GIRARD, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – With great sadness, the Pagano family announces the passing of Sam F. Pagano, age 91, on Sunday, January 16, 2022 at the Hour of Angels. As he lived his life, he died on his own terms: with his mind fully intact, in the house that he built, with his sweetheart of 60 years and loving family by his side. 

Sam was born Salvadore Paolo Pagano on August 2, 1930 in Girard, a son of the late Joe and Mary Trina Pagano, immigrants from Roccalumera, Italy.

His strong work ethic began at a young age to support his family after losing his father at the age of three. His first official job was at the age of 14 in the United States Steel Mill Restaurant in 1944. He worked at both Sheet and Tube and the United States Steel Mill as a teenager during the war.

A lifelong Girard resident, he attended Girard High School. As a sophomore and while still working at the steel mill he was approached to play football by Girard’s head coach. Despite his late start to the sport and his other obligations, Sam was voted “Best Defensive Lineman” in 1947. Sam was voted senior class president and graduated from Girard High School in 1949. He credits his coach, Phil Koppel, for changing the course of his life by inspiring him to stay in high school. As class president, he, along with his committee, proudly organized a class reunion every five years for 70 years. 

After high school, Sam attended Kent State University on a football scholarship and as a freshman received “Outstanding Defenseman of the Year.” After an injury, he was forced to return to the steel mill. The following year, he joined the Youngstown College Penguins football team and played tackle under the great Dike Beede from 1952 through 1954. During his senior year, Sam also served as President of the “Varsity Y” Club and was the Army ROTC Battery Commander on campus. Sam received a BS in Business Administration at Youngstown College.

Following graduation, Sam fulfilled his ROTC obligation by serving as First Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in Germany for two years. 

While at Youngstown College, Sam met the “love of his life” Dahlia Vitucci, an educator and musician. They were married at St. Christine Church on September 23, 1961 and celebrated their 60th anniversary this year.

Following his military service, Sam commenced his true calling as an educator in Industrial Arts, teaching at Howland High School from 1959 through 1986.

Sam furthered his education by receiving his Master’s in Education for Industrial Arts from Kent State University in 1968. 

While at Howland High School, Sam created the first of his many inventions, a copyholder for typing books. He subsequently developed a number of book holders for educational purposes and has nine patents under his name. He sold the holders through several entities including Type-Rite Enterprises, Pagano Enterprises, Girard Development, Hold ‘N View and Love to Learn Enterprises, Inc. He and Dahlia traveled around the country promoting his products at educator conferences. 

Sam’s additional business endeavors with his brothers, Guy Pagano and Andrew Petrella, included Pagano Cleaners which operated from 1951 to 1963 and Hubbard Funland from 1963 through 1985. Hubbard Funland was a well-known local outdoor recreation facility that included miniature golf, driving range, fast pitch (the infamous Audi-Shine) and slow pitch batting cages and a game room. 

As a teacher for over 30 years and owner of Hubbard Funland, Sam had a profound impact on many teens in Mahoning and Trumbull County. He mentored and provided countless young people with valuable training for their future careers, stressing the importance of character, responsibility and work ethic. 

Sam was inducted into both the Girard High School Hall of Fame and the Youngstown State University Hall of Fame in 2002 for his outstanding athletic ability. He also received the Distinguished School of Technology Alumni Award at Kent State University in 2005.

Sam was elected to the Girard Board of Education and served from 1984 through 1988 in which he was instrumental in the eventual consolidation of Girard City Schools. He was Chairman of the Restoration of Girard High’s Arrowhead Stadium, where he served as foreman, offering his construction skills and free labor to the renovation project. 

In his retirement, Sam continued to “tinker” and build. He spent summer days in his garden and enjoyed making homemade wine, which he shared with his buddies every week until he passed. He continued to support and attend both Girard High School and Youngstown State University football games until the past year and remained active with his tight-knit, YSU football friends.

Sam is survived by his wife, Dahlia; his three children, Dr. Trina Pagano (Scott Conner), Lia (Dr. Gordon) Byrne and Dr. Paul (Nikki) Pagano; his six grandchildren, Sam (Tara), Karina, Francesca, Dante, Stella and Enzo and “kid-brother” Andrew (Millie) Petrella.

Besides his parents, his stepfather, Dominic Petrella; a brother, Guy Pagano; sister-in-law, Irene Pagano; stepbrother James Petrella and his wife, Dolores and a stepsister, Angeline Bevilacqua and her husband, Felix, preceded Sam in death.

Family and Friends may pay their respects from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., on Friday, January 21, 2022 at Kinnick Funeral Home, 222 S. State Street, Girard. Family and friends may gather again on Saturday, January 22, 2022 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the funeral home. 

Funeral services will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the funeral home on Saturday, January 22 and continue with a Mass of Christian Burial which will be celebrated at Noon at St. Rose Catholic Church, 48 E. Main Street, Girard.

Interment will follow at Girard Liberty Union Cemetery.

The family wishes to express their gratitude to Sam’s physician, Dr. Anthony Cassachia and the staff at Mercy Health Palliative Care for the kindness shown and care given to Sam.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in Sam’s honor to Girard City Schools for the Sam and Dahlia Pagano Penguin Scholarship Fund.

A television tribute will air Thursday, January 20 at the following approximate times: 6:43 a.m. on WYTV, 9:32 a.m. on WKBN, 10:58 a.m. on FOX and 8:12 p.m. on MyYTV.