 1969, the family moved to their current residence in Plantation, Florida where much later they welcomed and raised their youngest child, Elizabeth.
Bruno completed a Master’s in Business Administration from Florida Atlantic University. He continued teaching at Plantation High School where he also coached football, wrestling and assisted with other sports activities. He became Dean of the High School and later was an Adult Education Administrator in Broward County. The children attended St. Gregory Catholic School and later attended and graduated from either Plantation or St. Thomas Aquinas High Schools.
Bruno and Toni spent many years teaching and directing the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) Program for St. Gregory Catholic Parish. With the help of their children they regularly prepared the Christmas manger and other decorations for the church. They also helped with other fundraising activities for the school such as the annual school fair. Being a skilled carpenter, Bruno and family often assisted with building and repairing the school and parish facilities. In the years that followed Bruno continued his service to St. Gregory’s as a lector and member of the choir.
Bruno was extremely active throughout his life participating in swimming, bowling, biking, golfing, gardening, and working in his home wood shop where he loved to create and craft items to share—such as bowls, cradles, rocking chairs, cutting boards, and crucifixes, which he gifted to family, friends, and member of the community. Bruno’s greatest joy came from spending time with his family. He regularly helped coordinate activities with family members, such as Christmas trips from Florida to New Jersey to spend time with his siblings and their families, along with Toni’s family. Later, as the family grew, Bruno helped coordinate family reunions. Aside from travelling to foreign lands, such as Italy, Poland, France, and Germany, with his wife Toni, Bruno enjoyed spending time with his family. One of his favorite locations was Disney World, in Orlando Florida, where strong family values and the wonders of the world and imagination would always be promoted, experienced, and exemplified.
Bruno is preceded in death by his father (Bennie Stanislawski), mother (Leocadia Stanislawski or Babci), sister (Caroline Penczak) and leaves behind his loving wife of 65 years, Antoinette, two sisters (Barbara Meeh and Loretta Salt), brother (Joseph Stanislawski), son Michael Stanislawski (wife Kim), son Matthew Stanislawski (wife Cherie), son Lawrence Stanislawski (wife Katherine), daughter Teresa Vest (husband Brent), son Stephen Stanislawski (wife Tami), daughter Marianne Stanislawski, and “the fairest of them all” daughter Elizabeth Stanislawski.
Bruno and Toni enjoy sharing and creating memories with 15 grandchildren: Christopher Stanislawski and Katie Manning (Michael and Kim Stanislawski); Nicholas Stanislawski and Melissa Mongia (Matthew and Cherie Stanislawski); Angelica Mata, Ariana Stanislawski, Gabriel Stanislawski, Eliana Stanislawski, and Roman Stanislawski (Lawrence and Katherine Stanislawski); Ashley Vest, Tyler Vest, and Nicoletta Cruz (Teresa and Brent Vest); Staff Sergeant Mitchell Stanislawski and Andrew Stanislawski (Stephen and Tami Stanislawski); and Vincent Stanislawski (Marianne Stanislawski), and 15 great grandchildren: Lucy, Wendy, and Bruno Stanislawski (Christopher and Jessica Stanislawski); Logan and Maisey Manning (Katie and Joe Manning); Lily, and Lila Stanislawski (Nicholas and Hilary Stanislawski); Max and Madeline Mongia (Melissa and Sameer Mongia); Nyah and Royal Newton (Angelica Mata); Leocadia Stanislawski (Ariana Stanislawski); Alora Vest (Ashley Vest); Dominic and Jackson Cruz (Nicoletta and Samuel Cruz).
Visitation will be Saturday, June 24th, 2023, 5:00PM-7:00PM, at T. M. Ralph Plantation Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial is Monday, June 26th, 2023, 11:00AM, St. Gregory The Great Catholic Church. Interment will take place in Quantico National Cemetery, Triangle, VA.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking donations be placed with The Wounded Warrior Project or The Cleveland Clinic for Cancer Research – VeloSano