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WWII hero made mark with dancing, carpentry

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Friday, June 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Every day in his Murrysville home is a constant reminder of family love for Larry Liberatore.

He thinks of the months he spent with his carpenter father laying wood and pounding nails to build the house.

“He was here every day, and he loved that stuff,” Larry Liberatore said.

Louis Liberatore of McKeesport died Monday, June 17, 2013. He was 95.

During World War II, Mr. Liberatore served with the Army and was stationed in Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Using his carpentry skills, he built furniture and other necessities for his battalion while they were abroad, according to his son and his daughter, Lorie Cannon of Jeannette.

Mr. Liberatore was discharged in October 1945 with four Bronze Star Medals for meritorious service.

He left the Army with something else special — a nickname.

“He had a name, ‘Jitterbug Lou,'” Larry Liberatore said. “He was a fantastic dancer.”

Mr. Liberatore frequented the Palisades community center and Turners in McKeesport with his wife, Mabel Smith Liberatore, 81.

“Every weekend they were out dancing,” Larry Liberatore said.

The “jitterbugger” had his own moves, Lorie Cannon said.

“You couldn't keep up with him,” she said.

Like dancing, carpentry was a tradition in Mr. Liberatore's life. Lorie Cannon recalled that when she was a child, her parents' kitchen was full of her father's handiwork.

“It's just in his blood,” she said.

He had a knack for cooking, said granddaughter Sara Cannon. Mr. Liberatore would make a vat of spaghetti sauce and hand out individual containers to family members.

Cannon described her grandfather as a “charismatic” person who “loved to be the one making the jokes.” As much as he loved woodworking and his hobbies, Mr. Liberatore loved his family and being the life of the party.

“It wasn't uncommon for him to crawl on the floor with his great-grandchildren,” Larry Liberatore said. “He was good to everybody.”

He was a longtime member of White Oak American Legion Post 701 and was employed by now-defunct department store G.C. Murphy.

In addition to his wife and two children, Mr. Liberatore is survived by four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a sister.

A funeral service is scheduled for 10 am. Friday in the chapel of Strifflers of White Oak Cremation and Mortuary Services, 1100 Lincoln Way, White Oak. Interment will follow in Richland Cemetery.

Remembrances can be made in Mr. Liberatore's honor to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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