When Louis Mammone turned 98 in 2011, his daughter-in-law found herself slightly at a loss about finding him the perfect birthday present.
So Jean Mammone called his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, to see if they might have suggestions, "and when they heard he had played in the marching band, they told her to bring him to the big centennial reunion they were planning at Heinz Field," his grandson Michael Mammone said.
Lou Mammone, formerly of Beaver Falls, was unable to make it, but he got his moment of recognition as Pitt's oldest living marching band member on Oct. 14, 2011, on the stadium's Jumbotron, which showed a picture of him in his Pompano Beach, Fla., home, holding his soprano saxophone.
Mr. Mammone died Dec. 28 of heart failure in Pompano Beach, Fla. He was 99.
Born and raised in Italy, Mr. Mammone found life in this country a bit challenging as a newly arrived, 12-year-old immigrant in Beaver Falls who spoke no English.
His father, Angelo, and uncles soon prospered, opening up small grocery stores on the community's Seventh Avenue and teaching the younger Lou Mammone how to work and study hard. While he was originally put in the first grade due to his shaky English, he caught on quickly and ended up graduating from Pitt as a business studies major in 1938.
After World War II, where he was deployed to the Philippines and later Japan, he married his college sweetheart Gilda Capuzzi, and they went on to have two children. After the war, he found success in the food business running The Pittsburgh Cheese Terminal in the Strip District, which he founded in 1964 and sold in 1998. While he helped cheese makers in Wisconsin, for example, find stores in Pittsburgh to sell their products, "The average person could also walk in and order a five-pound loaf of mozzarella, cheddar, any kind of cheese they liked," Michael Mammone said.
A long time member of the Churchill Country Club, Lou Mammone was a dedicated golfer who could claim three holes-in-one.
All in all, not bad for a young Italian boy who, at age 12, finally met his father, who had returned from the U.S. -- where he had gone shortly before his son's birth looking for work -- to take his family to his newly adopted country to pursue the American dream.
Lou Mammone appears to have succeeded in that quest, perhaps no more so than when he was honored by his college marching band, which, in marking a century in existence, was only two years older than he was.
Besides his grandson Michael of Beaver Falls, Mr. Mammone is survived by his son, Louis of Champion, Fayette County; a daughter, Margherita Lockwood of Hazelton; a brother, Alfred, and a sister, Mary McCallister, both of Beaver Falls; and numerous other grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Friends may call from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Gene H. Corl Funeral Chapel and Cremation Center of Monroeville, 4335 Northern Pike There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at St. John Fisher Church at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Mackenzie Carpenter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1949.