Obituary: August J. Carlino / Longest-acting ward chairman in Pittsburgh's history

April 17, 1929 - April 21, 2013

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For years, August "Auggie" J. Carlino's family tried to persuade him to resign from politics, step down from his position as Democratic ward chair and relax in his retirement.

But for Mr. Carlino, who had served as the 8th Ward Democratic chairman since 1973 and was the longest-acting ward chairman in Pittsburgh's history, there was always just one more election to work before he could quit. Even in the days just before his death, he was still talking politics, worrying about preparations for the city's May 21 primary: I have to get yard signs out, he told family members, and who's going to work the polls?

"There was always somebody coming up in the next election and he would say, 'First we've got to get them elected, or re-elected,' " said his son, August R. Carlino of Observatory Hill.

"I think it kept him focused and gave him something to do -- politics boils your blood in good ways and bad, and it probably kept him living all these years."

The elder Mr. Carlino died Sunday of gastroesophageal cancer. He was 84.

The son of Joseph and Anna Carlino, Auggie Carlino was born in Bloomfield into a family of stone-cutters on April 17, 1929. He began trying to enlist in the U.S. Army after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, when he was 12.

"Whenever he thought he looked a little older -- probably a week later -- he went back to the recruitment office and tried to enlist again," until finally the recruitment officers knew him well enough to immediately kick him out of line, the younger Mr. Carlino said.

After graduating from Schenley High School in 1947, Mr. Carlino immediately enlisted in the Army, where he served during the Korean War on a ski patrol team in Alaska until 1950, his son said.

Returning to Pittsburgh after the war, Mr. Carlino rejoined the family stone-cutting business, helping install marble floors and walls in office buildings such as the Gulf Building and the Koppers Building, Downtown, and helping build churches such as Immaculate Conception in Bloomfield.

In 1960, after he had met and married his wife, Amelia, and they had started a family, Mr. Carlino's mother-in-law encouraged him to get involved in local politics, in part to help find steadier employment than layoff-prone seasonal construction work.

Mr. Carlino began helping his mother-in-law, a ward chairwoman on the South Side, with campaigns and also landed a job as Allegheny County's construction engineering manager for heavy construction such as roads and bridges. He kept that job until he retired in 1995.

Along the way, he developed a reputation among both Republicans and Democrats as a personable man of his word, and developed friends of every stripe as a result. "He was one of the old breed of guys that when he said something to you, he meant it, and he never went back on it," said his son.

Mr. Carlino is survived by his wife, his son and a daughter, Angela P. Vrabel of Beechview; and two brothers, John and Samuel Carlino, both of Bloomfield.

Friends will be received today at the Winter Funeral Home from 2 to 9 p.m. A prayer service will be held at the funeral home at 9 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a Mass of Christian burial at the Friendship campus of St. Maria Goretti Parish at 10 a.m. Burial with military honors will follow at Allegheny Cemetery.

obituaries

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: 412-263-1719 or aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com.


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