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Obituary Stories

Derry artist had many talents, concern for others

Jacob Tierney
| Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 5:39 p.m.

Connie Distefano had many creative outlets — her piano, her accordion, her drawings and paintings, shop window displays and the cakes she decorated at Netzel's Bakery in Derry and Giant Eagle in Latrobe.

“She would stay up all night drawing, and just off the top of her head she would create things that way,” her longtime friend Jo Battaglia said.

Though piano was her primary instrument, she could pick up almost anything and make music with it.

“She was brilliant in music. She could play any musical instrument,” her nephew Donald Uveges said.

Concetta A. “Connie” Distefano of Derry, died Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. She was 80.

She was born Dec. 9, 1936, in Latrobe, the daughter of Antonio and Angelina Distefano.

Ms. Distefano and Battaglia were friends from the time they were children. They'd spend hours together, play tricks on each other and enjoy family picnics at Idlewild Park.

“Their family didn't have a car, and my father would make four or five trips from Idlewild to Derry over and over again to pick us all up so we could have a picnic together,” Battaglia said.

Ms. Distefano had a natural gift for music and studied piano at Mt. Mercy Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

“I think it was just an inborn talent; she just loved it so much,” Battaglia said.

When she wasn't playing music, she could usually be found drawing or painting.

“You should have seen her drawings; she was an unbelievable artist,” Uveges said.

Ms. Distefano would capture on canvas anything that captured her interest.

“Whatever took her fancy, she would paint just about anything,” Battaglia said.

At the bakeries where she worked, she turned her artistic talents to decorating cakes and was often tasked with creating illustrations for holiday window displays.

When her nieces and nephews were young, she would send them to sleep with phonograph records of songs from her favorite musicals such as “My Fair Lady.”

When her family members fell sick, she would come over to care for them.

“She was a very faithful friend, very concerned about many, many people, whether she knew them or not,” Battaglia said.

Ms. Distefano regularly attended Mass at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Derry and was a member of the Altar Rosary Society.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church of Derry. Interment will follow in St. Joseph Church Cemetery.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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