Fran Ferragonio Jr. spent most of his life helping young people learn from the past and make better choices.
He retired as a juvenile detective with the Penn Hills Police Department in 2004 after a 25-year career.
Ferragonio specialized in community policing as a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) officer.
“He did a lot of work with the kids,” police Chief Howard Burton said. “Very community oriented, a real good officer. He was very much involved with the youth. I’m just shocked that he died.”
Francis P. Ferragonio Jr. died Tuesday, May 28, 2019, after a long fight with respiratory issues. He was 64.
He was a member of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91, and his onetime colleagues took to Facebook to offer their condolences to the Ferragonio family.
“Today we lost a great man,” the post read. “In retirement he was always working and spending time with his family, but always took time to say hello in passing at Kennywood or just out and about. … We send our thoughts and prayers from out executive board and members.”
Ferragonio was named Western Pennsylvania Crime Prevention Officer of the Year in 2002.
He would frequent the halls of Penn Hills School District buildings as an officer and worked as a Linton Middle School history teacher for seven years.
“I was really, really sad to see that he passed away really unexpected,” district Superintendent Nancy Hines said. “I’ve never heard anybody say a bad thing about Fran. He just clearly loved kids. He was a beloved guy. He was a really friendly face for the kids as an officer.”
Ferragonio encouraged young people to be positive and work hard to achieve their goals. No one heard that message more than his daughters, Lauren and Sarah.
“He was at anything that me and my sister did,” Lauren Ferragonio said. “He was our biggest cheerleader at orchestra concerts, soccer games. He was just selfless, kind, compassionate, always willing to help anybody and everybody in need. He was a true angel on earth.”
Lauren Ferragonio of Plum is in her seventh season with the Pittsburgh Passion women’s football team.
She said her father was like part of the game-day staff and really helped the team.
“He just wanted to be involved,” she said. “Everybody’s just in total shock because it was rather sudden. Everybody’s kind of heartbroken. Everybody had their own special relationship with him. He just loved everybody so much.
“He was a jack of all trades. He wore many hats. He was a bright light in a dark world, and it’s going to be a little dimmer without him.”
After calling it a career in Penn Hills law enforcement, Ferragonio served as a supervisor for Kennywood’s public safety department, a stress management presenter for Personal Growth Management and a hypnotherapist for his own hypnosis and life strategies company. Hobbies included ventriloquism and collecting Snoopy and Jiminy Cricket memorabilia.
In January 2018, he was sworn to a four-year term as Plum’s tax collector.
Ferragonio was preceded in death by his father, Fran Sr., and his mother, Madeline. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, his two daughters, his brother Anthony and his sister Annette.