Francis “Fran” LaGrotta, age 88, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at his residence, surrounded by the love and prayers of his family.
Born in Beaver Falls, PA to the late Ned and Rose (Jerome) LaGrotta, Fran graduated from Beaver Falls High School in 1950 and served in active duty in the US Army during the Korean War.
Fran always said he was born in 1932, but his life didn’t begin until February 4, 1956 when he married the love of his life, the former Loretta DeThomas of Ellwood City, with whom he shared almost 65 years of love and devotion.
Fran was known for his devotion to his family. He adored his grandchildren and great-grandsons. Pappy’s Saturday morning special breakfasts were legendary.
A devout Catholic with deep faith, Fran was a member of Holy Redeemer Parish, where he served as an usher for many years.
He was a Union cement mason who was a partner in the contracting company, Macioce and LaGrotta, for many years. A strong supporter of unions and workers’ rights, Fran retired as a business manager for the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Union Local 526, Pittsburgh, PA.
A man with a tool for every occasion, Fran was known to his family and friends as “The Fix-It Man,” because he could create or fix practically anything. As his grandchildren liked to say, “If Pap can’t fix it, no one can.”
An avid sports fan, Fran was a Steelers season-ticket holder since 1972, and he loved the Black and Gold, especially the great teams of the seventies. Among the most memorable events of his life were attending the Steelers’ 31-19 victory over the LA Rams in Super Bowl XIV, and participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for Heinz Field, where he was seated between Coach Chuck Noll (with whom Fran shared a birthday) and “Mean Joe” Greene.
Fran also loved the Penguins, and he attended every Stanley Cup home playoff game during the team’s first two championship seasons. However, other than his family and his faith, Fran’s real passion was all things Notre Dame. Football, basketball, hockey…Fran always said he’d watch a game of Tiddlywinks if Notre Dame was playing. However, his love for Notre Dame went beyond athletics. At the end of every televised Notre Dame football game, he would wait to sing the alma mater, “Notre Dame Our Mother,” with the team and student body. Fran considered the song to be a prayer to the Blessed Mother.
This wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather is survived by his wife, Loretta, his children, Frank of Ellwood City, with whom he resided, Ann Bartolomeo of Wilmingon, NC, two grandchildren, Alissa (Darrin) Overholt of Wilmington, NC and Frank (Leili Kasraie) Lemmon of Atlanta, GA, two great-grandsons, Lucas Eugene and Andrew Francis Overholt, and numerous nieces and nephews including Nick (Diane) DiTommaso, Mike (Sue) DiTommaso and Debby Ritter, all of Ellwood City.
In additon to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Gloria Arcadi, his brother, Ned Donald, a son-in law, Richard Bartolomeo, his brother-in-law, Michael DiTommaso and Michael’s wife, Jean, who Fran considered a brother and sister.
Because of the current COVID 19 restrictions regarding public gatherings, private family services were held at the Joseph A. Tomon, Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory. A memorial mass will be held at a later date and announced by the LaGrotta family. Cards can be sent to the family in care of the funeral home at 97 Grim Ave., PO Box 188, Ellwood City, PA 16117.
The family requests that anyone who cares to should make a contribution in Fran’s name be made to the charity he was devoted to, St. Jude’s Childrens’ Cancer Research Hospital of Nashville, TN.
The family would like to thank Dr. William Ferri for providing years of loving care to Fran, Anova Hospice and caregivers Rob Lippmann and Joann Eichler for providing the loving care Fran received in his final days at home.
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