With the passing of Ray Amato, many in northern Blair County said they have lost a special leader.
"He was Mr. Antis Township. He did a lot for that community," said Snyder Township Supervisor Charles Diehl, who served with Amato for many years on the Northern Blair County Regional Sewer Authority. "He was special, that is all I can say. He was always doing something for somebody. There was never a selfish bone in his body."
"He was dedicated to the area, our township and Blair County. He lived and breathed Antis Township. He was an outstanding person ... one of a kind," said Leo Matuszewski, who served with Amato on the sewer authority and on the Antis Township board of supervisors.
Raymond E. Amato, 78, Antis Township, a longtime public servant in the northern Blair community, died Wednesday at UPMC Altoona.
Please see obituary on Page A7.
Mary Jo Caracciolo said Amato was like a grandfather to her son C.J., who just completed his first term on the board of supervisors with Amato.
"Although they were supervisors together, he always called him Mr. Amato. He had known him since he was a little boy," Mary Jo Caracciolo said. "I wish every young man had a role model like Ray Amato. He taught C.J. how to be a gentleman and how to be fair to his constituents."
C.J. Caracciolo said Amato was one of his best friends.
"When I became interested in politics, he was there cheering me on and supporting me. Everybody was family to Ray Amato. If you needed something, he was always there to help," C.J. Caracciolo said. "He was the heart and soul of this community. He was someone I looked up to. When I had to make a decision, I would think, 'What would Ray do?'"
Amato was close friends with elected officials on both the state and local level.
Former state senator Robert C. Jubelirer had known Amato for about 40 years.
"I thought he was one of the finest people I've ever known. He was a very beloved, respected public official as an Antis Township supervisor," Jubelirer said. "He was so well-respected and almost revered. Few people I've known measure up to the kind of person he was."
State Rep. Jerry A. Stern, R-Martinsburg, said Amato took him under his wing when northern Blair County became part of the 80th District.
"He was very caring. He was a very thoughtful man. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was compassionate about what he did and the people that he served. When he spoke to you, you knew it came from the heart," Stern said. "You can't replace those years of experience and that wisdom and knowledge of the township and its problems. He will be sorely missed in the community."
Amato meant so much to so many people and organizations, Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller said.
"He was always willing to help better our community. His passing is a loss not only to the residents of Antis Township for whom he served but to all of Blair County," Miller said.
Amato meant a lot to the youth of the community.
"The Bellwood-Antis Park, that should be named after him. He almost single handedly brought that park back from disarray," C.J. Caracciolo said.
"Ray Amato was all for the kids. Ray did everything for the kids. Everything at that park is all because of Ray Amato," Mary Jo Caracciolo said.
Amato was a sergeant first class in the food service of the 298th Light Equipment Maintenance Company, U.S. Army Reserve, Pleasant Valley Boulevard, during the 1970s, said Don Belsey, who was captain and commanding officer of the company.
"He was good with people," Belsey said.
Amato helped the food service unit win a prestigious Armywide Philip A. Connelly Award for excellence, according to Belsey.
"He was one of the finest, most honest, most determined senior NCOs I ever worked with," Belsey said. "What you saw was what you got."
Friends will be received from 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. today at Jon C. Russin Funeral Home, Bellwood where a vigil for the deceased will also be held. A funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Bellwood, the Rev. David H. Roesch celebrant. Committal with military honors will be at Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum, Altoona.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467. Staff Writer William Kibler contributed to this story.