The Mahoning Valley lost a local hero on Monday when the longtime owner of Fernando's Wedgewood Pizza in Austintown, Fernando Riccioni died at the age of 91.

Members of the community have since been sharing an outpouring of support for Riccioni and his legacy in the Mahoning Valley.

A tweet from Austintown Schools mourned the loss of Riccioni and thanked him for his "constant support of [the] school district and [his] generosity throughout the community."

Youngstown Pizza Reviews, a Mahoning Valley-based website also mourned the loss of Riccioni on its Facebook page.

"Growing up in Austintown, everyone knew who Fernando was. His pizza was as big of a part of my childhood as anything. Always there slinging masterclass pizza up until he could no longer physically do it. Fernando was as legendary as there ever will be in the Youngstown area," the post read.

Other members of the community offered their condolences and shared their memories of Riccioni and Wedgewood Pizza in the comments of the 21 News Facebook page.

"A true Valley legend. He will be greatly missed. Was always full of life when he was there," one person commenting said.

"[Riccioni] Told me once I tasted his pizza I would love it. Gave me two free pizza coupons and I was hooked from there on. Nice man," said another.

Fernando is being mourned not only in Austintown but also across our valley. To many people he was larger than life, and his dough, sauce and pizza combinations kept people coming back for more. 

Fernando's smiling face and huge personality prior to the pandemic could often be found working at the ovens at Wedgewood Pizza.

As he built the business he won award after award for tasty and unique pizzas. His pies have been a fan favorite on Superbowl Sunday's, holiday's and any day you wanted pizza.

"It was made with love. You could just tell he loved what he was doing and he was a presence there too. He would be at the counter, and ask you if you needed anything," Julie Dukes said.

Wedgewood Pizza was started out in a small corner of the building and over the years the business became so successful he bought out the other businesses and expanded.

Even democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and her husband former President Bill Clinton enjoyed Wedgewood Pizza while in town.

"It's a real loss not just to their family, although I'm sure they're grieving, but to the community he was an iconic figure that built a business just through his shear will and grit, David Betras former Mahoning Democratic Party Chairman said.

Fernando was a friend to the Austintown community, to people who were hungry, dance, baseball, football and softball teams. He also always helped First Responders. 

"Anytime the safety services or schools or civic groups needed pizzas for functions you could always call Fernando and he would always take care of you," Austintown Fire Chief Andrew Frost said.

Jim Davis said, "Fernando was a member of the Austintown Hall of Fame. He was a man who always did for others never wanting anything in return. Fernando gave generously to so many groups and organizations. He had a business card that he gave out. It was his calling card and it was for a free full size pizza. Who else would walk down a parade route when they're the Grand Marshal of the Fourth of July Parade passes out free coupons along the entire parade route but Fernando. He will be missed."

"Most people know that Fernando was an icon in the pizza business with Wedgewood Pizza. But he was so much more than that, he was a treasure to the valley and Austintown. When I was President of the Austintown Growth Foundation we held our meetings at Wedgewood Pizza. Fernando would sit with us and listen to us planning fundraisers to assist people and organizations in need. When our fundraising would run short Fernando would donate money or our bills would be paid. Fernando never wanted adulation or anyone to know what he did behind the scenes for so many people. Today we lost an amazing man with a heart of gold and a kind soul. Fernando will truly be missed," Mahoning Commissioner David Ditzler said. 

"So sad to hear this, he has left a legacy in our area. My heart goes out to his family. WE were lucky to have such a great family pizza established in our town," said Austintown Trustee Monica Deavers. 

Six hundred people posted on WFMJ's Facebook page in the first 30 minutes the story on Fernando was posted. Meanwhile thousands of people have been posting condolences and special memories about Fernando. 

Fernando was a friend to our WFMJ Newsroom. 

Fernando loved his community, and loved his family the most. 

"His presence will be missed. Thank goodness it's being passed onto the family. That's a good thing," Julie Dukes added.

Riccioni is survived by his daughters Adelina and Filomena, his son-in-law Mike, his grandson Michael, his granddaughters Jena and Gabriella and his nephew Rick who all work at his shop.

A statement from his grandkids reads as follows:

"Our grandpa brought kindness and loves into the lives of everyone he met. So many people, including all of us are better because we knew him. He was a perfect example of what it means to be a family man. He will be missed but his legacy will live on. Thank you to the Valley for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time."