Dr. William I. Buscemi died peacefully at age 86 (he was born August 29, 1936), in hospice at Northwood Assisted Living in Springfield in the early hours of December 19 of Alzheimer's disease. He is preceded in death by his notoriously mischievous loving wife Jean Colleen (Mullin), who died in May after spending two thirds of a century doting on and teasing Bill in equal measure, and parents Ann (Vitterose) and Tony and brother Mike. Bill is survived by brother Tom of West Jefferson, daughter Sarah Buscemi Gray of Springfield (and her children Brandi, Dominic, Aaron and Dina), son Robert (and wife Janet T. Planet) of Los Angeles and countless adoring friends and relatives.
As the eldest of three brothers raised in the 1950s above Ann and Tony's Restaurant in West Jefferson, Bill in his teens did every job there was, and returned there for meals monthly for the rest of his life. As ferocious at football as he was pitiful at golf, Bill was named a gridiron all-star by the local press even as an underclassman. ("I just knocked down every guy in sight until I got to the one with the ball," he'd crow.) At halftime, he'd play trumpet in full pads with the marching band.
Bill earned his Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and that same year joined the faculty at Wittenberg University, where he would earn tenure and teach for the next third of a century. A wizard in the classroom, he won the "Distinguished Teacher" award in 1983. In his signature "Conservatives and Liberals" class, he'd spend the first half of the semester rabble-rousing and defeating all students in open combat as a fiery conservative, only to switch abruptly in the second half to pin everyone's ears back as a take-no-prisoners liberal. His point was that lived politics are way more about passion, showmanship and worldview than about any supposedly self-evident "neutral" set of facts. No matter how hard students pressed, he never shared his actual leanings. (We won't either, but here's a hint: He accompanied wife Colleen to two national Democratic conventions, where she was a delegate for Gary Hart's Presidential bid in 1986 and Al Gore's in 2000.)
Bill was a devout husband, father, brother, son, colleague and friend, a proud member of Springfield's ROMEO Club (Retired Old Men Eating Out), loved a good walk and a good talk, was a tireless philosopher and consumer of political news, revered the outdoors, pontooned summers from cottages at first Buckeye Lake then Indian Lake, and wintered with Colleen in retired bliss at Sun-N-Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida.
He will be sorely missed. A memorial celebration with brunch will take place at Littleton & Rue's The Landing at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, February 11, 2023. Please dress with a bit of color to encourage Spring. Donations can be made in Bill's name to ACLU.org (the American Civil Liberties Union).
Memories and condolences may be shared at
Funeral Home Information
Littleton & Rue Funeral Home
830 N Limestone Street