Obituary: Frank V. Petrone / He helped put Cranberry on the map and later became a township supervisor

July 22, 1923 - Sept. 19, 2013

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Before Cranberry was on the map, Frank V. Petrone was one of the forces behind the effort to get it there.

A former township supervisor and chairman of the Cranberry planning commission, Mr. Petrone led a 10-year effort to get Cranberry its own post office and designated ZIP code -- 16066 -- in 1993.

"That had a lot to do with our economic growth because it put us on the map," said Rich Inman, president of the Sunrise Rotary Club, a club Mr. Petrone helped found in 1994. "He saw the growth coming with [Interstate] 279 and the turnpike, and he laid a lot of the groundwork. If he hadn't done it properly, [it] would not have helped us realize our economic boom."

Called a visionary and a mentor by those who knew him, Mr. Petrone died Thursday at UPMC Passavant in McCandless. He was 90.

Mr. Petrone was born into a family of seven children in New Kensington. He served in the Army during World War II and was a brick salesman for various companies over the course of a long career. During an active retirement, he worked in the hardware department at the Home Depot in Cranberry for 13 years until last month, said his daughter, Valentina Patrone Avery, a teacher in Bolton, Mass.

Mr. Inman remembers Mr. Petrone as a "do-it-right-or-don't-do-it-at-all person. He was very meticulous. The one word you'll hear about him from a lot of people is 'mentor.' He was a community leader, mentor and friend. He would look at you with a smile that was warm and genuine like you were the only person in the universe."

Jack Cohen, president of the Butler County Tourism Bureau, owned a restaurant in Cranberry called Safari Sam's where the Rotary Club would meet on Friday mornings.

"I would go in at 5:30 to get breakfast going, and there would be Frank to make sure I was cooking things correctly, checking out the bacon, the muffins. He was very particular. There was only one way to do things. He was a really soft and gentle man, but he had a way of making sure you knew what he wanted, and you didn't mind doing it the way he wanted.

"He was really a visionary. I know from talking to other folks he was involved in getting Cranberry its first strategic planning process."

At home, Mr. Petrone was a gentleman farmer who maintained 5 acres amid a larger property that he had sold off over the years.

In condolences left on the Glenn-Kildoo Funeral Home's website, District Judge David Kovach credited Mr. Petrone with giving him his "first chance to become a Cranberry Township police officer in 1978."

Judge Kovach wrote, "I was 25 years old at the time. I would often take a ride out to Wolfe Run Road just to chat with Mr. Petrone. I either found him in the garden or taking care of his grapes ... and usually left with a tomato or two."

"When I was growing up, we had three gigantic gardens," recalled Ms. Avery, Mr. Petrone's only child. "He was an avid gardener. He loved to grow sweet corn and would give corn away to the neighbors. We had humongous pumpkins. I remember massive carved jack-o'-lanterns lining the road to our house.

"Some of my fondest memories are from when we went to Cape Hatteras [North Carolina] every year when I was a kid, walking on the beach with him, flying kites, riding our bikes, feeding the sea gulls."

Mr. Petrone was a charter member of the Cranberry Township Rotary Club, a founder of the Sunrise Rotary Club, a member of the Cranberry Township Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Post 494 in Zelienople. He was named the Cranberry Chamber of Commerce 2012 Citizen of the Year.

Mr. Petrone was a graduate of Washington and Jefferson College and had a master's degree from the University of Washington at Seattle. He was a chairman of the former Producers Council of Pittsburgh, an association of manufacturers and architects, and of the Pittsburgh Builders Exchange, a trade association of the commercial construction industry.

A Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today in St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, 2535 Rochester Road, Cranberry.

obituaries

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.


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