To Joseph Anthony Mascetta, a retired Mt. Lebanon High School principal, there were three things most important in life: faith, family and education -- in that order.
"He was always there for [us] and helped with our studies. We are all in different fields of education because of him," said his daughter, Lori Galley of Mt. Lebanon, an associate professor at Washington & Jefferson College.
Mr. Mascetta of Canonsburg also was an active member since childhood of St. Patrick Catholic Church, where he was one of the first lectors and a Eucharistic minister until his death Saturday. Mr. Mascetta, 82, died of kidney failure.
The son of Italian immigrants, Mr. Mascetta was a proud Italian-American and was a member of the Knights of Columbus in Canonsburg Council 3291 for more than 50 years and a number of other Italian American organizations, his family said. Through the Italian American Heritage Society, Mr. Mascetta founded the Italian American Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to students of Italian descent and was in charge of reviewing applications and awarding scholarships.
Mr. Mascetta was a 1950 graduate of Canonsburg High School and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating, he served in the Air Force during the Korean War as a jet pilot with the Pennsylvania National Guard. After his military service, Mr. Mascetta attended Harvard University, where he received his certificate of advanced studies and then the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a master's degree in science education.
Mr. Mascetta was a high school chemistry teacher at the former Canonsburg High School and in 1967 moved to Mt. Lebanon High School, where he became principal and served from 1981 to 1992. He also taught graduate and undergraduate courses at Duquesne University.
In 1983, he was given the Outstanding High School Award and the Secretary of Education Terrence Bell Award, both of which were presented by President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C.
"Even with his degrees, he always put others first," said his daughter Linda Trethewey, an assistant principal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "He loved baking, music, his grandkids and living life to the fullest."
When Mt. Lebanon superintendent Timothy Steinhauer came to the district in 2009, Mr. Mascetta was among a group of retired administrators who offered him advice and filled him in on the history of the district.
"He told me many stories about the good things that happened in Mt. Lebanon and he offered his support in anything that he could do," Mr. Steinhauer said. "He was well-respected and he was passionate about what he did here and was especially proud of what he did with the science department."
Mr. Mascetta also was an author who published 13 chemistry books for the Barron's Educational Series, the most recent of which was Barron's 2013 SAT Chemistry preparatory book.
In addition to his daughters, Mr. Mascetta is survived by his wife, Jean; another daughter, Lisa Snow of Fredericksburg, Va.; a sister, Rena Castelli of Houston, Pa.; and 11 grandchildren.
A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today in St. Patrick Church. Burial will be in St. Patrick Cemetery.
Nikki Pena: npena@post-gazette or 412-263-1280.