Ineo "Jack" Rantucci
Sep 10, 1913 – Dec 16, 2014
Ineo “Jack” Rantucci left Italy, via vessel, on February 28, 1931 with his father. They arrived in the United States on March 10. He was 17 years old and knew not one word in the English Language.
Although not much occurred for his first 4 years in the US, he did become a US Citizen in 1934 and in 1935 a young man he had met asked him if he was interested in a restaurant job. It was a position of pantry man at Von’s Café, making salads.
He would tell us, he sure was interested since he wasn’t working and this meant three meals a day and some cash.
The job changed his life as he simply became interested in food preparation.
In 1936, a friend, Paul Muller, became Executive Chef at the Rainier Club and asked Jack to work with him. He hesitated, but finally joined Muller, becoming a specialist in food buffet decorations. He had to use his imagination and it just seemed that decorating ideas came natural to him.
Although, gathering experience from other positions at the Olympic Hotel and The New Washington Hotel, he became drafted in the Army in 1941. As a result of a disability, he was not able to serve and was honorably discharged, however, since everyone was being asked to support the war effort, Jack learned how to read blueprints and worked at Lockheed Shipyard until 1946.
In 1945 Jack married Onolda Ciaccia in Kelowna, B.C. and started his family life. Husband, wife, daughter and son became deeply engaged in their Parish Church of St. Peter’s on Beacon Hill.
After the war ended Mr. John Carlson, General Manager of the Rainier Club, requested Jack to return, which he did.
Muller, who remained working at the Rainier Club, told Jack “Go to school so you can learn something”. Jack had taken extension classes at the University of Washington and when Muller originated a culinary school at Edison Technical School, Jack was given a teaching opportunity. He did need more education to qualify, but managed that, then spent four years instructing in cooking and decorating.
The pressure of two careers was too much, so he left the teaching position and concentrated on the Rainier Club Kitchen.
During the 1950’s The Rainier Club along with Jack, won numerous Grand Prize and First Place Awards in the Pacific Northwest Culinary Art Exhibits. The acre or so of food, during these exhibits, were not subjected to the fate of being eaten, at least until the exhibit closed. In the meantime, however, Pacific Northwest restaurateurs and their employees, as well as thousands of spectators would groan with admiration or stood in awestruck silence before the stupendous smorgasbord. On the humorous side, earlier as the displays were set up, the showroom would be tense with temperament and awash with French, Italian and German dialogue.
He loved his work and he worked hard and was always in demand.
Subsequently, he soon faced more pressure: the Washington Athletic Club wanted him on its staff. He gave in and for nine years lent his culinary skills to the WAC. Then back to his first love, the Rainier Club, for 15 years until he retired. Jack was well known in the industry and in between his moves mentioned above, he was recruited by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel located in Waikiki Beach in 1958. The historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel (opened in 1927) remains in existence today as a member of the Starwood Hotel & Resorts Luxury Collection. Believe it or not, there was not enough family consensus and thus Jack passed on the assignment.
Shortly after the death of his wife, he retired in 1978 as Chef Garde Manager (buffet specialist) at the Rainier Club.
After his retirement, he remained involved with many organizations including: Order of the Sons of Italy, West Side Italian Civic Club, Knights of Columbus and Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club as well as numerous others. He endlessly offered his skills and talents to prepare annual luncheons and banquets.
The people who enjoyed his efforts, know that he maintained the standards he set for himself 50 years ago. Also during this time he married Irene Gentry who he met at the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club and they were parishioners at St. Anthony in Renton.
At home when he would have guests, he would do the cooking. He had no favorite food and cooked whatever he felt the guests would like. He also made certain before the preparation that he was not planning some food that a guest could not eat. At one of his annual Italian feasts, he was asked if he selected the “Bow Tie” form of pasta because the sauce clings to them so well, he smiled and shook his head. “It is easier to eat”
When Jack turned 100 years old, he received a Papal Blessing from Pope Francis as well as a blessing from The Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain. He cherished these gifts greatly.
One last note relates to why everyone called him Jack. Well, one of his co-workers could not pronounce Ineo correctly and so, that individual decided to call him Jack and it stuck. He was preceded in death by his wife Onolda Rantucci and Irene Rantucci and sister Tea. Surviving are his daughter, Sylvia (Alan) Doerschel, a son Robert Rantucci, a granddaughter Denise (Pawel) Lukaszow, a sister Norma as well as many nieces and nephews in Italy.
Dad, it is your time to rest and relax in peace now. We will miss you as we have been missing mom also!
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