Lewis Conrad Marra, 90, of Butler died Thursday morning in the comfort of his home.
Lewis Conrad Marra was a first generation American, born on July 30, 1923, in a farmhouse a few miles from Lake Ontario in Webster, N.Y. His parents were Michael A. Marra and Norma Sandfield Marra.
When he was very young, they moved to Butler and settled in a log house that was more than 100 years old on Herman Road. There, he attended Brinker School, a one-room, eight-grade school with one teacher.
In 1929, his father bought a 150-acre farm on Mercer Road in Center Township. There he attended St. Claire School, another one-room school. He said he would not trade his one-room education for all the consolidated schools in the country.
He graduated from Butler High School in 1941 and continued his education later in life by graduating from Butler County Community College with an associate degree in industrial management. He was also a certified instructor in Red Cross first aid and defensive driving.
He was self-taught to play the guitar and harmonica and played in a round-and-square dance band with his father. Under the directorship of Michael Dolan and the Sherwood School of Music, he studied voice, music, the Italian, French, and Russian languages and learned the tenor roles of many operas.
Growing up on a farm taught him many professions. From his father, he learned masonry and carpentry skills. From his grandfather, an electrical engineer with Westinghouse, he learned about electricity. He bought an electric welder and taught himself to weld.
Being on a farm also gave him many opportunities to work for other employers. After fall harvest, many farmers looked for other work. He worked for Olson Dairy, the Bantam Car Works, Pullman Standard and McDonald Plumbing and Heating.
For over 50 years, he volunteered his time helping his neighbors repair their tractors, mowers, snow blowers, and performing electrical work, plumbing and whatever else needed done.
He was the third partner in the Fre-Mar Corp., designing and building the equipment and tools to manufacture the tubeless tire repair product in Butler and Jamaica. He still holds the patents for the tools he developed.
He worked for seven years as assistant superintendent for the state Department of Highways and worked at Armco Steel for 23 years, retiring as its employee benefits administrator in 1988. While at Armco, he served on the state committee for Self-Insured Workman Compensation of Western PA, was chairman of the Blue Cross Advisory Program and also served on the Blue Cross Legislative Committee.
He served on the board of the Butler Area Sewer Authority for 20 years and the Armco Credit Union for 33 years. He was a member of the Butler Township zoning and hearing board, the Butler Township planning commission, the Butler Symphony board and was in charge of the Butler Area Junior Achievement program.
He received the 6th Degree of Flora and the 7th Degree of Ceres while a member of the Unionville Grange. He was a past Exalted Ruler of the Butler Elks and a member for 59 years. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army
and a member of St. Fidelis Church.
Lewis Marra will be remembered by many for his beautiful singing voice. He performed locally in countless Butler Musical Theatre Guild shows, as the troubadour in the Boars Head Festival, and as a soloist in churches and for weddings all across the United States. He performed for many functions of the Pittsburgh Opera and was a member of the Opera Production Committee. He and his wife, Edith, performed the first opera in Butler, "The Telephone," at the Butler County Community College. He was the founding member of the Marra Family Singers with his wife and two sons.
He liked springtime, working outside in his gardens, making things in his workshop, singing, reading, wine making and traveling. But, most of all, he loved being with his family.
He celebrated his 90th birthday on July 30, 2013, at the annual family vacation at Geneva on the Lake, Ohio, and with a ride in a B-17 airplane similar to the one in which he took aerial photographs while in the Army.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Edith (Miller) Marra; and his two sons, Michael and his wife, Kelly, and their two children, Azriella and Zacharias, and Lewis II (Chip) and his wife, Barbara, and their two children, Marissa and Alona. He is also survived by one sister, Iris Humphreys; several sisters- and brothers-in-law; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers.
It is believed he is now in the presence of the Lord enjoying happy hour.
MARRA - Friends of Lewis Conrad Marra, who died Thursday, June 12, 2014, will be received at the Geibel Funeral Home, 201 E. Cunningham St., Butler, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Fidelis Roman Catholic Church, 125 Buttercup Road, Meridian. The Rev. James Murphy, pastor, will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Butler County Humane Society, 1015 Evans City Road, Renfrew, PA 16053; the Butler County Symphony, 259 S. Main St., Butler, PA 16001; or the
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