Alexander John “Butz” Bartolino, 87, passed away peacefully December 30 at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center after a courageous two-year fight against cancer. Those who knew him surely remember him as a gregarious, funny, generous, kind-hearted person who would do anything for anyone.
Born in Princeton, he was a resident of West Windsor for 50 years, living in the home by Grovers Mill Pond that he proudly and expertly built in 1970 after having the foresight to buy the vacant lot years earlier. Given his incredible craftsmanship with electrical work, the least surprising aspect of his new home is the incredible number of outlets in every single room. In addition, every garden tool was hung in the garage by a nail on the 2x6 board that bore the name of the tool to be placed there, and he let you know if you ever dared to hang a tool in the wrong location after using it.
Alex graduated from St. Paul’s Grammar School in 1947 and Princeton High School in 1951, when he met the love of his life, Mary Armonia. He was accepted into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union, Local #269, immediately after graduating high school and was a proud member for the 43 years of his employment through the union, having retired in 1995. He lived by the adage that no job was worth doing unless it was done well, and there were never any shortcuts when Alex was in charge of the work.
Alex was drafted into the US Army in March 1953, and after basic training served the remainder of his two years in Korea during that conflict, where he attained the rank of Sergeant. Although his video camera never made it back to the states—he always surmised that someone stole it during the mail process—his 8mm film did make it home and memorialize his proud presence serving on behalf of his country. In addition, the footage also confirms that he and his comrades were no strangers to cavorting with the local Korean women, who surely liked the attention from the soldiers.
He resumed his electrical apprenticeship with R. F. Johnson Electric in Princeton immediately following his discharge from the Army in March 1955, an experience for which he was truly grateful and that paved the way for his many skilled years working for IBEW. He married Mary shortly after returning to the states and began his family with the birth of Jeff in 1957 and Ken a year later, and later became the proud grandfather of his four grandchildren.
Alex was an active member of American Legion Post 76 and the Princeton Italian-American Sportsmen’s Club, both of which he served for more than a half century. He was also a longtime member of St. Paul’s Parish, and served as an usher for many years. He loved playing golf—though he said it didn’t often love him—and he played at least weekly year round with his regular group of fellow duffers. We are sure that there was a police presence when the group made its annual golf pilgrimage to Ocean City, MD or the Outer Banks, but thankfully no formal charges were ever filed. He spent a lifetime trying to correct his slice, finally (and sensibly) giving in and simply aiming left with his tee shots. You could see his pride when he played golf with his son Jeff and grandson Brad years ago: three generations of Bartolinos hacking up the course. On the rare occasions when it was too cold for golf, Alex would lace up his skates and head for the Mercer County Park rink, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was an active senior, going for long walks or bike rides on a regular basis, all of which led to his receiving many compliments about how youthful he looked (often to the irritation of Mary).
He enjoyed the various classes he took at the West Windsor Senior Center, and no recap of his life would be complete without a mention of the tap dancing that he took up in retirement. He and Mary were known for their dancing skills, and he transferred that to the hardwood with a special group of women who performed at local public venues. He loved his classes at the Bordentown Senior Center, the Dance Corner in West Windsor, and the Hamilton Twp YMCA. Mary would often refer to him as “Bojangles,” though not always necessarily with affection.
Alex was the son of the late Nicholas and Johanna (Schannel) Bartolino, and was predeceased by his brothers John, Nicholas and Anthony and two sisters, Anna and Nancy. He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Mary Bartolino, and sons Jeff (Vicki) and Ken (Donna). He also leaves behind the grandchildren of whom he was so proud: Bradley Bartolino, Jamie Quinn (Colin), Gina Bartolino and Mira Bartolino. Alex is also survived by his sister, Elizabeth Descoteau Bartolino, and many nieces and nephews and other relatives and friends with whom he was extremely close.
In addition to the many family members and friends whose support was a great source of comfort to the immediate family, we would like extend a special thank-you to Alex’s niece, Beverly Bartolino, whose invaluable presence and assistance made a difficult situation much more bearable.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held privately due to COVID-19 restrictions, and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date in 2021. Memorial contributions may be made in Mr. Bartolino’s name to St. Paul’s Church. Arrangements are under the direction of Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton NJ 08542, 609-924-0242. www.matherhodge.com.