Michelangelo Sciulli, an Italian immigrant who moved to this country six decades ago with nothing and eventually built a successful company that won contracts to install water lines, sidewalks and steps throughout the city of Pittsburgh over a 25-year period, died Friday at UPMC Shadyside from a brain hemorrhage. He was 87.
As owner of Sciulli Brothers Construction Co., which he co-founded with his brother Adelmo, Mr. Sciulli was able to achieve the American dream while turning the small business into a big one.
Along the way, he also helped other Italians immigrate here to find a better way of life.
"He did everything necessary so that others with the same aspirations he had could experience the same opportunities he did," said his son, Antonio. "He was so grateful to be in this country, he would say 'God bless America' over every meal.
"He was a [dirt-poor] farmer in Italy. He was fortunate to be in this country and be able to realize the dreams he had. He touched a lot of people. He was a fun-loving, gregarious guy. Anyone he came in contact with remembered him."
Mr. Sciulli immigrated from Italy to Pittsburgh in 1952 with his wife, Clelia, and his daughter, Carmela. He dug ditches for Local 1058 and, after teaching himself to drive a backhoe, worked with Local 66 as an operating engineer. But he was willing to work any kind of side job he could find to support his family and get ahead.
He bought his first house in Oakland in 1958 and lived there his entire life, although he eventually bought other properties as investments.
In November 1967, Mr. Sciulli joined forces with his brother to form a contracting business that installed fire hydrants and water lines for the city of Pittsburgh, which they ran for about 25 years. He retired at age 62.
"He loved to dance," his son said. "He loved polka dances. On the weekends he would scurry the whole city to find out where polka bands were playing. He and my mother would polka dance on weekends. He did that up until his late 70s."
In the latter part of his life, Mr. Sciulli enjoyed walking twice a day in Oakland, greeting and socializing with University of Pittsburgh students and meeting at Pitt each day with 10 to 15 Italian friends who also had immigrated here. They enjoyed keeping up with each other's lives and discussing issues of the day.
Mr. Sciulli is survived by his wife of 63 years; a son, Antonio of Whitehall; two daughters, Carmela Corradetti of Bethel Park and Nancy DiNardo of Baldwin; and sisters Dora Vertolli of Toronto and Lina D'Andrea of Oakland.
Visitation will be held today from 3 to 8 p.m. at John N. Elachko Funeral Home, 3447 Dawson St., Oakland. Mass will be celebrated Wednesday at 9 a.m. in St. Regis Church. Entombment at Calvary Cemetery.
Tim Grant: email@example.com or 412-263-1591.