Harry was born in New Alexandria, Pa., to Carmine and Congetta Salandria, and raised in Farrell, the only male in a family with nine children. At 14 Harry acquired a job delivering coal to support his mother and eight sisters after the death of his father, thus beginning an affinity for big trucks that never ceased.
Harry soon met the love of his life, Louise, stole her heart, and declared on the day that he met her that he would make her his bride. That Harry did, marrying Louise in secret on Sept. 6, 1951, as Louise was enrolled in Homestead Hospital Nursing School where they forbade the students from attending betrothed. Harry, being the ladies man that he was, convinced Louise he was worth the risk.
Harry then traveled to Rhode Island with the Navy, serving his country during the Korean War by continuing to transport goods in the big trucks he adored. Upon his return to Pennsylvania, Harry and Louise settled far away from his hometown of Farrell, beginning their lives together all the way over in Sharon.
As they raised their three children, Harry continued operating those big trucks by making deliveries for Willson’s Furniture, moving families at Copey’s Moving Co., and eventually operating as a long-haul truck driver for Warner and Smith’s Trucking Co.
He had a fondness for travel, regaling family with stories of such far-away and exotic locations as Trenton, N.J., Buffalo, N.Y., and the mysterious land of Ottawa, Canada, to all of which he journeyed in his big rig. He could quickly recite from memory travel directions to nearly anywhere in the continental United States, shaming TripTiks in those days and recently making GPS units bow before him. Harry delighted in taking his young grandchildren on the long journey from their house to his – a full two blocks round trip.
Always a GM man, Harry purchased nothing but Oldsmobiles for his family. Due to his affinity for large trucks, however, he himself was not often seen driving anything less than a Chevy Suburban throughout the Shenango Valley. Recalling the exact mileage at which each engine died, he would scoff at any suggestion that at 175,000 miles his Suburban was a “high-mileage vehicle.”
A connoisseur of fine foods, Harry had a cultured palate for local eateries serving only the finest liver and onions, and would not hesitate in sharing that Arrow Garage and Husnick’s Auto Clinic brewed the finest gourmet coffee in town.
A wise financial planner, Harry insisted that those bringing him treats relay to each establishment that it was for their grandfather so they would receive his senior discount.
Active in his community and proud of his heritage, Harry was a member of the North Sharon Volunteer Fire Department, Teamster’s Local 261, the Italian American Club, and the Order of the Sons of Italy.
Known as a gentleman and a charmer to the end, it is rumored that during his last breath, Harry smiled and winked, calmly saying, “Okay. See you tomorrow, sweetie.”
Harry is survived by his children: Timothy Salandria and his wife Lisa, Hudson, Mass.; Ann Mergl; and Maria Rodgers and her husband Arthur “Bud,” all Sharon; his grandchildren, Attorney Ryan A. Mergl and his wife Brooke, Sharon; Scott Mergl and his wife Kim, Kings Park, N.Y.; and Kara Mergl, New York City; two great-grandchildren, Kendall and Taylor Mergl, Kings Park, N.Y.; five sisters, Josephine Caruso, Farrell; Millie Gondak, Fairless Hills, Pa.; Louise Kromka, Farrell; Sadie Valdizich, Hermitage; and Floretta Guanciale, Florida.
In addition to his parents, and his beautiful wife of more than 50 years, Louise, Harry was also preceded in death by three brothers, Patsy Salander, Steve Salander and Joe Salandria; and a sister, Margaret Crago.
Harry “Al,” 85, of Sharon.
Calling hours: In keeping with Harry’s wishes, there will be no calling hours. Friends and family may send condolences to www .mcgoniglefuneralhomeandcrematory.com
Funeral: Memorial Mass at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday (12-11-13) in Our Lady of Fatima-St. Ann Church, Farrell, with the Rev. Donald E. Berdis officiating.
Arrangements by J. BRADLEY McGONIGLE FUNERAL HOME and CREMATORY, 1090 E. State St. Sharon.