Trafford electrician loved making wine, growing peppers
Domenick Cercone’s family didn’t want flowers or memorial donations their father’s memory. They had a simple request, placed in the final line of his obituary.
“Please fry up some Italian hot peppers and enjoy them with a glass of your favorite wine,” it read.
If Mr. Cercone were here, it’s likely what he would be doing.
“I bet he had 100 dozen peppers this year,” said his daughter Karen Cercone of Trafford.
Domenick Cercone, of Trafford, died Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. He was 91.
Mr. Cercone was born Jan. 18, 1928, in Trafford, son of Antonio and Maria (Silvestri) Cercone, whose family hailed from the Abruzzi region of Italy.
“His parents were from a town called Pacentro,” Cercone said.
Mr. Cercone graduated from Trafford High School in 1945, and shortly thereafter was deployed to the Philippines as part of U.S. occupying forces toward the end of World War II.
“He delivered mail and he had a Filipino coworker,” Cercone said. “They would start delivering the mail and his coworker would always fall asleep.”
That was when Mr. Cercone’s mischievous side came out.
“As soon as that happened, my dad would get as lost as he possibly could in Manila, just to see if his coworker would know where they were when he woke up,” Cercone said. “And he always did.”
After returning home, Mr. Cercone began working for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pitcairn. One day during lunch at the Penn Mor Hotel on Mosside Boulevard, he struck up a conversation with one of the Amantea twins, a pair of sisters who waitressed at the Penn Mor.
“It was their family’s restaurant,” Cercone said. “He married my mom, Evelyn Amantea, on April 15, 1950.”
The couple moved to Chicago, where Mr. Cercone was a member of the American Television Institute’s first graduating class in 1951.
“TV was new then,” Cercone said. “It was like the computer of its day and, so, they had to train people how to repair it.”
The Cercones returned to the area in 1951 and ran Cercone Electric until 1958. Mr. Cercone later worked for Beswick Electric in Forest Hills and Westinghouse Electric in Pittsburgh, before starting his own TV repair service in 1973 in Trafford.
In his spare time, he could be found in a garden that continued to grow larger year after year.
“His father had a greenhouse, and our whole family always had gardens on the big lot we had in Trafford,” Cercone said. “He and his cousins all had gardens together, kind of like back in Italy.”
Eventually, much of the garden had to give up ground to a new crop: grapes.
“He got into wine, and then we basically had a hillside vineyard,” Cercone said. “He grew wine grapes like Cabernet and Riesling. My mom loved Riesling and he made it for her for many years.”
But Mr. Cercone never stopped growing his peppers.
“He would do the Italian frying peppers, then he had some French fryers and those Japanese shishito peppers they use in tempura,” Cercone said.
Mr. Cercone is survived by his wife of 69 years, Evelyn (Amantea) Cercone, daughter Karen Rose Cercone and son Adam (Vicky) Cercone, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A private family service will be followed by immediate entombment in Twin Valley Memorial Park, Delmont. Vaia Funeral Home Inc., 463 Athena Drive, Delmont, is in charge of arrangements.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .