top of page

Madera’s ‘Godfather’ is gone

Madera Tribune File Photo

Sam Pistoresi, 87, in the garden of his south Madera home.


Sam Pistoresi, patriarch of 3 generations of Italians and their families, dies at 87

Madera entrepreneur Sam Pistoresi, 87, died at home on June 21. Born May 9, 1932, the native and lifelong Maderan was known for his work ethic, acquired from his parents, August and Norma Pistoresi. From the time he was a very young child he worked on the family farm. The knowledge he picked up there carried him to success throughout his life.

“Sam and I would go hunting on the first day of dove hunting season,” said his first cousin, Lawrence Bernardi. “Nell Bomprezzi, Modesto Morini and Ron Pistoresi made up the core group on these excursions,”

After hunting, the friends would retire to the Pistoresi place where Sam would barbecue steaks for the group, Bernardi said.

About every five years, the greater Pistoresi family and their friends would gather for a family reunion. Plans were being formulated to hold the reunions every year but Bernardi said he wasn’t sure how that would go, as Sam was the main organizer for these events.

The owner of Pistoresi Land Leveling since 1965 he has helped generations of growers turn raw dirt into workable and fertile farmland for orchards, vineyards and row crops. Using a bull-dozer, ripper and scraper, Pistoresi and his crews prepared the soil for planting.

During the drought of the mid-1970s, he became one of the founding partners of Madera Pumps.

He attended local schools and graduated from Madera Union High School with the class of 1948. He married his high school sweetheart Joy Ann Del Bono on Feb.3, 1952. They had two daughters, Patricia Ann Bowery and Joy Elaine Pistoresi.

He served in the US Navy during the Korean War and was stationed off the coast of North Korea.

He provided support for local veterans projects after he returned from the service.

He loved farming and worked in numerous segments of agriculture during his life. For recreation, he enjoyed dove hunting, golf, dredging for gold in Coarsegold, and antiquing with his wife Joy.

Bernardi has fond memories of attending Trade Club dinners and other local events with Sam.

When they formed Madera Pumps the owners each year threw legendary Christmas Parties with long guest lists that included many of the area’s political leaders These gatherings were Madera Pump’s way of showing their appreciation for their customers.

Sam, an avid gardener loved spending time in his tomato garden where he enjoyed sharing his bounty with friends and family.

He and Joy would have their crop of tomatoes dried, and sell or give the delicacy to friends, some of whom still horde the sweet morsels, putting a teaspoon or two into spaghetti sauce other Italian home-cooked food.

Sam enjoyed throwing backyard barbecues, and dinner parties, along with hosting fundraisers and family reunions.

Sam also enjoyed taking friends and relatives to lunch at his favorite restaurants in town, luncheons where the conversation was peppered with local politics and droll with laughter.

Mr. Pistoresi also was fond of writing letters to the editor of the Madera Tribune, especially at election time. These letters, which he wrote out by hand, could give a good hiding to politicians whose behavior seemed to him to be not in the best interests of the people.

First and foremost, though, Sam was a family man. He especially loved being called Nonno by his grandchildren and enjoyed the time spent with them.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Helen Spink and beloved wife, Joy, in 2015 after 63 years of marriage.

He leaves behind his daughters, Patti Bowery and Elaine Pistoresi; granddaughters Cherrise Miles and Nikki Bowery; great grandchildren Chyrell, Christian, Jasmine, Shone, and Destinee; great-great-grandchildren Ryllie and Michael; his sister-in-law, Dorothy Prosperi; nieces Diane Massetti and Nancy Rigby, nephews Denis Prosperi and Russell Spink.

Sam also leaves behind numerous friends and extended family.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, June 28, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. at Jay Chapel in Madera. A celebration of life will follow at the Pistoresi residence where friends and family are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Sam Pistoresi to Friends of the Madera Animal Shelter P.O. Box 923, Madera, CA 93639.

bottom of page