Obituary: Raymond Naccarati / Police chief was passionate about sharing his skills
May 25, 1935 - Nov. 7, 2012
November 10, 2012 5:00 AM
By Paula Reed Ward Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Raymond Naccarati spent more than 40 years in law enforcement, patrolling, leading and teaching.
Even as he lay in his hospital bed three weeks ago, the former Wilkins police chief graded mid-terms for his students at Community College of Allegheny County.
Jim Lauria, Oakdale police chief and an instructor at the Suburban Academy of Law Enforcement, a Monroeville school which Mr. Naccarati founded, said both he and his friend became police officers to make a difference and help people.
"It was more than just a job for us," he said. "It was a lifestyle. It's how you lived."
Mr. Naccarati, of Plum, died Wednesday of heart disease at Forbes Regional Hospital after a short stay. He was 77.
His daughter, Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, said her father was devoted to his community and family.
"He was generous, compassionate and giving in everything that he did," she said.
Mr. Naccarati became a police officer in Wilkins in 1968 and became chief in 1985. He served in that capacity until 1993, when he retired to run to fill a seat as a magisterial court judge.
He lost that race, and another four years later in the Democratic primary for Allegheny County sheriff.
"Even though he lost, he didn't regret it," Ms. Naccarati-Chapkis said. "The thing he liked most about campaigning was going door to door and talking to people."
Mr. Naccarati founded the academy in 1982 and continued to serve as an instructor there in criminal investigation and evidence technology until his death.
"There were so many different aspects to him people may have not known outside of his law enforcement career," Ms. Naccarati-Chapkin said.
Her father enjoyed the opera and sculpting, as well as the outdoors. He also spent time gardening.
Mr. Naccarati was known for making Italian feasts for family dinners each Sunday. Among his best dishes were sausage sandwiches, and making home-made meatballs with his grandchildren, who picked tomatoes and garlic straight from the garden.
Mr. Naccarati encouraged his wife of 45 years, Lillian, to return to school, and she earned her doctorate in 2004, later becoming the superintendent in the Plum school district.
"He was so committed to her and her success," his daughter said.
He had used a wheelchair for eight years, but his family said he continued to keep up his brisk pace. Mr. Naccarati cared for his grandchildren after school each day, preparing snacks and organizing their evening activities.
The family is close: Mr. Naccarati's three daughters live within walking distance of their parents' home, and his son lives in nearby Wilkins.
"If he could have, he'd have us all living under the same roof," Ms. Naccarati-Chapkis said.
Her family referred to her father as their "own St. Francis" because of the man's great love of animals. He referred to his two cats, Bo and Scooter, as his "associates," and they comforted him when he was ill.
Throughout his career, the man focused on the culture of policing, said Mr. Lauria, the Oakdale police chief.
"He was very concerned about rightness," he said. "He was always focused on doing the right thing as policemen."
Mr. Naccarati sat on a number of boards of directors and wanted to ensure that the students at the academy reflected well on the program.
Former Monroeville police chief George Polnar served on advisory boards with Mr. Naccarati at Point Park University and Community College of Allegheny County.
Mr. Polnar saw Mr. Naccarati as a friend and mentor. Over the years, Mr. Polnar said the man advised him on a number of issues, including personnel matters.
"He always told me don't take it personally," Mr. Polnar said. "That had a lot of validity for me."
Mr. Lauria described his friend as very open and extroverted.
"If he had something to say, there was no problem knowing exactly where Ray stood on an issue," he said.
In addition to his wife and daughter Michelle, Mr. Naccarati is survived by daughters Angela Hunter and Elise Naccarati, both of Plum; son Vincent of Wilkins; six grandchildren; a brother, Carl Naccarati of Penn Hills; and a sister, Letitia Valletta of West Deer.
Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. today and 1-4 and 6-9 p.m. Sunday at the Jobe Funeral Home & Crematory Inc. in Turtle Creek. Mass of Christian Burial will be at noon Monday at St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville, with interment to follow at Good Shepherd Cemetery in Monroeville.
The family asks that donations be made to any charity.