Tribute to Paul Sciria. November 3, 1928 - June 23, 2017

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Paul most of my 39 years of life as he was a friend of my fathers. His passing marks the coming of an end to an era of men who were respected for their hard work and dedication to their family. In today’s society things are different. Men like that are few and far between. Men like Paul who embraced the Italian American community, becoming a spokesman, but never losing sight of where they came from, or his roots as I would say. Paul left a mark in this world, and not many can say that, and he will forever be remembered for his sense of humor, uplifting spirit, and considered a true man by definition. I have a son who was born with medical problems, and Paul never failed to ask me how my son was doing every time he saw me. That right there describes the man we will all miss.
Anthony Panzarella
Director of Recruiting and Operations

Whether he was calling to sell an ad, book one of his clients for a speaking engagement with the Solon Italian Club – or just curious about Giovanni’s singing career, the unmistakable gravely voice on the other end of the phone always brought a smile to my face. “This is Paul Angelo Sciria speaking. Is this Father Castiglione?” You see, we had a running joke about our stations in life. He was always “Monsignor Sciria” to me, a reminder of his chronological seniority as well as the vastly greater experience he possessed. I never wondered. He was always quick to remind me. Every conversation with Paul was educational. He was a walking encyclopedia of everything Italian and Italian American. He had an opinion about everything – sometimes spoken, but always obvious by his facial expressions. He wore his heart on his sleeve – and his heart belonged to his family, his Italian-American heritage and the community he loved and served. His passion for his heritage and skills and devotion as a journalist were some of his greatest gifts to us. God bless you, Paul Angelo Sciria. You are loved and will be missed!
Dennis Castiglione

For 10 years we have hosted what we call the Magnum Holiday Party at a local Chinese restaurant and invite an eclectic group of friends. Paul, of course, was always invited. He gravitated to the media table with old TV friends like Bob Cerminara, Ralph Tarsitano, Tim Taylor, Sandy Lesko and others. The rest of the guests loved hearing the stories from Cleveland’s premier investigative reporter and Paul loved to share them.
In the photo are Tim Ryan, Paul Sciria, Nacy Panzica and Ralph Tarsitano. They joked that with their height, or lack of it, they should form a basketball team.
Paul Sciria was inducted into the inaugural class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2010. Since then, several others of Italian heritage have been inducted (Nacy Panzica, Bishop Pilla and Basil Russo) but Paul was the first. He was introduced by Umberto Fedeli. Paul was humble about receiving the award (“there are a lot better Italians than me that should go in”) and he used his induction speech to praise the contributions of Italian Americans in Cleveland.”
Dan Hanson

“Paul Sciria, or Uncle Paul as we know him, could light up a room just by walking in. He was larger than life, captivating every audience with his stories and humor. Even through his successes and accolades, Uncle Paul was humble, kind, and put his family first. He loved little ones, and always had a special place in his heart for them, even during his busiest day, the Columbus Day Parade. He took a special moment to kiss his great-great nephew in this picture. He will be deeply missed by all those who knew him. Cleveland lost a great legend with his passing.
Kate LaMarca

My fondest memories of Paul are from my “Buon Natale” parties on Christmas Eve day that I have been putting on for over 30 years. Paul would attend with his nephew Jim LaMarca. Being a “men only” event, all the “Paisans” would look forward to all the wonderful stories he would share each year. We all have lost a wonderful individual that truly embraced his Italian Heritage.
Larry DiBartolomeo

I first met Paul prior to the Columbus Day Parade moving to Little Italy. Paul had convinced me that our Club should participate in the Parade, so we did end up marching in the Parade. We decided to purchase “bocce ball keychains” to throw out to the crowd, and we had an abundance of them! Paul comes up to me and says, “Latessa, most everyone throws candy – not bocce ball keychains!” He said I hope these kids don’t need the bocce ball keychains!
After the Parade, we got together at the Italian-American Brotherhood Club and sat down and talked about how great the Parade was and about the Wickliffe Italian-American Club’s participation going forward. Paul had a real interest in fresh produce, so when I told him I was in the produce business as a buyer, he started calling me up and start off by saying, “Latessa, what’s good in the produce section this week at Marc’s?” He would call me any time of day and ask me about specific fruits and vegetables in the produce department. He loved to go to the Market, especially Sum Plum Market in Willoughby Hills Sweetberry’s in Wickliffe, and of course to Marc’s since he knew I did the ordering. He just loved and enjoyed eating fresh produce, but I’ll tell you, if he bought something from Marc’s and it wasn’t up to his standards, he would sure let me know….and I mean he would let me know!
We’ve asked Paul for the last 4 – 5 years to be our MC at the Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce Tournament in August. He enjoyed the limelight, hosting the Italian Cultural activities that we put on during the weekend. The first year he was to be our MC, he didn’t show up until 30 minutes after the program was supposed to start! So the next year, he asked when do I have to be there for the tournament to be MC? I said, “Paul, I would like you here Friday night and we will put you up in a hotel so you’ll be here on time for Saturday because you don’t have a cell phone I can call you on!”
We shared a lot of good times with Paul Sciria. He was always welcomed at our Club as a guest for any dinner or any fundraiser that we had, and he always came there with a smile on his face and a lot of stories! I will truly honestly miss this man, as every time he called he would just light me up and make me smile. I’m going to miss the phone calls that always went like this: “Latessa?” “Sciria?” Rest in peace my friend.
Gino Latessa

Paul Angelo Sciria was truly a genuine, loving, fun person and I already miss him very much. Paul was one of the first people I met in the Italian American community when I started the job as Curator for Italian American History over 10 years ago. Paul came across as “one of the guys from the neighborhood,” which, in his case, was Kinsman. He had a way of making you feel like you knew him for years, easily developing a rapport with him. Paul liked to call me by my maiden name, “Hey Dorazio!” Being with him was like being with a Hollywood celebrity. Everyone knew him and wanted to say hello.
It took only a few minutes during that first meeting for me to know what the loves of Paul’s life were… his wife, Franca, Ohio State, and Italians. You could probably throw ‘dolce’ in there, too, as that came up in conversation quite a bit! Paul did so many amazing things in his life. But, he didn’t brag, he told fun and interesting stories. I remember one story about his days as an investigative reporter. Visiting a crime scene with police officers, Paul found a discarded crowbar and excitedly directed the police to it thinking he found the murder weapon. The police kindly said to him, “Mr. Sciria, the murder weapon was a gun.”
Pamela Dorazio Dean

There may be no one we’ll encounter in our lives who was prouder of his Italian heritage than Paul Sciria. He devoted his life to sharing his passion for everything Italian with the world. He and I had many meetings over the years to talk about “La Gazzetta Italiana” and my contributions to the newspaper. Every time we met he’d pick my brains about the country, knowing my knowledge of Bella Italia. He could never get enough. And he always had many, many stories of his own to share. A planned 30 minute meeting always stretched for hours, just chatting about the need to get the word out and share what we know. It was a privilege to be his friend. His passion was contagious and his devotion to the community was obvious – and is his legacy to us all.
Peter D’Attoma
President DaVinci Custom Travel & Tours

I recall one telephone conversation with Paul Sciria. It was early in my relationship as a contributing writing for La Gazzetta. I wanted to know if an article on Youngstown’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica, where I was baptized, would be something the paper would want me to cover. Paul was enthusiastic. “Yes, cover the Basilica!” he encouraged me. He knew the pastor and the importance of that Italian congregation. In our short phone chat that day, Paul convinced me that he was familiar with Youngstown and relished the personal contacts he had made there over the years.
Paul represented a quality of La Gazzetta that has won and kept readers. Namely, the Italian story is built on more than just facts. The countless links that connect us with each other are just as - maybe even more - important.
Ben Lariccia

“You got it!” A favorite phrase of Paul’s that usually ended our conversations and was repeated in our last communication a few weeks ago. My personal beginning with Paul Sciria began before I really knew him well. An acquaintance of his had told him I was living and working in Rome, Italy so Paul requested articles for his newspaper La Gazzetta Italiana. I frequently sent him interviews from Venice, Rome and Florence. A closer friendship with Paul began 10 years ago with my involvement in our community’s cultural monument to Italy, the Italian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. Paul was one of the first people I met with to discuss a plan for engaging the Italian community as many of whom, including myself, never knew it existed. He embraced my desire to begin its large restoration and graciously offered his help - which he gave frequently. Paul Sciria was one of those special individuals who was always honest, kind and forthright and garnered much praise in his long career. He also took life’s tumbles with a sageness and, though he encountered moments in his life when some might fully realize how sagacious he really was, he continued giving 100 percent. In my ensuing times of difficulty or frustration, he was my father confessor ending with: “Joycie, what are you going to do? Don’t pay attention to them, just keep doing what you’re doing and it will work out.” And it did. He was a great comfort and a wise man freely sharing his wisdom and experience in life. His shoulder was always there. I’ve always had a theory that people are born with a kind soul. Paul was blessed that way. Each of us has our own spiritual path to walk, some more difficult than others. Paul was an example of strength for me in so many ways. For that, I was blessed to know him. Grazie di cuore, Paul.
Joyce Mariani
Italian Cultural Garden Foundation, Cleveland Italian Film Festival

It seems so odd to speak of Paul Sciria in the past tense. It also seems so sad that I’ll never hear that gravel-voiced greeting of “SCIRIA” when I dial his number. Yes, by all accounts, Paul Sciria was perhaps “diminutive” in stature, but he was, in my humble opinion, a “Giant” of a Man. I only knew Paul personally for the last 15 years or so, but it seemed that every time I had the good fortune of chatting with him, I was in for an adventure. He was never at a loss for colorful anecdotes or sage advice. My knowledge of him, however, goes much farther back in time, perhaps sometime around the late 1970s or early ‘80s, as I can remember on one of those many summer rides through the back roads of Chesterland, while sitting with my younger brother and sister in the backseat of my father’s car heading out to Guido’s Pizza or the Croatian Center, my parents pointing out and saying, “Quella é la casa di Sciria” (That’s Sciria’s house); as we would drive by this stately and well-kept looking home located on the north side of a larger-sized east-west country road, whose name escapes me at the moment. A short time later I would hear about this fledgling regional Italian American newspaper called La Gazzetta Italiana that was about to make its debut in the early ‘90s. One of the founders was this Sciria fellow that my parents would occasionally talk about. I wondered if my burgeoning knowledge of Italian music, which had begun picking up some steam around that same time, might be of interest to Paul and the readers of his newspaper. I submitted separate articles of two of the most notable Italian contemporary musical artists I could think of, Mina and Adriano Celentano, for his review and consideration. Much to my surprise, the articles would each make their way into mid-2000 editions of the growing periodical. My guess is that Paul was pleased. After a brief discussion with Paul about expanding my role in the local Italian music scene and with his positive encouragement, I decided not only to continue writing and submitting music articles for the tabloid, but also launch my own little enterprise as I began a side business selling Italian music CD’s at local Italian retail establishments and then christening the area’s newest Italian radio program. In our brief but pleasant encounters over the course of the next 10 years or so, we would always greet each other with a warm and hearty hug. It was then that I would learn first-hand of his exploits as the area’s first television “street” news reporter. I marveled at his escapades and learned to appreciate what a true jewel he was to our local Italian community. I know the years that followed his wife’s passing were difficult for him and after a stint on the Mayfield Heights city council where I live, he had decided to spend his remaining years immersing himself with his garden and his pride and joy of a newspaper that was now expanding beyond the local confines and growing into a respectable regional publication. Paul packed a great amount of experiences into his 88 years on this earth and those who were fortunate enough to have met him, are all the better for it. Until we meet again, “a presto Paoluccio”!
Tony Marotta

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Paul for 3 years at La Gazzetta, side-by-side as he represented the Italian American community of Northeast Ohio. He knew authentic stories and characters and recipes and traditions of Cleveland and I enjoyed learning through the years with him as I tried to add a more contemporary Italian, a younger touch to LG. I think our relationship was a great balance and I will always cherish those moments fondly and be thankful for his lessons and contribution to my writing/editorial career. Lastly, although I never met his wife in person, her name was also Francesca and through his stories of her - and the sparkle in his eyes every time he mentioned her - everyone felt as though they had met her and shared their memories of Pesco Costanzo and Abbruzzi. You will be missed Signor Paolo. Grazie.
Francesco Mignosa

The loves of Paul’s life, in this order, were: 1. his family, 2. being Italian and 3. Ohio State. If anyone really wanted to piss off the Old Man, all they had to do was bad rap any one of those subjects. Paul knew everyone in Cleveland and everyone knew him. I am sure he could have gone in many directions in his younger days, but Paul chose the right path instead of the wrong side of the street. He absolutely was a very honorable person. He will be remembered as a one of a kind, a stand-up man and the creme da la creme.
Marty Iacampo Sr.

I go back to 1969 with Paul. I was a pre-law school clerk for a small law firm and he was a news beat reporter for Channel 3. The partner of the firm, Nick Mandanici, was an old friend of Paul’s and I got to meet him and even work with him on some publicity matters. Biggest heart, biggest spirit; he had more energy than guys half his age. God Bless him!
Michael Occhionero

Paul Sciria was a neighbor of ours for many years and we looked forward every day to his antics and stories he had to tell. He was always stopping by with a handful of food, wine or the paper to share with us. He was part of our “adopted family “ and will truly be missed and remembered always! Salute dear friend!
Diane Argie Long & David Lanese

My thoughts are how devoted and supportive he was to all things Italian Sons & Daughters of America. He promoted whatever we needed promoted. One standout memory is the way he either answered the phone or announced who he was when calling: “PAUL ANGELO SCIRIA HERE” in his unforgettable strong voice. I know it’s not much but it’s something. We lost a great man.
Marie & Joe Frank

I worked with Paul for several years at La Gazzetta Italiana. So when I think of him, I think of a man who had the utmost respect for Italians and the Italian culture. I think of his booming voice on the other end of the phone, answering calls with a boisterous “Sciria!” instead of simply questioning “Hello?”
When I think of Sciria I think of his undying love for his “beautiful wife,” as he always called her, and the tulips he cared for every spring in her honor. I think of his beloved OSU Buckeyes. I think of his dedication to La Gazzetta Italiana and its readers and the countless articles he would write each month. I also think of preparing myself for an earful from him at the close of every issue when he’d find out that there just wasn’t enough room in the paper for all of them.
When I think of Sciria I think of his passion for a good coconut bar. I think of his traditional values and how he always said, “Ladies never drink beer from the bottle.” And every time I am offered a glass for my beer now, I say yes.
When I think of Sciria I think of a caring and faithful man with a sarcastic, stubborn twist. I think of his surprise 80th birthday party and all of the people that cared so much about him that showed up to wish him a happy birthday. He truly was loved.
Paul Sciria was a journalist and a storyteller. I will be sure to hold on to what I learned from him during the time I spent at La Gazzetta.
Sciria, you’ve cleared third and now you’re home. You will be missed.
Lia Serpico