YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Rocco Lawrence Modarelli, 92, of Youngstown, passed away peacefully Friday, February 24, 2023 after a long journey with dementia.
Rocco “Rocky” was born August 9, 1930 at his Brier Hill home on Poplar Street. He was one of ten children of Italian immigrants Eudigio and Caroline Modarelli, who came to America from Foggia, Italy.
On September 15, 1956 Rocky married the former Evelyn Murphy from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. They made their home in Brier Hill, welcoming their only daughter, Roxanne, three years later. They later relocated to the south side of Youngstown, where they resided for over 50 years in the home Rocky’s brother, DeeDee, built.
Rocky is a Korean War veteran who served his country proudly.
After the army, Rocky worked as a brick layer, then taking a position at Youngstown Steel Door where he worked until his retirement.
Rocky loved all things Italian. He was proud of his Italian heritage, proud to be from Brier Hill, and was a proud to be a part of the Brier Hill Italian festival for over 20 years, being named man of the year in 2014, an award he was so honored to receive. Rocky wanted to ensure the family’s Italian traditions would continue for many years to come, he did this through the sharing of his favorite Italian music, food and celebrations, with his family.
Rocky had many hobbies and interests throughout his years. He loved carpentry, golfing, working in the yard, cooking, drinking wine and playing cards, Thirty-One in particular. His favorite past time of all was spending summers at his home in Geneva-on-the-Lake, where he spent his time enjoying friends at the High Tide, Joe’s Place and the Eagles Club. He was quite the popular guy around the Geneva Strip, which is not surprising as a stranger was always a friend and friends were family to Rocky. Family was everything to Rocky. He spent the later years of his life as a devoted and loving grandfather to Danielle and Kevin, later expanding his love with the addition of Kevin’s son, Leo and Danielle’s husband, Jeff. His favorite day of the week became Wednesday, when all of his kids would come to his home for dinner, wine and card playing. There wasn’t a Wednesday dinner where the kitchen on Dewey Avenue was not full of laughter from Rock’s famous one liners and hilarious stories.
Rocky leaves to cherish his memory, his loving daughter, Roxanne (Danny Baran) Miller, who ensured his comfort and peace in his finals days. His beloved grandchildren, Kevin Miller and Danielle (Jeff Breckner) Miller and his great-grandson, Leo, who will hold in their hearts all the wonderful memories of him that were made throughout the years; his partner of many years, Donna Joles; his best pal, Jasper, who was always watching over him; his lifelong friend, Kenny, who through all of life’s obstacles was by his side, making him laugh; his sister, Katherine (Frank) D’Apolito; brother, Gene (Janet Hutzel) Modarelli and his many nieces and nephews.
Rocky was preceded in death by his wife, Evelyn; his parents, Caroline and Eudigio; his brothers, Nicky, Joey, Tony, Johnny and Dominic “DeeDee” and sisters, Mary Lou and Rosie.
Rocky loved life and loved living. He spread that love to everyone he met through laughter and kindness. He looked at everyday of his 92 years as a party, a day worth living, enjoying all things of what life has to offer. He valued family, people and experiences over anything else in the world, and with that he had a life well lived.
As most people would know, Rocky would not be saying, “good-bye” in this moment, instead he would say, “If I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the window”.
Rocky’s family has decided to honor his wishes and not hold a service or calling hours, however, if you would like to honor and remember Rocky, pour yourself a glass of wine or beverage of choice, raise your glass and toast to the beautiful life that was Rocky Modarelli’s by reciting his famous toast that he said at every meal, “May you live forever and I never die.”
A special thank you to the nurses, aides and all staff members of Greenbriar Nursing Home. You brought love and joy to Rocky in the final days of his life’s journey and all of you held a special place in his heart for the wonderful care you provided him.
Arrangements have been trusted to the professional care of the Rossi & Santucci Funeral Home, 4221 Market Street, Boardman. Family and friends may visit rossisantuccifh.com to send condolences Rocky’s family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rocco L. “Rocky” Modarelli, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Monday, March 6 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.