Richard ‘Dick’ Ghelfi
August 24, 1934 - August 2, 2022
Richard Francis “Dick” Ghelfi passed away Tuesday, August 2, at his home, surrounded by his family.
Dick, the last surviving child of Frank Ghelfi and Margaret Jambois, was born on August 24, 1934, and grew up in Genoa, WI. Dick was a natural athlete who spent many hours throwing and hitting rocks into the river and playing as much baseball as he could, especially with his older sister Bernie. After moving to La Crosse, he attended Aquinas High School, where he played basketball and other sports, but baseball was his best and favorite thing to do. He also loved music; he played the trombone and had an excellent singing voice. He sang all his life, mostly to his children and grandchildren, in church, and whenever a family karaoke session broke out.
He graduated from Aquinas in 1952. After high school he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched four years in professional baseball before arm injuries derailed his big-league aspirations. Dick married Nancy Oium of Madison, MN, on January 17, 1959. They were married for 63 years, and Nancy was by his side through all good times and bad right up to the end of his life. Dick is probably best known locally for his longtime business, “Dick Ghelfi’s Pro Shop.” The business started in the basement of his home on 13th St. in La Crosse before he was able to move to his location at Fifth Avenue and Division Street. After 21 years, he sold the business to two of his sons, which became “Fifth Avenue Awards.” He then moved to a new location at 16th and Market streets and shared the building with his good friend, Jim Koelbl. Between Dick’s Pro Shop and Jim’s Barber Shop, hundreds if not thousands of customers were back time and again for bowling equipment and haircuts, or to just participate in the never-ending “bull sessions” full of laughter.
Dick worked until he was 80 years old and would still be there if his health allowed. He was inducted into the La Crosse American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008, the La Crosse River Valley Bowling Hall of Fame in 2009 and finally into the La Crosse Area Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018. You can see his stone marker at the entrance to Copeland Park.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents and five siblings, Joseph, Phillip, Bernard, Genevieve (Lorny) Karl and Bernetta (Gerry) Besl.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his five children, Roxie (Jim) Dotson, Gayle (Sam) Nottleman, Tony (Chris) Ghelfi, Andy Ghelfi and Nick (Paula) Ghelfi, and 10 grandchildren, Drew, Mitch and Zach Ghelfi, Daisy (Ryan) Ruberg and Hattie Nottleman, Josh, Joey and Nicole Ghelfi, Ryan (Milena) Grooms and Carrie (Benito) Certa-Reyes.
Dick’s fun-loving and easy-going nature will be missed dearly by all who knew and loved him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 9, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Father Rick Roberts will officiate. Entombment will be in the the Mormon Coulee Memorial Park. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Schumacher-Kish Funeral & Cremation Services of La Crosse and at the church o from 9:30 a.m. Tuesday until the time of services.
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