Every Chicago resident who enjoys pizza should be familiar with Rudy Malnati Jr.’s family name.
While working at Pizzeria Uno, his father, Rudy Malnati Sr., became a pizza expert. Pizzeria Uno is credited with inventing the city’s famous deep dish-style pies in 1943. His father is known as the “Pizza Godfather.”
It was his mother, Donna Marie, who was the master dough maker in the family and was responsible for all of their creations.
His half-brother, Lou, was the one who founded Lou Malnati’s.
Pizano’s was also established by Rudy Jr.
The pizza business ran in the family for generations, and Rudy Jr. took great pride in continuing the tradition started by his ancestors.
But if there was room for another passion, Rudy Jr.’s was the Chicago Air and Water Show, which he directed for the better part of the last 30 years.
Annette Malnati, who is his wife, stated on Saturday that “It was his baby.”
According to Malnati’s wife, he passed away on Christmas Eve in the home he shared with his wife and children in Lake Forest after a private five-year battle with gallbladder cancer. He was 65.
In 2017, Rudy Malnati Jr. was pictured alongside his son Rudy, daughter Holly, and wife Annette.
Annette shared that her father went to every Air and Water Show since the event’s inception in 1959. As a young boy, he was awestruck by the exhibition, and years later, he did errands for the man who directed it, before eventually taking over for him as the director of the exhibition under the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Malnati lowered the dosage of his chemotherapy drugs in light of the fact that this year’s show was most likely going to be his last in order to ensure that he would have sufficient energy to organize it. Never once did he take a break from his work, even in the final two years of his illness, when cancer had already advanced to the fourth stage.
In addition, Malnati was in charge of coordinating the air shows that took place in Milwaukee, Gary, Indiana, and Rockford. His reputation among the pilots was so high, and he was so closely associated with the happenings, that he was made an honorary member of both the Blue Angels of the Navy and the Thunderbirds of the Air Force.
She stated that the members of the two squadrons who worked together reached out to Annette one by one to offer their condolences. They were shocked by his passing because he had concealed the fact that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Annette shared his thoughts on the matter, saying, “He made the decision not to make it known because that wasn’t his focus.” “He didn’t have time for people to feel sorry for him or to throw a pity party for himself,” she said.
She continued by saying that his legacy would be the Chicago Air and Water Show. “He is the primary reason why that show is performed in Chicago. It’s great that he’s always been the one behind the scenes because it shows that he didn’t feel the need to be in the spotlight.
In September of 2021, the Malnati family gets together at their newest restaurant, which is called Amigos.
During his time working for the Chicago Park District, Malnati was a baseball encyclopedia and the overseer of a softball league. He also made many close friends within the umpires’ fraternity that officiated Major League Baseball games. When they were in town, Umps would stop by Pizano’s house, and they also flew in for his mother’s funeral in January of last year.
Annette remarked that it was incredible how many people he had become friends with over the course of his life, as well as the number of people whose lives he had changed. “People from all different industries are just reaching out and saying, ‘No, this can’t be,'” said the speaker.
Malnati was proud of his family’s deep dish history, but he also found gratification in his own thin-crust pie at Pizano’s. This was despite the fact that Malnati’s mother insisted that her celebration of life not feature “that damn thin-crust pizza,” which she helped create. Malnati found gratification in his own thin-crust pie at Pizano’s.
Even though he was frequently busy with long hours at work, he made it a point not to miss any of the important family events or performances that his children were involved in. Even in the past few years, when cancer was taking its toll on him, he still made it a point to participate in Zoom meetings.
Annette reminisced about her late husband by saying, “I’ve never had more fun with someone.” Because he is a true Chicagoan, Chicago will be deprived of the opportunity to work with him.
1974 was the year that Malnati’s father passed away. In addition to his half-brother Lou, his brother Robert also passed away before he did. Annette and their children Holly and Rudy are the ones who carry on his legacy.
Wednesday is the day that guests are invited to pay their respects at the Donnellan Family Funeral Home in Skokie. At Holy Name Cathedral the following day, there will be a funeral Mass for the deceased.