Die erste By-Line

James C. Mastandrea
Magazine lithographer
For James C. Mastandrea, work wasn't just about paychecks; `He was a crafter and he loved this job,' his wife said
By Christian Thiele
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 11, 2005
With a father in the printing business, it was only natural that James C. Mastandrea would discover his own passion for the craft.After serving in the military and attending a few semesters of college, he began to learn lithography in an apprenticeship at the Collins, Miller & Hutchings printing company in Chicago. The company was in trouble and finally went out of business, but Mr. Mastandrea had already found a better job and moved on to Regensteiner Printing Co. in Chicago, where he stayed until his retirement in 1987 at 60. Handling pictures for Time and Newsweek magazines, he made sure the photos were crisp and in the authentic colors.
Work, however, was more than about paychecks: "He was a crafter and he loved this job. He worked many hours of overtime. He had really found his niche," said his wife, Patricia.Mr. Mastandrea, 78, died of complications from a spinal cord abscess Monday, Aug. 8, in his home in Coloma, Mich.
Born and raised in Chicago, he graduated from Austin High School and enlisted in the Army Air Forces. After serving in Alabama and Colorado, he enrolled at the University of Michigan and DePaul University under the GI Bill. He studied a bit of accounting, "but he wasn't really interested in that," his wife said.
She met him at work, at Corn Products in Chicago, where Mr. Mastandrea would deliver mail around the building. At the company's Christmas party in 1950, he asked her for a dance, and she fell for him. In June 1951, they married.
After their two daughters were born, the Mastandreas moved into their first house in 1956, close to Midway Airport. They stayed there for 14 years and then moved to Bolingbrook. Summer vacations were spent at Paw Paw Lake in Coloma."We always said that when we retire, we'll go there--and finally, the dream became true," said his wife. In 1988, they moved to Coloma. After his twin brother, Robert, died in 1987, Mr. Mastandrea decided to retire early. "He wanted to take profit from his life," she said.
Softball, baseball, water skiing--Mr. Mastandrea was a man of activity. And he shared it with his children, teaching them to throw a ball and water ski.Mr. Mastandrea also was passionate about hunting. Although he hadn't fired a shot in nine years, he joined his friends each fall."He would always come out with the boys, just for the camaraderie," said Phillip Koser, a decades-old friend from work. With 12 friends from the printing business and from high school, they had formed a hunting club.
Family and friends remember Mr. Mastandrea as a feisty fellow: "He was a lively guy," said Koser. But also reliable: "When he gave you his word, he kept it," his wife said.
Other survivors include a sister, Phyllis Trojan; a son, Jim; two daughters, Janet Farley and Karen Zdenahlik; eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Starks & Menchinger Family Funeral Home, 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph, Mich. Mass will be said at 10.30 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 211 Church St. in St. Joseph.
Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune


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