Former Belle Vernon mayor Ferreri went 'above and beyond'
Frank Ferreri got into public service because he wanted to make the neighborhood and his community better.
“He always stood up for the average man,” Joe Ferreri said of his father.
For three decades, Frank Ferreri did so, serving first as a borough councilman for six years and then as mayor of Belle Vernon from 1975 to 1998. “He always took his job seriously,” Joe Ferreri said. “He never took a paycheck as mayor. He always wanted to help people.”
Ferreri, 91, passed away Friday in Monongahela Valley Hospital.
Ferreri's shining moment as mayor likely came in the aftermath of a Nov. 5, 1985, flood that ravished the Mid-Mon Valley and struck Belle Vernon particularly hard.
Ferreri traveled to Uniontown to purchase hay and made calls seeking help from the National Guard – at no cost to the borough of Belle Vernon, his son noted.
“He spent day and night trying to help people,” Ferreri said. “He was very instrumental in bringing the town back.”
Joe Ferreri said he learned lessons from his father about taking care of people.
“My dad always went above and beyond the call of duty,” Ferreri said. “He thought a lot about doing right by the people.”
He went above and beyond the call of duty early on in his life. Graduating from Monessen High School in 1939 at age 17, Ferreri enlisted in the Army.
He served in the Cavalry. When World War II broke out, he joined Darby's rangers, an elite task force that evolved into the U.S. Army Rangers.
On D-Day, he scaled the walls at Normandy. He participated in the battle of the Bulge, helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp and marched on Berlin.
Out of a battalion of roughly 500 to start out at D-Day, he was one of just 18 to survive the war in Europe.
“They wanted to fight in Japan and they were sent home,” Joe Ferreri said.
“They had done enough.”
After the service, Ferreri worked at the Gibsonton rail yard and at Monessen Wheeling-Pittsburgh steel plant as a troubleshooter in the electric department.
And he got involved in community service. He volunteered as a cub master and later scout leader for Pack and Troop 1543 at St. Sebastian Church in North Belle Vernon.
He also joined the Fayette County Housing Board. He was instrumental in getting the high-rise in Belle Vernon built and helping seniors get placed there.
Kris Kirchner was police chief in Belle Vernon at the time.
“He was one of the best bosses I ever had,” Kirchner said. “He was always by the book. He never interfered with the department.
“He was easy going. He was a very good mayor, always active in getting things for the town.”
Kirchner said his good friend's shining moment of service came helping his neighbors following the November 1985 flood.
After seeking outside assistance for the borough, Ferreri rolled up his sleeves and went to work for the people.
“He got refrigerators and other things for people who lost everything in the flood,” Kirchner recalled. “He helped people get the resources they needed.
“Frank camped out at the municipal building during that time. He never went home for four days. He would buy food for firefighters out of his own pocket.
“He was always helping people during that time.”
Kirchner said the mayor also fielded calls from officials in other Valley communities in need.
“He was very honest, honorable and caring,” Kirchner said. “He will go down as one of the best mayors Belle Vernon has ever had. He did a lot for the town.
“He never did it for appreciation, he did it because it needed to be done.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.