Obituary: Sarafina "Joe" Caliguire / Self-made man kept humor alive
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Funeral services often reflect the personality of the individual they commemorate, from light-hearted to traditional.
Sarafina "Joe" Caliguire, who died Tuesday at age 77 in his Ingram home, will be buried in his grandson's Georgetown University sweatshirt and his Sarafino restaurant cap, along with sentimental trinkets.
"We're keeping his sense of humor in the burial," said his son, Anthony Caliguire. "It's something you've never seen before."
Instead of the traditional flowers, there will be an indoor water fountain resembling a waterfall, a horse-drawn carriage and bagpipes playing ceremonial music since Mr. Caliguire loved the outdoors.
"He lived a great life and a great death," his son said.
Though Mr. Caliguire lost his 10-year battle with pancreatic cancer, he maintained his lifelong hobbies until the end.
Just two weeks ago, Mr. Caliguire got permission to drive onto the Montour High School football field to watch his grandson practice. He also went to watch his friend's boxing match.
Mr. Caliguire -- nicknamed "Puffy" -- continued to smoke heavily until his final days, enjoying that no one complained, his son said.
"We called it his farewell tour," he joked.
Mr. Caliguire was born in Pittsburgh's West End. At 15, he left home because of family issues and started his own life.
A self-made man, Mr. Caliguire skipped formal schooling and went into the carpentry trade after a local carpenter took him under his wing. He rose through the ranks, becoming self-employed and eventually joined the Carpenters Union Local 142.
"He did extremely well for himself," the younger Mr. Caliguire said.
After retiring from the union when he was diagnosed with cancer, Mr. Caliguire joined the family restaurant, Sarafino's, in Crafton.
Another son, Joe, opened the restaurant in late 2001 and enlisted his father's help in greeting customers, cleaning silverware and filling drink orders.
Servers at the restaurant said they saw Mr. Caliguire as a father figure, and fondly remembered his jokes, stories and eccentricities.
Kim DiCicco, who knew Mr. Caliguire for 20 years and worked at the restaurant for 7 months, recalled how his stories made the customers feel welcome and how he would manage to affectionately yell out orders to the staff.
When he was 19, Mr. Caliguire met his future wife Barbara, who was 15 at the time. They quickly became teenage sweethearts and stayed together, marrying a few years later. Besides idolizing his wife and family, his son said, Mr. Caliguire loved sports.
Mr. Caliguire said he was a fixture at every game and practice for Montour High School.
He also coached C.I.T. baseball -- a league among Crafton, Ingram and Thornburg -- for six years and the 13-year-old division of Crafton's Little Cougars football league for four years.
"A lot of people credit him for keeping them on the straight and narrow," his son said. "People saw him as a father figure."
Bill Hutchison, the Little Cougars' coaches representative, worked with Mr. Caliguire for three years. He recalled how Mr. Caliguire was the stereotypical "tough love" coach.
"He loved the kids, but kept them in line," he said. "It made the kids better at football and more disciplined off the field. ... He made better men of out them."
Mr. Caliguire is survived by his wife of Ingram; sons Joe, Anthony and Dean, all of Thornburg; his brother, Jack Caliguire of Florida; his sister, Jean Herman of McKees Rocks; and seven grandchildren.
The fittingly nontraditional funeral will be this morning at 10 a.m. at the Roman Catholic Church of the Ascension in Ingram.
First Published August 11, 2012 12:00 am