Obituary: Frank R. Capo / WWII Navy veteran, talented bricklayer

Oct. 30, 1921 - Feb. 9, 2013

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Like his perfect brickwork, the lines of Frank R. Capo's life ran true.

A first-generation American who was the son of Italian immigrants from outside Naples, Mr. Capo quit high school to help support his parents and five brothers and sisters. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served with distinction during the largest naval battle of World War II. He came home, found a trade, started a business, married a good woman he had known since grade school, and raised two sons to value hard work and honesty.

"He was a man's man," said his son Joseph Capo, a civil engineer in Columbus, Ohio. "He stood up for what he thought was right, and I never saw him do anything wrong."

Mr. Capo died Saturday. He was 91.

Born Oct. 30, 1921, Mr. Capo was the son of the late Joseph and Guilette (Mastrogiovanni) Capo. He was born in Wilmerding, a community in which many Italian immigrants were resettling at the time, and played football for Turtle Creek High School through 10th grade.

After his sophomore year, Mr. Capo left school to help support his family during the Great Depression as a carpenter at one of the first Civil Conservation Corps camps, Camp Roosevelt in Virginia.

"He used to send money home to his mother," said his son Robert Capo, also a civil engineer, of Moon. "Of the $25 or $30 he made, he got to keep $5, so I think that started a lot of his work ethic."

Mr. Capo returned to Wilmerding to work as a carpenter and at Westinghouse Air Brake, then enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard under the command of the Navy in August 1942. During the war, he worked as a ship's cook and helped supply gunners with 20 mm shells aboard the USS Hutchinson, a submarine chaser that fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf during the liberation of the Philippines. As a result, Mr. Capo earned the American Area World War II Victory Medals and the Asiatic-Pacific Area Camp Medal with two Bronze Stars and the Philippine Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star. He was honorably discharge in February 1946.

After working at Westinghouse again after returning home, Mr. Capo helped an older brother with a construction job and began to learn masonry. When it came to masonry, Mr. Capo was a perfectionist who did some beautiful brickwork over the years, including the home he built for himself in Penn Township, Westmoreland County, in 1953 and the homes he built for each of his sons many years later, his sons said.

"You have to have a good eye for it and he just had talented hands to be able to lay the brick very true and level and plumb," Robert Capo said. "He was really a craftsman."

Mr. Capo is survived by his two sons. Visitation will be held at the Alfieri Funeral Home in Wilmerding today from 6 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m. Mass will be celebrated in St. Regis Catholic Church at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Interment with military honors will follow in Good Shepherd Cemetery.

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Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: or 412-263-1719.


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