Ines Martha (Busi) Bongio passed away peacefully on Nov. 30, 2017, after 92 fulfilling years. She was surrounded by family in her home, where she was the loving matriarch for 68 years. Family and faith were the immovable core of Ines’s being, and she enjoyed a quiet and profound devotion to both.
Ines was born in Templeton to Northern Italian immigrants Giovan (“Bob”) and Lucia Busi, and moved to Paso Robles in the late 1920s. Ines spoke only Italian and Spanish when she started school, but that didn’t stop her from excelling and even skipping a grade. When she was just ten years old, Ines was granted a provisional driver’s license so she could drive her mother anywhere in town. After graduating from Paso Robles High, she attended Heald’s Business College in Oakland and then worked at the Paso Robles Milling Company. She also played an integral role at her family’s business, Busi’s café, a popular hangout for locals and the traveling Hollywood crowd. There, she cooked and waited tables every weekend until the restaurant closed at the passing of her mother in 1968.
In 1949 Ines married the love of her life, Enrico Bongio, and moved to San Luis Obispo. The pair would live the rest of their lives in that house. Together, they raised three children, Vincent, Domenic, and Marie. Ines was involved in whatever the children were involved in, from sports to homework, hauling around team-mates or a flock of friends in the “banana,” the unmistakably yellow ’66 Dodge Coronet station wagon.
In later years, they treasured their seven grandchildren -- Ed, Nick, Jeremy, Crystal, Amber, Grace, and Andrew – and then their five great grandchildren. “Zia Ines” was also a loving aunt to her nieces and nephews -- Anna Lisa, Elsa, Domenic, Cathy, Denise, and Alan. She and her siblings, the late John Busi and Gloria (Busi) Durante, shared a life-long bond of love, support, and laughs. The deaths of John and Gloria were painful losses to Ines, who often played a maternal role to her younger siblings. When Enrico died in 2016, the depth of her love for him was only matched by the depth of the loss.
Ines was a tireless volunteer. For years she ironed the Old Mission’s altar cloths, polished the relics, and served as bookkeeper for the annual appeal. She was active in the Italian Catholic Federation and Cal Poly Women’s Club. Ines was always baking, crocheting, or delivering items to those less fortunate. She was a diehard supporter of Old Mission School, organizing numerous rummage sales, enchilada feeds, and other fundraisers.
Although a calm, reserved person, Ines exuded integrity and strength of character until her dying day. She was not afraid to speak her mind when she felt it necessary, yet she was not one to offer unsolicited advice. Ines was grateful for all she had and showered her friends and family with warmth, kindness, and a good meal. Although her passing brings her family great sadness, her words and actions endure as a testament to a life well-lived.
Special thanks to Steve and Kathy Clifton and caregivers Yvonne Hampton, Loni Mayfield, Liz Roldan, Lupe Kelsey, and Andy Christman. Special thanks also to Dr. Chris Voge for years of care and to hospice nurse Katie Mott for her expert, gentle guidance.
A vigil will be held at Wheeler-Smith Mortuary at 5 p.m. on Dec. 14 and a funeral Mass will be held at the Old Mission at 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 15. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School.