Harrison businessman recalled as 'amazing individual'
John “Jack” Marino's legacy was much more than the successful business he ran, his friends and family said.
“He was an amazing individual,” said Brad Marino, of his father, the former owner of Howard Johnson's restaurant in Harrison, who died on Sunday at 82.
“His family was the focal point of his life. He was always there when anyone needed advice,” Brad Marino, the youngest of Mr. Marino's four sons remembered. “He was a role model for the entire family.”
Mr. Marino, who's father and uncle built the Heights Plaza in Harrison in 1955, was a well known face throughout the Allegheny Valley. He owned the now-closed Howard Johnson restaurant and was a member of Tarentum Elks, Tarentum Lions, and Cerra Club in New Kensington. Mr. Marino was a long-time member of Brackenridge Heights Country Club.
“He helped a lot on the dining aspect of the club, since he owned his restaurant,” Brad Marino said.
But Mr. Marino's longest lasting involvement might be at St. Joseph High School, where he was a board member for more than 20 years.
“Mr. Marino was on our board since its inception,” said Assistant Principal Kimberly Minick. “He was a visionary who was a key part in getting our new (gymnasium) building built.
“He was a dear friend to everyone here and he will be sorely missed by the entire St. Joseph community.”
Minick said Mr. Marino established a scholarship fund at the school, something Brad Marino said his family hopes to continue.
“Mr. Marino helped so many families attend St. Joseph through many, many years,” Minick said.
Brad Marino said his father gave to the fund anonymously, and even he didn't know his father was donating until after he died.
A Korean War-era Air Force veteran, Mr. Marino was a 1948 graduate of Tarentum High School and in 1952 graduated from Duquesne University.
Brad Marino said his father enjoyed golfing but his real passion was the Steelers, something life-long friend and cousin Dr. John Bamonte shared with him.
“We had Steelers season tickets,” Bamonte said. “We really enjoyed going down to the games together, it was a lot of fun. Once we got older, we started giving the tickets to our kids.”
Bamonte said he'll always remember Mr. Marino as a down-to-earth man who was loved by anyone he met.
“Jack seemed to care about everyone,” he said. “He wasn't trying to put on some big show, he was just nice to everyone.”
Bamonte's wife, Eleanor, said she'll always think fondly on the many times she would go to lunch with Mr. Marino and her husband.
“Jack was just a wonderful man,” she said. “We all had a lot of fun together.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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