Frank Castelli, well-known in Cambria County circles as a self-made businessman, a public servant and politician, died Thursday.
Castelli, 88, lived in the Winterset area of northern Cambria County.
He may have started out as a coal truck driver, but was perhaps best known for the Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership he owned for many years in the Ebensburg area. He was also being remembered Saturday for the loyalty he displayed to his friends.
“If he liked you, he liked you, and he was always there for you,” said former Cambria County Commissioner Kathy Holtzman. “He never, ever refused me anything.”
Born in South Fork, Castelli died at Miners Medical Center in Hastings. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and an extensive family.
Ed Cernic Jr., who got to know Castelli through his many years serving as chairman of the Cambria County Transit Authority, has fond memories of a man who leaves a legacy of public service.
“Frank was a local businessman who believed in his community,” Cernic said. “He was a self-made man, and if Frank was your friend, you had a friend.”
During the 1990s Cernic and Castelli ran for Cambria County commissioner as a team, but lost in the primary to Ted Baranik and Susan Evans.
“We were the endorsed candidates of the Cambria County Democratic Party, but we got beat,” Cernic said Saturday.
Castelli’s death notice in today’s edition notes that he was a scoutmaster and a Nanty Glo postmaster.
Despite his brief formal education – he received his GED in 1968 – Castelli served on boards at St. Francis University and Mount Aloysius College and was chairman of the Admiral Peary Vocational-Technical curriculum committee.
Castelli was extensively involved in the Ford Motor Corp. at the national and regional levels.
He also owned Central Transportation Inc., a school bus corporation, and developed a horse breeding facility and a nursery to grow Christmas trees, to name just a few of his accomplishments.
He was appointed by Pennsylvania governors to state committees three times and was credited, according to his obituary, with developing the Good Samaritan Nursing Care Center.
His accomplishments are outstanding, Holtzman said.
She recalled Castelli as a man
who didn’t back down and was “ready to scrap.”
Holtzman especially remembers his tenacious spirit during his years as chairman of the county transit authority, a time plagued by controversy when Castelli “rode the waves,” she said.
“He was very interested in the community; he was a good guy to network with,” she said. “He was a very successful businessman, but he shared his success with others.”
Castelli’s funeral Tuesday will be private. A public visitation from 2 to
8 p.m. Monday will be held at the Askew-Houser Funeral Homes Inc., 300 N. Julian St., Ebensburg.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.