Obituary: Samuel Sciullo / Castle Shannon attorney, booster of Pitt athletics

Aug. 20, 1922 - Dec. 21, 2013

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Attorney Samuel Sciullo worked a seven-day work week for most of a career that spanned six decades.

Mr. Sciullo of Castle Shannon died Dec. 21 due to complications from pneumonia following a lengthy illness. He was 91.

The son of Italian immigrants, he was born and raised in Vandergrift, where his parents, the late Frank and Isabella Sciullo, owned a grocery store.

He was always proud of his perfect school attendance record -- he never missed a day from elementary through high school.

His undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh were interrupted by World War II. He served as a corporal in the Army and was present at several historic milestones: He arrived in Paris on Liberation Day in 1944, and in 1945, he was part of the first American unit to enter Berlin, where he found an autographed photograph of Adolf Hitler at the site of the German dictator's bunker. He donated it to the Allied Museum in Berlin.

Those weren't the only historic moments Mr. Sciullo witnessed. When he was 13, he saw Babe Ruth's final career home run at Forbes Field. He followed Ruth back to his hotel, begging for an autograph, but the baseball legend ignored him. "He didn't say one word to me," he told AP in a 2006 interview. "He looked so sad, he really did."

After the war, Mr. Sciullo went back to school and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He went into solo practice early in his career. He practiced family law when there were only a few attorneys taking those kinds of cases. But he was also a general practitioner who handled personal injury, criminal and real estate cases.

He was dedicated to law, working from the pre-dawn hours into the evenings, and he chose to not retire until he was in his 80s. "That's the way he lived. He really loved practicing law," his daughter, Lisa Sciullo Goodyear of Mt. Lebanon said.

Attorney Leo Hajdukiewicz was Mr. Sciullo's law partner for 33 years. "In the practice of law, he had tremendous courage. He was not afraid of anything. His success in criminal and family law was superb."

Back on those days, lawyers weren't allowed to advertise their services, Mr. Hajdukiewicz said. "But his practice grew, primarily because of the success that he had. It was simply word of mouth."

Mr. Sciullo was also an active and loyal supporter of sports at his alma mater. In the late '60s, in what his son, Samuel Sciullo Jr. of Castle Shannon, described as one of the "bleakest periods" in Pitt sports, he helped with recruiting at a time when it wasn't fashionable to support Pitt athletics.

"Our house was like a hotel-restaurant," his son recalled. "We were always hosting recruits and their families for meals and holidays."

He was one of the founders of the Golden Panthers, the booster organization of the Pitt Athletic department now known as the Panther Club.

Former NFL defensive end Sam Clancy, who played for Seattle, Indianapolis and Cleveland, started his career as a basketball player at Pitt, where he met Mr. Sciullo. "Not only was he an alumni, he was a friend to me and other athletes and students," Mr. Clancy said. "He did a lot of pro bono work for students at the university. He was a remarkable man.

"Besides being a great friend, he is mainly responsible for me getting into the NFL."

Mr. Sciullo talked him into meeting with former Pitt football coach Jackie Sherrill. "I hadn't played football since high school. Mr. Sciullo was the guy who kind of convinced me." Mr. Clancy was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1982. "It was Jackie who made the call to Seattle. It was Mr. Sciullo who initiated all that," he said.

Beyond the legal and sports arenas, Mr. Sciullo was devoted to his children and grandchildren, and his German shepherds.

In addition to his daughter and son, he is survived by his wife, Ryta Pluciennik Sciullo, daughters Gina Sciullo Siudyla of Castle Shannon, Maria Sciullo Kaufman of Castle Shannon, a brother, Eugene Sciullo of Mercer, and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be today from 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. at Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 1008 Castle Shannon Blvd., Castle Shannon. Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. Tuesday in St. Anne Church, Castle Shannon.

Memorial donations can be made to the donor's charity of choice.

Adrian McCoy: amccoy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.


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