STEUBENVILLE - Friends and colleagues of the late Richard Canestraro Sr. are remembering the former longtime Jefferson County auditor as a strong force in local government as well as a kind person not afraid to give his opinion.
Canestraro, 81, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was born Sept. 21, 1932, in Steubenville, a son of the late Giacondo and Anthetta Scarnechia Canestraro.
A 1950 graduate of Mingo High School, he also attended the former College of Steubenville where he met his wife of 53 years, Mary Gloria Borsellino Canestraro. He was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Wadsworth, and a former member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Steubenville.
Canestraro was a member and past chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, where he served on the executive committee and was a presidential delegate. Beginning his career with Canestraro Accounting, he soon entered local politics, where he was elected and served as county auditor for more than 35 years before retiring.
Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said no one knew county finances better than Canestraro.
"He was always good with numbers," said the sheriff. "He had the facts and figures. And he always spoke his mind. You always knew where he stood on any issue."
Abdalla also said Canestraro was involved in the community and always made himself accessible to county citizens.
"Whether it was to do with the community or personal business, he was always involved," Abdalla said. "No one knew the figures like he did."
Former Jefferson County Commissioner Jerry Krupinski said Canestraro was a large influence on him as a freshman commissioner.
"When I was first elected in 1980, (Canestraro) was county auditor," said Krupinski. "Everything was new to me. He was the 'go to' person for me. He understood the budget better than anyone.
"He was trustworthy, and his word was his bond," continued Krupinski. "I always got along well with him. He told the commissioners what was and wasn't financially doable."
Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci said Canestraro was a longtime friend of his and his family, and he often socialized with Mucci's parents.
"I knew him my whole life," said Mucci. "He was the accountant for Mucci Printing. I once supported him when he ran unsuccessfully for (Steubenville) mayor.
"He was a kind individual," Mucci continued. "He was always very understanding. He definitely brings back a lot of memories for my family. He was really an outstanding auditor for Jefferson County."
Canestraro also was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 3213, Wadsworth; and Council 472, Steubenville; as well as a member of the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly 1766, Wadsworth; and Father Bigelow Assembly, Steubenville. He additionally was a member and past president of the Steubenville Alumni Club of the Alpha Phi Delta Fraternity and a member and past president of the Steubenville Lion's Club. He also was a member of the Steubenville Columbus Club.
Calling hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Mosti Funeral Home, Sunset Chapel, 4435 Sunset Blvd. A Funeral Liturgy with Mass will be celebrated 11:30 a.m. Monday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery in Steubenville.