Eugene J. Cappellini of Cheektowaga, a decorated World War II veteran and longtime executive in the food industry, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 81.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Cappellini graduated from Hutchinson Central School and enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943.
As a tail gunner in a B-24 bomber, he completed 25 missions over Germany. On one mission, his plane was shot down over northern Yugoslavia.
Rescued by friendly forces, he was subsequently awarded the Air Medal, five Bronze Stars and the Distinguished Unit citation.
After the war, he returned to work at Cappellini's Restaurant, operated by his family on Niagara Street, and attended Chown's School of Business.
In 1955, Mr. Cappellini became a purchasing agent for Cease Commissary Service in Dunkirk. In 1964, he became food buyer for the University of Buffalo and in 1984, joined Vollmar Enterprises Food Brokerage as a vice president. He retired in 1986.
Mr. Cappellini was a member of the Knights of Columbus and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Christine Colucci; two sons, Ronald and Gene; and a brother, Rinaldo.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Church, 157 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga.