Primo Vivio Lusardi

Aug. 11, 1920 - Oct. 16, 2017


Primo Vivio Lusardi, 97, Tyrone, died Monday.

He was born in Hollidaysburg, son of James L. Sr. and Louisa (Zazzali) Lusardi. On Oct. 10, 1953, he married Mary Philipena “Phil” Hagg at St. Matthew Catholic Church, Tyrone, and she preceded him in death on Aug. 8, 1996.

Surviving are four children: Christine (Steve) Stoner of Tyrone, David (Ann) Lusardi of Northern Huntingdon, Stephen (Mary) of Louisville, Ky., and Meg of Boston, Mass.; four grandchildren: Eileen (Krzysztof) Panasewicz of Bristol, Va., Katherine Lusardi of Little Rock, Ark., Johnny Lusardi of Louisville, Ky., and Michael Stoner of Tyrone; two great grandchildren: Anthony Primo and Vincent Panasewicz; and six nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by two sons: Andrew in 1978, and Michael in 1983; three sisters: Cleofe, Nurea Mase and Ligia; and five brothers: Cornelius, Alexander, James, Herman and Remus.

Primo was a 1938 graduate of Hollidaysburg High School. After graduation, he was employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

On Oct. 20, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. During WWII, Primo was the navigator aircrew member of a B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber. In preparation for this responsibility, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant as part of his training at Selman Army Air Field, Monroe, La. He was assigned to the 512th Squadron, 376th Bomber Group of the 15th Army Air Corps out of San Pancrazio, Italy. He was credited with 11 missions before his plane was shot down over the Bavaria region of Germany on Oct. 5, 1944, at which time he was immediately captured by Nazi Germany. He was one of two surviving members of his aircrew.

Primo was then interred to prisoner of war camp, Luft Stalag III, near Sagan, Germany. Toward the end of the war, he participated in the forced march of allied prisoners of war in blistery cold snowy weather from Sagan to Stalag 7A (near Moosberg, Germany) as part of the strategy to prevent the liberation of the POWs by the Russian Forces. For his time in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Primo was awarded the USAAF Air Medal. He was discharged from the U.S. Army Air Corps in December 1945, from DeShon General Hospital, Butler.

After his military service, Primo attended the University of Notre Dame under the GI bill. During his time as a student, the football team remained undefeated all four years under Coach Frank Leahy, with two national championships. Primo graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a minor in chemistry. For the remainder of his life, he yearned for his “Fighting Irish” to return to the glory days of his college years.

After graduation, Primo was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. He then returned to the Pennsylvania Railroad as a chemist. He went on to become a quality control manager at Warnaco. In 1988, he retired as an employment advisor for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Employment Security, where he is still remembered with gratitude by many clients for the jobs that he found for them. But more than anything, his family was his career. His life was centered on being “Dad” and “Poppa.”

Primo was a member of St. Matthew Catholic Church, Tyrone, where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a former member of the finance committee. He was also a member of Howard Gardner Post No. 281 American Legion, Tyrone Elks BPOE Lodge No. 212 and the Gardner Club. He was an active member of the Southern Alleghenies Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War, and he greatly enjoyed the monthly luncheons with his fellow comrades. On Aug. 11, 2017, his 97th birthday, Primo received an apostolic blessing from His Holiness Pope Francis.

Primo will be remembered for his enduring, steadfast commitment to his faith, family, country and his beloved Notre Dame. He was known to have a quick, mischievous wit. He was happiest when surrounded by his entire family, and he was grateful to have his grandson, Michael, close and to be a big part of his life. He believed in never giving up, and he never did.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, and from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at Richard H. Searer Funeral Home, Tyrone. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1105 Cameron Ave., Tyrone, Father Jozef Kovacik officiating. Internment with military honors will be at Oak Grove Cemetery, Tyrone.

Contributions in Primo’s memory may be made to St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1105 Cameron Ave., Tyrone PA 16686; The Arc of Blair County, 431 Jackson Ave., Altoona, PA 16602; or Disabled American Veterans, 1665 Newry Lane VFW, Duncansville, PA 16635.