Biasucci remembered as committed volunteer

Sam Biasucci

A message in Proverbs 20:6 is that most men will proclaim their own goodness to everyone, but who can find a faithful man?

Gayle Young referred to that Scripture, saying Lawrence County found that faithful man in Sam B. Biasucci, a longtime vital community servant who died Monday at age 87.

The Shenango Township resident left a legacy of volunteerism, including 45 years as a United Way volunteer and board member and 19 total years as member of the Shenango Area School Board.

Biasucci remained an active community servant to the end, sharing his wisdom and expertise with his fellow community leaders as recently as last week.

"Sam was my rock of Gibraltar," said Young, United Way executive director. Biasucci was on the committee that hired Young for her position 26 years ago, and she worked closely with him through the years.

"He was dedicated and loyal to this community," she said. "He was full of wisdom. He was my go-to about how to handle different issues. Sam was just such a good man."

Biasucci most recently attended the Shenango school board's reorganizational meeting on Dec. 8, and according to his friends and associates, one thing he always did was show up.

"He was a man of integrity," Shenango Area School District superintendent Dr. Mike Schreck said. "He committed his retirement life to giving back to the community."

Biasucci was chairman of the school board finance committee and served on its personnel committee.

"My heart is broken," fellow board member Denise Palkovich said Tuesday after learning of his passing. "Sam was a scholar and a gentleman. He taught you. He was the best. I had that close bond with him and learned so much from him."

From the time they started serving together, Palkovich, who has been on the Shenango school board for 14 years, befriended Sam and his wife, Joan.

"Where there was anything pertaining to the school, we always sat together," she said.

"He definitely brought a watchful eye to the district in terms of finances," Schreck said, adding, "On a personal level, I learned a great deal from him over the years, and will always be grateful for his service and dedication to the district. Even if he disagreed with you, he was still professional. He was one of a kind."

Biasucci in his later years never let his age stand in the way of his volunteering.

He once told the New Castle News, "I wouldn’t want to get up in the morning and think, ‘What am I going to do today?’”

County Commissioner Dan Vogler publicly eulogized the leader Tuesday, saying, "His passion became the community, and he served it in many, many aspects. It would probably take me at least half an hour to list every board he served on."

Young once had singled out Biasucci as United Way's longest-serving and hardest working volunteer. 

Biasucci, a retired banker, had worked 34 years for First National Bank, as a senior vice president and secretary to its board of directors. He retired in 1998 with perfect attendance. Early in his career, he managed the bank branch on Butler Avenue, then moved to the downtown office building front on East Washington Street where he became its personnel officer and was tasked with securing United Way contributions from bank employees. Hence, his affiliation with the agency.

He was past-president of the 25-member United Way board of directors and was a member of its executive committee, and he  also served as its campaign chairman.

Biasucci also served on the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation's board of directors and was recently its president, working closely with its director, Linda Nitch. Young pointed out that she and Nitch are not originally from New Castle, and "he taught us how to love this community and its people."

He joined the economic development board in 2004 and became its treasurer in 2005 and held that position many years. He was the board president from 2013 through 2017, and remained a member until Dec. 31, 2020, when his term expired. He chose not to be reappointed last month, Nitch said.

"Sam was always there," she said, giving her tips about bank charges and other financial matters.

She would often see him in church, at St. Joseph's, where she sang in the choir, and their paths also crossed as members of the Lawrence County Learning Center board of directors, of which he was president.

The center's contracts were administered through economic development and the Chamber of commerce. As Nitch walked  walking out of a learning center board meeting with him in November, he was talking about putting up his Christmas decorations. Just last week, he was on a Zoom call with her to talk about the board's next meeting, she said, noting, ""He was going into the hospital and couldn't make it to the meeting." 

She noted that for most of the organizations Biasucci served, he was its treasurer.

It's a real loss to this community," Nitch commented.He also was treasurere of Adult Literacy Lawrence County.

He became involved 20 years ago in Pennsylvania Business Week and had a passion for the youth-oriented program, called ACES -Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System. In Lawrence County, it  involves New Castle Area High School seniors taking a week off of school each year to be mentored by working in local companies.

Biasucci also was the secretary for the Lawrence County Historical Society. 

He had served on the Jack Butz Humanitarian committee since its inception, and he, himself, reluctantly but humbly received the Jack Butz Humanitarian award for 2018.

His wife, Joan, a retired second-grade teacher of 42 years in the New Castle Area School District, had classrooms in the former Rose Avenue and Thaddeus Stevens schools. Their son, Sam, lives in Sewickley.

"He had a loyalty to New Castle football (his alma mater) on Friday nights and Shenango on Saturday nights," Palkovich said.

"He had a real passion for education, he had a real passion for young people and he had a real passion for economic development of this community," Vogler commented, noting, "He was always well dressed. Even in his retirement, I never saw Sam without a suit and a tie.

"With his talents, he set a wonderful example that I think all of us should try to follow," Vogler concluded. "This county is very, very fortunate to have had him as a part of the community, and he will certainly be missed."

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