Paul A. Rossi, Sr.December 9, 1924 ~ December 20, 2017 (age 93)
Paul A. Rossi, Sr., a devoted family man, music man, and serviceman, died on Wednesday in Connecticut surrounded by family. He was 93.
Paul is remembered fondly for his life of devotion and service.
Paul’s resume reads like many of ‘The Greatest Generation’ with a litany of accomplishments and accolades, but Paul counted his greatest accomplishment as his family.
He would often say, “the best decision I ever made was to marry my wife.” Paul married the love of his life and best friend, Gloria DeBlasio in 1950. They made a home in Boardman where they raised their six children. Paul would love to tell the joke, “we had a child in 1951, 52, 53, 55, 56 and in 1957 we got a TV.” Over the years Paul’s family grew to include his sons-in-law, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Paul was known as “Papa” and, even up until his death, could be relied upon to give great advice, make sure you remembered to drive the speed limit, laugh at your jokes, play sports with you, and ensure you had cake and ice cream on your birthday - to say he will be missed is an understatement.
Paul, a life-long resident of Ohio, was born in Girard to parents Anthony and Julia Rossi on December 8, 1924. Paul grew up in a cheerful home with his parents and younger brother, John. From an early age music played a significant role in Paul’s life. Paul’s father was a dance band leader, and ran Schwartz and Rossi, a downtown Youngstown tailor shop. Some credit Paul’s love of music to his father, but it was really Paul’s mother who encouraged his music. Paul was quoted as saying, “Growing up in Girard when I was 10 years old, we had a piano, so my mother said, ‘I’m going to give you piano lessons.’ I said ‘piano lessons? What’s that?’.” Paul would play the piano for another 80 years.
Paul attended Girard High School where he excelled at academics, music, basketball, and track and field. At the time, Paul did not advertise his music ability. Paul always remembered this story fondly - one time, when Paul was a Sr. in high school, his basketball game and his piano recital were in direct conflict. Paul’s mother made him attend the recital saying, “music will pay the bills, basketball won’t”. Paul would chuckle when he told that story, he said when he told the coach he would miss the game that night for a recital, the coach said, “well, that’s a first”, Paul would quickly follow-up and say, “coach, please don’t tell the guys on the team.”
Immediately after a December Girard High School graduation, Paul enlisted in the United States Army. Paul honorably served in the war from 1943 to 1945 and was involved in the 2nd Infantry Division’s D-Day invasion in Normandy France, and spent the next year fighting through France, and the Battle of the Bulge, as well as establishing telephone communications behind enemy lines. For his service, Paul received the Bronze Star for Meritorious in Ground Combat, The Legion of Honor from France, a Certificate of Merit, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
After the war, Paul returned to civilian life, using the GI Bill to earn his BA in music from Westminster College where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. Paul finalized his formal education with a Masters of Music from Kent State University.
The quieter post-war life, allowed Paul to focus on his family. Paul’s mother was right, “piano would always pay the bills.” Paul provided for his growing family by teaching music and conducting. Paul spent 32 years as the band director at Canfield High School, all the while directing other bands and his own band. He conducted the Youngstown Symphonic Band for over 51 years, the Warren Concert Band, and the Youngstown Plazateers band. Paul also was Vice President of the local Musicians Union 86-242. Paul was an accomplished pianist, private piano teacher, and accompanist. Paul also taught at Youngstown State University as a Part-Time Professor in Music Education. He touched many young lives through music and was instrumental in many students pursuing music into their college years and beyond.
In addition to being the band director at Canfield Public Schools, Paul led the American Legion Band which was comprised of students from his band program along with his own children. They performed in parades all summer long. Paul was the accompanist for many area musicals and is credited with initiating “Concerts on the Green.” Starting in 1955, Paul presented concerts in Canfield each summer for almost 60 summers, finally retiring from conducting at the age of 89. Paul’s music and community contributions were honored in June 2004, where June 14th that year was proclaimed “Paul Rossi Day.” Paul’s passion was music, and he shared this love with all who knew him.
In 1983, Paul retired from his teaching position and served as the Education Coordinator of The American Cancer Society until 1998. During this time, he served as the President of the Mahoning County Retired Teachers Association.
Paul’s boundless energy allowed him to continue his life-long service to his community by giving back to Youngstown on many fronts. He was an usher at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman, he volunteered for the Salvation Army each Christmas, and as member of Kiwanis, he coordinated the Annual Rose Sale and was also their piano accompanist. In 2014, Paul was recognized by Boardman Civic Association as “Citizen of the Year."
Paul never made a fuss about accolades or his accomplishments, he was happiest with his family and at his piano with his head and shoulders silhouetted against a backdrop of bar lines and chords. He leaves behind a rich legacy of love, kindness, service, and family.
He is survived by his wife, Gloria (DeBlasio) of sixty-seven years, along with his loving children: Alexa (Rick), Cindy (Paul), Paul, Gloria, Louise (Fred), and Julia (Brian). With grandchildren: MaryJo (Matt), Rich (Christine), Alexis (Jim), Jesse (Nicole), Ross, Maggie, McKenzie, and Bryce, and great-grandchildren: Finn, Evelyn, and Teagan.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother John and son-in-law William B. Slocum.
Family and friends will be received on Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at the Davis-Becker Funeral Home, 8536 Market St., Boardman.
A prayer service will be held on Friday at 9:15 a.m. at the funeral home followed by a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday at 10 a.m. at Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman. Entombment will follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Please visit www.beckerobits.com to send condolences.