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Former Dunbar mayor Graziano had 'good heart'

| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Angela Graziano shown on Memorial Day in 2005. Provided by the Dunbar Historical Society
Angela Graziano Provided by the Dunbar Historical Society

As a politician, Angela F. Graziano — Dunbar Borough's first female mayor who died Monday, April 22, 2013 at age 99 — always spoke her mind, according to Donna Myers of the Dunbar Historical Society.

“She could be a bit controversial,” Myers said.

Graziano's obituary made note of a story in the National Enquirer with a photo showing 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 noted the former mayor was also a singer, entertainer and orchestra leader who studied music at West Virginia University.

According to John R. Maddas Jr., who served on council while Graziano was interim mayor in 1989, she was the borough's first female mayor.

“She liked to work with people, especially to do stuff with kids,” Maddas said. “She started the Christmas party in Dunbar for the kids.”

Myers said the programs for the children were something Graziano took special care with. “When she was doing children's programs (for Christmas), she made sure all of the kids had gifts.”

Myers said she did not know Graziano well, but said Graziano “was just in her glory” when working for the children. “She just loved to do that.”

The programs for the children may 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.

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 Graziano. Those interested in viewing the scrapbook may go to the society's museum at 42 Bridge St. when it is open. Special arrangements may also be made by setting up an appointment. Call 724-277-8800.

Graziano passed away 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, was 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 both the Women's Culture Club of Connellsville and the Connellsville Eagles Aerie, and was a member of the Dunbar Historical Society. She organized bus trips for Elizabeth Seton called “Seton Tours.”

She was a member of St. Aloysius Parish in Dunbar and the church's Rosary Altar Society, and was very 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 kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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