Obituary: Richard M. Cosentino / Former director of city water, sewer authority

April 8, 1929 - April 19, 2014

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For years, Richard Cosentino embraced a job at which others might have turned up their noses -- as director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority -- making the most of one of the city's more low-profile but important roles.

"My dad was a born engineer," said Domenick Cosentino, of Brooklyn, N.Y. "My mom would tease him by calling him the director of faucets and flushes. He was really fascinated by the city's water system and how it worked."

Mr. Cosentino, the former executive director of the Pittsburgh Water Department and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, died Saturday at his Squirrel Hill home from a combination of cancer and renal failure. He was 85.

A lifelong resident of Squirrel Hill, Mr. Cosentino graduated Taylor Allderdice High School in 1947 and earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1951. After graduation, he served as a civil engineer in the Korean War, rising to the rank of first lieutenant.

After the war, he worked as a landscape architect with his father. Years later -- around the late 1960s to early 1970s -- he joined the city's planning commission, where he created the original design for Davis Park on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill when it was all metal and concrete.

"I know he was really proud of the fact that he designed it," his son Domenick said. "I played basketball in that park as a young man, and he often reminded me that he designed it."

Mr. Cosentino served as director of the city's water department from 1971 to 1984. When the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was formed in 1984, he served as its director until he retired from city work in 1991.

"Unless something went wrong, like a water main break or something, he didn't get a lot of attention," his son said. "But he really liked how these things functioned."

A lifelong fan of the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and Pitt, Mr. Cosentino spent his retirement years following his favorite teams and played softball in an organized senior league well into his 70s.

He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Doreen; a daughter, Caterina Natalia of Penn Hills; two other sons, Richard S. Cosentino of Shaler and Michael Cosentino of Regent Square; and a sister, Louise Carter of Forest Hills.

A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today in St. Paul Cathedral, Oakland. John A. Freyvogel Sons handled arrangements.

Remembrances may be made to St. Paul Cathedral, 108 N. Dithridge St., Pittsburgh 15213 or the American Cancer Society.


Tim Grant: tgrant@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1591.


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