Memorial for Michael Buonaiuto
Service information has not yet been posted.
Michael Benjamin Buonaiuto, 1/7/1947 – 6/29/2020
Michael was born to Helen Sweet and Robert Buonaiuto in Greenfield, Mass. His maternal grandparents were French Canadian, and played French Canadian music at home. His Dad’s side were Italian, and loved to camp, fish, and cook. He was always artistic, drawing and painting. In college he made large concrete sculptures, and sculptures of light. He met Shelley Tincher at UMass Amherst in 1967. They moved to California, joined a Gurdjieff group, following a spiritual path, and then moved to NY to be at Chardavogne Barn to study with the teacher, Willem Nyland. There, Michael converted an old onion barn into a beautiful home. After stints as a toy maker and stonemason at the Barn, he and Shelley started the pottery business, which developed into a life-long artistic collaboration, working in clay and bronze. In 1983. they spent an enlightening seven months traveling through South America with their first two kids and moved to Santa Fe in 1984, where they had another child, and started cookie jar and resin sculpture businesses.
Michael was always deeply attuned to the environment, noticing every little creature, and beauty everywhere, in rocks, the sky, water and light. He loved reading about ancient cultures. He thought often of our place in the universe, searching for understanding of the source of our material and psychic reality. He worked on himself to become a better, more compassionate person and cared deeply about social justice. He was an amazing father and loved his family with his whole being. His spiritual home was in nature and with the Fayetteville Friends Meeting.
His last challenge was Alzheimer’s, a diagnosis he met with acceptance and dignity. He struggled to maintain his ability to work and his last art pieces were small figures playing together. He made hundreds, many of which were sold for donations to the Alzheimer’s foundation. He was diagnosed with Covid 19 about 3 weeks ago, which put him into a coma from which he never woke. As a final act of bad-ass Italian swagger, he beat the coronavirus while in the coma, and he died peacefully in his sleep.
Michael leaves a loving and grieving family: Shelley, his wife and partner in all things, of 49 years. Ben, his wife Sage Billig, and their son Ari in Fayetteville; Nina, her partner Chuck Maxwell and her daughters Sadie and Malia, in Fayetteville; and Mia and her husband Dan McIntyre, in Philadelphia; his sister Nancy Emond and husband Brian, in Leverett, Mass and brother Alan and his wife, Brenda, in Maine, as well as nephews and nieces.
We would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the Waters of Rogers staff for their loving care of Michael for four years and also to Circle of Life Hospice. Their giving hearts are much appreciated. Thanks also to Miles Davis and other great musicians, who provided Michael with much pleasure during his last years. He danced until his last month.
The family will plan a memorial on Zoom, which will be announced to friends and family.