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Sam Guarino, founder of Bella Milano restaurants, dies

Sam Guarino, 67, founder and partner in Bella Milano restaurants and a longtime civic leader in Edwardsville, died Wednesday.

“Last night the most amazing man we know, Sam Guarino, passed away surrounded by his loving family. He was truly one of a kind and will be forever missed by his family and friends. We appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers but would also ask for privacy at this time as we deal with this immeasurable loss,” the family said in a post on Facebook Thursday.

Mostly recently, Guarino served as chairman of the board of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce.

Here is the obituary as published by Pitchford Funeral Home in Wood River.

Samuel R. “Sammy G.” Guarino, 67, passed away at 8:12 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at Barnes – Jewish Hospital surrounded by his family. He was born on Jan. 4, 1953, in Alton, the son of the late Russell and Sarah (Culella) Guarino. He married the former Debra Wallendorff on March 1, 1980, in Rosewood Heights, and she survives. Other survivors include his mom: Dorris Guarino of Wood River, a daughter and son in law: Sara and Blake Salger of Columbia, Ill., two sons and daughter-in-law: Tom and Sade Guarino of Glen Carbon, Daniel and Samantha Guarino of Glen Carbon, five grandchildren: Sophia Grace, William Samuel, Evelyn Marie, Russell Thomas, Chloe Ann, a brother and sister in law: John and Amy Guarino of Rosewood Heights, a brother-in-law and sister-in-law: Larry and Darla Becker of Rosewood Heights, one niece: Hannah Robinson, three nephews: Owen Robinson, Cody Becker, Brandon Becker, and his best friend and dog: Baxter.

Sam worked and retired from Disney and Nike where he worked in sales and marketing. He owned and operated the Bella Milano Restaurants and Wood River Dairy Queen. Sam formerly worked as a rep for many different sports lines. He was formerly on the East Alton Ice Arena board and was the current Chairman of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. He formerly served on the board for the United Way and the RiverBend Growth Association. Sam was very active in the River Bend area and was very community oriented.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, private family services will be held. Sam will be buried at Rose Lawn Memory Gardens in Bethalto.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Partners for Pets and will be received at the funeral home or online at

A public celebration of Sam’s life will be held at a later date.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Samuel R. “Sammy G.” Guarino visit the Tribute Store here.




  1. Len and Arlene Scaturro on March 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Sorry for your loss. What a great friend. He will be missed. Enjoyed working with him on the Chamber Board. Thoughts and prayers for your family.
    Len Scaturro

  2. James Booth and Maria Booth on November 10, 2020 at 10:25 am

    I just found out about Sammy .He will be missed by me I just wish I could have spent One more day with him. I felt like I let him down he was a young man. My prayers goes out to the family especially His wife and mom. I know they did their best for him.

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