Graziano, Dunbar's first female mayor, dies at 99
As a politician, Angela F. Graziano — Dunbar Borough's first female mayor who died at 99 on Monday April 22, 2013 — always spoke her mind, according to Donna Myers of the Dunbar Historical Society.
“She could be a bit controversial,” Myers said.
Mrs. Graziano's obituary made note of a story in the National Enquirer. A photo showed her sweeping the streets in Dunbar as an elderly mayor.
“She had a good heart,” Myers said. “She was always involved. She was very confident, outgoing. …”
Myers said the former mayor also was a singer, entertainer and orchestra leader who studied music at West Virginia University.
According to former Councilman John R. Maddas Jr., she was the borough's first female mayor.
“She liked to work with people, especially to do stuff with kids,” said Maddas, who served on council when Mrs. Graziano was interim mayor in 1989. “She started the Christmas party in Dunbar for the kids.”
Myers said the programs for the children were something that Mrs. Graziano took special care.
“When she was doing children's programs (for Christmas), she made sure all of the kids had gifts,” Myers recalled.
Myers said she didn't know Mrs. Graziano well, but said the former mayor “was just in her glory” when working for the children. “She just loved to do that.”
The programs for the children might have helped keep her enthusiasm at a high level later in life.
“I was surprised to find out she was 99, when I saw her obituary in the paper,” Myers said Wednesday.
Mrs. Graziano was listed in the centennial history of the community, published in 1983, as mayor for four years, starting in 1978 — making her one of the first elected female mayors in Pennsylvania. She also served as interim mayor in 1989 and ran again but lost in 1990.
The historical society maintains a scrapbook with photos and clippings of Mrs. Graziano. Those interested in viewing the scrapbook may go to the society's museum at 42 Bridge St. during business hours. Special arrangements can be made by setting up an appointment. Call 724-277-8800.
Mrs. Graziano died Monday in LaFayette Manor, Uniontown. She was born Jan. 28, 1914, in Connellsville, a daughter of the late Salvatore and Philomena Tatarelli Andyjohn.
She was a graduate of Connellsville High School, a member of the singing group Angel Aires and a member of the Sammy K. Orchestra.
She served as Township Ladies organizer; past president of the Women's Culture Club of Connellsville and the Connellsville Eagles Aerie; and a member of Dunbar Historical Society. She organized bus trips for Elizabeth Seton called “Seton Tours.”
Mrs. Graziano was a member of St. Aloysius Parish in Dunbar and the church's Rosary Altar Society. She was involved with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, Joseph F. Graziano, in 1987; a grandson, Mark Burnsworth; three sisters, Mary Sante, Parmina Andyjohn and Ada Caringola Homonai; and three brothers, Patsy, Joseph and Arthur Andyjohn.
She is survived by a son, Joseph “JD” Graziano; a daughter, Patricia “Patti” Toprani; a granddaughter-in-law, Jolinda Burnsworth; two great-granddaughters, Christina and Kelsey Burnsworth, all of McKeesport; a sister-in-law, Kathleen Andyjohn, of Connellsville; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-626-3538.