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Businessman's big heart touched family, friends

| Monday, March 2, 2009

When people wanted to start a business in or near Greensburg, they turned to Edwin A. Paulone.

A man with a big heart and a trusting instinct, he contributed to the construction of countless buildings in the community he called home.

"You can't go through this community without seeing a building he built, yet he was able to have success in business and maintain a great family life," said his son, Danny Paulone of Greensburg. "He's touched thousands of lives in this community."

Mr. Paulone, of Greensburg, who founded Irwin Builders Supplies 60 years ago, died Friday, Feb. 27, 2009, in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. He was 85.

Born in Torino di Sangro, Italy, he immigrated to Jeannette with his mother when he was 6 months old. At 19, he entered the Air Force, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant and first became interested in construction. He was the officer in charge of building supplies in the quartermaster unit.

Before starting his company, Mr. Paulone worked as a photographer in Westmoreland County, shooting weddings and amateur boxing matches, his son said. He started his building supply business a few years later with one delivery truck and a small office building.

"He put a lot of hard work and sweat and blood into his business," Danny Paulone said. "The proudest thing for him was to see how it has grown."

Mr. Paulone also founded Seneca Homes, now known as Donald A. Paulone Custom Built Homes, and the Westmoreland Professional Builders Association; co-founded Hempfield Highlands Mobile Home Park; and served 30 years on the board of directors at Irwin Bank and Trust.

His relatives and friends will remember him as a compassionate, giving man, said his daughter, Becky Itle of Jeannette.

"He was just one of the most wonderful people you met," Itle said. "My son-in-law never had a grandfather, but always felt Dad was his. That's the type of guy he was."

If someone was short on money for building supplies, he would offer them credit at their word. That reputation helped him succeed in the community, his son said.

No accomplishment meant as much as his family, Itle said. He would make time for his family no matter how busy he was with work, his children said. In 2005, the family trekked to Mr. Paulone's hometown in Italy, seeing the room in which he was born and attending a Mass at the Vatican.

Mr. Paulone loved sports, particularly football and golf. He attended six of the Steelers' seven Super Bowl appearances, including last month's Super Bowl XLIII triumph in Tampa, traveling across Florida from his winter home in West Palm Beach. No matter where he was, Mr. Paulone enjoyed giving to others, Danny Paulone said.

"He'd offer people rides to the airport and was just so giving to everybody," his son said. "He considered all of his friends family. He used to always say life is shorter than you think, and that the first 100 years are the toughest. He always put everybody else first."

Mr. Paulone is survived by his wife, Marie; sons, Daniel and Donald Paulone, both of Greensburg; daughters, Rachele Rainville of Wexford and Rebecca Itle of Jeannette; sisters, Dora Enrico of Jeannette and Clare Avolio of Ligonier; 11 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by a brother, Aldo, and a sister, Delia.

Friends and family will be received from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today and from 1 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Kepple-Graft Funeral Home, 524 N. Main St., Greensburg.

A prayer service is scheduled at the funeral home at 9 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a funeral Mass at 9:30 a.m. in Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 1001 Mt. Pleasant Road.

Interment will follow in Greensburg Catholic Cemetery, 179 Donahoe Road.

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