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Engineer's personality perfect for public service

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Richard M. Cosentino, 85, of Squirrel Hill died Saturday, April 19, 2014.

A gregarious man who spent most of his professional life in public service, Rich Cosentino played volleyball into his 50s, softball into his 70s and met friends in Kristopher's Diner in Greenfield until he was too ill to do so.

He was a regular at Chiodo's Tavern at the foot of the Homestead High Level Bridge until the bar closed in 2005, said his son, Domenick Cosentino of Brooklyn, N.Y. Once he turned 21, he and his father would go there often.

“He just liked being around people in smoky bars and diners and things like that,” Mr. Cosentino's son said.

Richard M. Cosentino of Squirrel Hill died on Saturday, April 19, 2014. He was 85. A lifelong resident of Squirrel Hill, he grew up on Imperial Street and died in the Fernwald Road house his father built in 1949.

A licensed professional engineer and landscape architect, he spent most of his life in public service working for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission, Allegheny County, the city and other public bodies.

The director of Pittsburgh's water department since 1979, Mr. Cosentino became the first executive director of the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority when it was established in 1984.

“He was a true gentleman and a good person to work for, an honest, hardworking man that everyone respected,” said Rick Obermeier, the authority's director of sewer operations.

As a city employee, Mr. Cosentino had a city car but wouldn't use it even on minor errands such as buying milk on the way home, Domenick Cosentino said.

Mr. Cosentino graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He served stateside as an Air Force first lieutenant during the Korean War and retired as a captain in the Air Force Reserve.

He returned to Pitt and earned a master's degree in public health in 1957 while working for his father's landscaping business, his son said.

Frank Kohler of Upper St. Clair met Mr. Cosentino at Pitt, where they were civil engineering students. His friend had a knack for getting along with people, which allowed him to work in public positions that often draw controversy, Kohler said.

“He understood people. I think he could analyze your personality, figure out how to talk to you.”

In addition to his son Domenick, Mr. Cosentino is survived by his wife of 42 years, Doreen Donauer Cosentino; his daughter, Caterina Natalia of Penn Hills; his sons, Richard S. Cosentino of Shaler and Michael Cosentino of Regent Square; his sister, Louise Carter of Forest Hills; and six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his sister, Vera McDaniel, and brother, Louis Cosentino.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland. John A. Freyvogel Sons is handling arrangements.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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