Longtime Jayhawks football announcer loved music, sports, news
Joe Pacelli of Trafford would have been happy enough just sitting in the front row, watching Tony Bennett perform at the Venetian Room, during a trip to San Francisco in the 1980s.
But he was ready to fly himself to the moon when he saw Bennett on the street the next day, getting into a limousine.
“He was in a white sweatsuit, and he came over and talked to us for a few minutes,” said Mr. Pacelli’s stepdaughter, Antonia Chiappini of Pittsburgh. “(My stepdad) was so happy to have met him.”
Joseph John “J.J.” Pacelli died Friday, March 1, 2019. He was 93.
Mr. Pacelli was born June 24, 1925, the son of the late Phillip and Mary Pacelli of Jeannette. He graduated from Jeannette High School in 1943, entered the Navy and served as a petty officer aboard the USS Virgo during World War II.
The amphibious attack vessel was part of the invasions of Palau, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the war, Mr. Pacelli was stationed in Yokohama, Japan, for eight months of occupation duty.
After returning home, he enrolled at Duquesne University in 1946 and earned his bachelor’s degree in education. In 1952, he earned his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Pittsburgh.
Mr. Pacelli was a longtime teacher in the Jeannette School District, and also worked as a columnist for the former News Dispatch, Standard-Observer, Catholic Accent and Jeannette Spirit
“He was my schoolteacher,” Chiappini said. “He taught my sisters Rose Marie, Mimi and Romae as well. My sister Linda went to Central Catholic.”
Mr. Pacelli was also the voice of the Jeannette Jayhawks football team for more than four decades.
He enjoyed travel, and Chiappini said benefits from her job with US Airways came in very handy.
“We went to Phoenix a lot, and we traveled to San Antonio to take him to his first professional basketball game,” she said.
Mr. Pacelli loved music, and he and his late second wife, Dolores, were regulars at the Holiday House in Monroeville.
“He loved Frank Sinatra,” Chiappini said. “I bought Sirius Radio for my car so we could put the Sinatra channel on for him all the time.”
Mr. Pacelli also taught Ron DeNunzio, owner of DeNunzio’s Restaurants.
“He was always one of my favorite teachers,” DeNunzio said.
In 1977, DeNunzio approached Mr. Pacelli, who also spent some time in the insurance business, about purchasing the Lowry Avenue building in which his insurance business was housed.
“Things happen for a reason,” DeNunzio said. “He’s always had a special place in my heart, because I don’t know if I’d be in the restaurant business if not for him. When he’d come into the restaurant, I’d always thank him for selling me the building.”
Mr. Pacelli is survived by daughters Mimi Ellinghausen, Linda Fawcett, Antonia Chiappini and Romae Pitzer; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
At Mr. Pacelli’s request, there will be no visitation. Funeral services will be private. Interment took place at Twin Valley Memorial Park Mausoleum in Delmont.
Memorial donations can be made to the charity of one’s choice.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .