Mario J.'s Story
Mario J Pirastru, 88 of Niagara Falls NY, passed away on July 7, 2017 surrounded by his loving family. Born in Niagara Falls on April 4, 1929, Mr. Pirastru was the son of Luigi and Giovanna (Ghera) Pirastru. Mario attended local schools and graduated from Trott Vocational High School in 1947.
Mario served in the United States Army in the Medical Company of the 135th Infantry Division as a Medic from 1951-53. Mario as a Corporal served in Alabama and Alaska during the Korean War. Returning from the War, he and his beloved wife Marie S. Ferro were married on August 8, 1953 in St. Josephs Roman Catholic Church.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Mario worked as a bricklayer. Beginning in 1947, Mario worked as a bricklayer in the Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Union Local 3-NY, serving as union president from 1963 to 1988.
First elected as a Democratic Committeeman in 1953 in the old 9th Ward, Mario was elected to the Niagara County Democratic Executive Board in 1955. Mario and his wife Marie played a major role in helping the Democratic Party become the majority party throughout the County of Niagara.
During the 1960s Mario was appointed Deputy Parks Director of the City of Niagara Falls, eventually promoted to the position of City Parks Director.
In 1976 Governor Hugh Carey named Mario Regional Director of the Niagara Frontier State Parks. The Niagara Frontier Region included ten parks in Western New York, among them the Niagara Reservation, the oldest State Park in America. Governor Cuomo expanded Marios responsibilities to include the Genesee and Allegany Regions. Committed to the community he loved, Mario served on the Board of Directors of the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Niagara Falls Beautification Committee, the Festival of Lights, S.P.U.R , the International Illumination Board, Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club, Memorial Hospital, the Knights of Columbus and the Cristoforo Columbo Society.
The most recent Niagara County native to serve in the capacity of Western District Parks Director. Mario committed to the development of a Master Plan for the Western District of the New York State Park system. Marios accomplishments are highlighted by the $14 million dollar redevelopment program in Prospect Park. These enhancements included the construction of the Orin Lehman Visitor Center, the design and landscaping of the Great Lakes Gardens and the location of the first 70mm special effects Showscan theatre in New York State. Marios vision which resulted in the lighting of the upper American Rapids drew raves from around the world and remains a tribute to Marios legacy.
Committed to sharing his parks with people from every corner of the world Mario welcomed celebrities and media throughout his career. Mario hosted the entertainment industry in the name of giving Niagara Falls to the world. From television to the motion picture industry, from music to theatre, Mario knew Niagara was a gift to be shared with all people. Whether it was the Illusionist David Copperfield, actor Burt Reynolds or pop music icon Gloria Estefan, Marios doors were always open. The countless number of productions included General Hospital, Canadian Bacon, Good Morning America, The Today Show, David Letterman and the international broadcast of Bon Jovi live from the brink of the American Falls.
In his retirement Mario enjoyed Major League sports, an avid fan of the Buffalo Bills and New York Yankees. Up until his final days Mario enjoyed golf, bocce, cooking, gardening, breakfast with friends at Marketside but most of all attending his grandchildrens sporting events.
Devoted to his family and extended family, even remaining in touch with his cousins in Sardinia, Italy; Mario deeply treasured the value of family. As a father, grandfather and great-grandfather Mario loved his family more than life itself.
In addition to his wife of 53 years, Mario is survived by his 2 daughters, Michele Pirastru DAngelo and Marisa (Sam) Gara, predeceased by a Son, Mario L. Pirastru, survived by 5 grandchildren, Mario Pirastru, Nicholas Pirastru, Cara DAngelo, Joseph DAngelo and Alyssa Gara, 1 great-grandson, Vincent Joseph DAngelo, daughter-in-law, Celia, 1 brother Louis (Marilyn) Pirastru, predeceased by 1 sister, Joan (late Henry) Monti, survived by sisters-in-law, Frances Dye and Corky Ferro, predeceased by sisters-in-law, Alma DElia and Josephine Bonura, predeceased by brothers-in-law, Joseph Governatori and Sam Ferro and also survived by several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday July 11th from 3-8 p.m. at M.J. COLUCCI & SON NIAGARA FUNERAL CHAPEL, 2730 MILITARY ROAD, NIAGARA FALLS, NY. Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday July 12th at 10:00 a.m. in Holy Family Parish at the St. Josephs Church Site, 1401 Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY. EVERYONE PLEASE ASSEMBLE AT CHURCH. Entombment will follow in St. Josephs Cemetery with Military Honors. In lieu of flowers, memorials to a charity of ones choice. Visit www.mjcoluccifuneralchapel.com for guest register.
Published on July 9, 2017