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Horatio F. Rossi was a man with many nicknames, many hobbies and many friends.
“Everybody has a story about Horatio,” said his youngest daughter, Michelle Caesar, 45, of Greensburg. “My dad left a lasting impression on everyone he met, even if it was just one time.”
To his co-workers, he was Frank. To his wife of 59 years, Dolores, he was Duddy. To his nieces and nephews, he was Uncle Duddy. To childhood friends with whom he played baseball, he was Sluggo.
Although Orazio was his given name, Horatio was what most people called him.
“When he went to school, the teacher couldn't pronounce his name, so the teacher changed it to Horatio,” said his oldest daughter, Marianne Rossi-Brown of Greensburg.
Orazio Frank Rossi of Greensburg died Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in St. Anne Home, Greensburg, of complications from pneumonia. He was 85.
Mr. Rossi was born Oct. 3, 1931, in Greensburg to Frank and Maria (Natarelli) Rossi. He enlisted in the Army after graduating from Greensburg Salem High School, serving in Korea in the 224th Infantry Regiment. He saw combat action in the Punchbowl, Satae-Ri Kumhwa Chorwon Valley, Korea.
“He fought on the front lines,” Rossi-Brown said. “He was very proud of serving his country.”
“He loved the people. He was a very social person. His work ethic got passed on to his five children,” Rossi-Brown said.
Caesar said her father was not a pushy salesman. He just engaged people in conversation, and many of them remembered buying their first washer and dryer from him, she said. Co-workers talked about how he made them feel comfortable when they first started working at Sears, she said.
Mr. Rossi was an avid pool player and once won third place as part of a Christopher Columbus Club team competing in an American Poolplayers Association tournament in Las Vegas, Rossi-Brown said.
“He would run the table,” Caesar said. “He made lots of friends doing that.”
He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing.
Mr. Rossi was not averse to talking to strangers, and he often struck up a conversation with women by asking them, “Is your name Lucy?” — a reference to his favorite comedian, Lucille Ball. Caesar said if the person answered no or looked puzzled, he would say, “Well, it is now.”
In his final years, as his vision failed, Mr. Rossi had to give up pool but continued his daily ritual of going to the Roosevelt Club, where he enjoyed two beers while visiting with friends. His children and wife divided the duties of taking him there for an hour each evening.
“He was just happy to get out and see people. Everyone knew my father,” Rossi-Brown said.
Mr. Rossi referred to beer as “Vitamin B” and liked the Billy Currington song “People Are Crazy,” especially the lyrics “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy,” Caesar said.
The daughters remember Mr. Rossi as a doting, attentive father and grandfather. “He was always there for his children,” Rossi-Brown said. “He'd say prayers with us. He'd sing us lullabies. He'd read to us.”
Mr. Rossi is survived by his wife, Dolores M. (Stepnick) Rossi; his son, Daniel N. Rossi of Buena Vista; four daughters, Marianne Rossi-Brown, Carol Mash, Lynda Rossi and Michelle Caesar, all of Greensburg; and eight grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Leo M. Bacha Funeral Home, 516 Stanton St., Greensburg. Prayers will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Paul Parish, Greensburg. Entombment will follow in Greensburg Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum, with full military honors accorded by the American Legion Post 981 Honor Guard.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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