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'Mr. Cranberry' played key role in township's growth

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Photo of Frank Petrone, 90, of Cranberry, who died Sept. 19. Petrone was a former township supervisor and member of the planning commission, credited for spearheading the early development of the township.

Community leaders said they are trying to decide how best to honor the memory of longtime Cranberry supporter Frank Petrone, who helped steer the township through the early days of growing development.

“If I could do half as well as he did, I would be very proud in my life,” said Rich Inman, president of the Sunrise Rotary Club, which Petrone helped found in 1994.

Township Manager Jerry Andree affectionately referred to Petrone, who died Sept. 19 at the age of 90, as “Mr. Cranberry.”

Petrone was a former member of the planning commission and, in 1976, became supervisor for a six-year term.

“He saw that growth coming,” Inman said. “He was a great mentor and friend to me, personally and professionally,”

One of Petrone's biggest accomplishments, township officials said, was his multi-year push to get Cranberry a post office and separate Zip code in 1994, separating it from the Mars area.

“People underestimate that,” Inman said. “That put us on the map and allowed us to grow.”

Petrone was a businessman, selling building materials to contractors. He was the former chairman of the Producers Council of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Builders Exchange.

Andree said Petrone was a big supporter of diversity and welcoming international neighbors.

He helped spur a “sister city” relationship with Haiyang in the Shandong province of China. Township officials said that pairing brings together one of China's major nuclear electricity generation centers with Cranberry, which hosts Westinghouse Electric, a supplier of nuclear reactors.

Petrone was a charter member of the Noon Rotary Club well before helping to found Sunrise in 1999.

An Army veteran of World War II, he was a lifetime member of the Cranberry Township Veterans of Foreign Wars and a lifetime member of the American Legion Post No. 494 in Zelienople.

In 2012, the Cranberry Township Chamber of Commerce honored Petrone as its Citizen of the Year.

The best way the community can honor Petrone, Andree said, is to “work hard for what Frank stood for, never back down, never forget where we came from and what we're heading for.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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