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Vandergrift barber enjoyed 60-year career in hometown

| Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009

Nate Roberto was a master barber who, during the years he served overseas with the Army Air Corps, practiced his trade under trees and in trenches on the Pacific islands of Guam and the Marianas during World War II.

"Dad was a supply sergeant and, often on his own, would cut the hair of the men he served with — which they appreciated," said his son, Frank Roberto of Dublin, Ohio.

Nate Roberto of Vandergrift, former owner of the Central Barber Shop in Vandergrift, died on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009, in Arbors at St. Barnabas Village, Valencia. He was 93.

"And although my father earlier in his career cut hair in a barbershop located near Radio City Music Hall in New York City, he returned to Vandergrift where he cut hair for 60 years," his son added.

His daughter, Bernadette Clinton of McCandless, recalled how when she and her brother were still in school, they would help to clean the shop after closing hours.

"My father worked long hours to put us both through college," she added. "We both received our degrees and taught.

"Dad was also community oriented and, as the founding chairman of the Vandergrift Area Park and Pool program, he was instrumental in the building of the swimming pool and also had me helping there," his daughter added.

Mr. Roberto's career as a barber began in Noci, Italy, where as a youngster he was apprenticed to a local barber, who not only cut hair but was available to pull the tooth of a client.

In 1929, his father, who had been working in Pennsylvania since arriving from Italy, returned to Italy and brought his family to Vandergrift. Upon attending school and learning English, Mr. Roberto began barbering in a shop that his father bought for him.

And at the time, haircuts were 35 cents, and shaves a quarter.

Although Mr. Roberto left home to barber in New York City in 1935, he returned home two years later and operated his former barbershop until he entered the service in 1942. A year later, Nate Roberto married Carmella Pugliese, a resident of Vandergrift.

In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Roberto is survived by five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and three sisters, Pauline Seben of York, Ann DiCola of Cabot and Rita Moliterno of Port Matilda.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carmella, in 1998, and his brothers, Arthur and John Roberto.

Friends are welcome from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. today in Brady-Curran Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc., 429 Franklin Ave., Vandergrift.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Gertrude Roman Catholic Church, Vandergrift, where he was a member, with the Rev. James Loew as celebrant.

Burial will be in St. Gertrude Cemetery, where military honors will be accorded by the Vandergrift Veterans Honor Guard Inc.

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