Longtime public servant Pat Ungaro dead at age 78
A longtime Valley politician and government official, Patrick Ungaro, passed away Friday night at the age of 78.
The city of Youngstown's long-serving Mayor has died. Pat Ungaro, passed away Friday night at the age of 78.
Ungaro's son Eric Ungaro tells 21 News that his father passed away at home following a battle with cancer, "He truly live his life the way you are supposed to."
Pat Ungaro served as Youngstown's Mayor from 1984 through 1997, when the city was trying to recover from the collapse of the steel industry and battle against organized crime, illegal gambling and public corruption.
In 1984, Ungaro testified at a Congressional hearing on organized crime in the nation's capital, and soon after there was a larger presence of FBI Agents in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
Ungaro built a reputation as an honest man, who could not be bought or bribed.
21 News talked to Ungaro about political corruption in 2014, "How many prosecutors, sheriffs, judges and county commissioners went to prison, along with Mob Boss Lenny Strollo and all the Mafia people? It was real, it wasn't a phony thing, it was real. I was approached by legitimate bad people. Those are people that represent the Mafia. I've been approached by wealthy people. I said no. Period. End of Story."
Ungaro also launched the revitalization of Youngstown's downtown, and cleaned up Brownfield sites to make them ripe for development.
Former Youngstown Mayor John McNally says Ungaro's leadership laid the ground work for what we now see downtown and at the industrial sites, "Even with the decline of industry in the city he was instrumental with his staff, administration and council in creating five or six industrial parks across the city of Youngstown as well. That helped keep the city afloat and are still active."
Ungaro economic development expertise and spirit carried over to his time as Liberty Township Administrator, where he held his appointment for 18 years.
The former Youngstown Mayor announced his retirement as Liberty Township Administrator in late June following his release from a hospital.
Liberty Trustee Jodi Stoyak worked with Ungaro for 16 years and says he was a dear friend, who mentored her when she first became an office holder, "He was able to deal with getting this reconstruction along Belmont Avenue, and it was something that he and I were both passionate about in making Liberty Township look better. He would sometimes take on business owners himself and tell them you need to clean up this property, and they would because it was Pat Ungaro telling them to do it."
Stoyak says she had a chance to see him in the hospital and when he came home she wrote down some thoughts so that nothing would be left unsaid, "I put together a two page letter to him and asked his family -- (pauses) I'm going to break down, sorry. I asked his family to read it to him. Because I wanted him to know everything that I'll miss about him."
Ungaro was also a husband, father, teacher, assistant superintendent and head football coach, and former Rayen Student and athlete Dennis Mosley says Ungaro provided him with direction to do the right thing, and that helped him become a productive member of society.
"Once I got myself cleaned up and realized what Mr. Ungaro really meant and what he was trying to get across, it meant the world to me and that's why I have much love for him here today. You know he was a special man."
Another student athlete, Derek Penn, who met Ungaro as a freshman at Rayen tells 21 News he has kept in touch with him for at least the last 40 years. Penn says, "First of all I would say he was a mountain of a man in stature, integrity, and respect among his players, people that played for him, his peers and subordinates. He never wavered from his ethics, his morals and his ideas. All the while being a very fair, sensitive and concerned individual. When I played for Mr. Ungaro he treated us like young men and all the while provided an adult guiding hand. Every time I came home I tried to have a chat with him, have a mean with him, or at least stop at the office. He cared about all people."
Ungaro earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Youngstown State University and a Masters Degree from Westminster University.
Ungaro was a teacher in the Youngstown School District before becoming Youngstown's Third Ward Councilman, and President of Youngstown City Council.
He would go on to become Youngstown's longest-serving Mayor starting in January of 1984 through January of 1997.
Following his term as Mayor, Ungaro became the Assistant Principal at West Elementary School.
He was appointed Liberty Township Administrator in 2002 where he was in charge of overseeing day-to-day operations in the community.
Tragedy struck in 2012 when Ungaro's youngest son Sean succumbed to drug addiction at the age of 39. Although Ungaro later told 21 News that his heart ached for his son every day, he learned that you have to appreciate every moment with family members.
Funeral arrangements are still pending.