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Elco man still loving life at 79

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Nunzio SantoColombo
Nunzio SantoColombo

Nunzio SantoColombo served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard, often at sea for months at a time.

But the gregarious Monessen native loves life and enjoys being with people. That's why he enjoyed his work for the Tribune-Review, which he did later in life.

SantoColombo grew up on Third Street, where his brother still lives. A 1952 graduate of Monessen High School, he joined the Coast Guard right out of high school.

He served on a weather ship, the USS Coos Bay, from 1952 to 1956 on the East Coast out of Portland, Maine.

The crew tracked the weather for planes, sending up weather balloons and monitoring icebergs for ships.

After discharge from the Coast Guard, SantoColombo worked at Page Steel and Wire Co. until the Monessen plant closed down. He then worked for his brother for 1½ years in a store at Third Street corner in Monessen.

In 1973, he got a job with the Allenport Plant of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp., working there until he was laid off in 1982.

In 1980, he moved to Elco.

“I bought a house to be close to work (in the mill), then I got laid off,” he said with a laugh.

He then worked as a newspaper route distributor for the Post-Gazette for 17 years.

In 2001, SantoColombo was hired by the Tribune-Review to work in the Charleroi office as a “runner,” delivering papers to subscribers who were missed on a route. He retired for good in 2006.

SantoColombo said he most enjoyed his work with the Tribune-Review.

“I can't describe how much I enjoyed it,” SantoColombo said. “That was a good time in my life. When I got the job with the Trib, I was working with people.

“I miss it so much. In October, I turned 79 and sometimes I feel I'd like to go back to work for the Trib. I get bored because I do not get out as much.”

He met his wife, Rhonda, through a friend.

“He had a girlfriend in West Newton,” SantoColombo said. “She was bringing a friend along and he called me to ask if I wanted to go out with her.

“We spent 41 years together.”

His wife passed away in 1998.

He has two daughters, Tammi Jo Prah of Banning, and Christine Goguen of Edmonton; and two sons, Nunzio SantoColombo III of Latrobe and Dean SantoColombo of Canonsburg. SantoColombo has six grandchildren.

“My family and I try to get together a couple of times a year for dinner and to get caught up,” SantoColombo said.

In retirement, SantoColombo likes to hang out “with the old cronies” at the Charleroi McDonalds, he said with a laugh.

“I also love to do word games while watching TV – something to keep the mind occupied,” he said.

SantoColombo said his Oct. 31 birthday – Halloween – is fitting.

“I'm a fun lover so that just suits me fine,” SantoColombo said.

In 2005, SantoColombo dressed in a Gorilla suit and went into the McDonalds in Charleroi, just for fun. The store manager asked SantoColombo to hand out food packages to the customers at the drive-through window.

“I enjoyed kidding around with the people in their cars,” SantoColombo admitted.

SantoColombo looks back on his life fondly.

“I was really in love with my wife and proud of my service time,” SantoColombo said. “I didn't do anything outside of the country, but I did enjoy serving my country.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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