OLEAN - Albert D. Cecchi, 89, passed away peacefully Friday (April 18, 2014). A loving husband, father and grandfather who led an exemplary life by putting God and family before everything else, Al was proud of the fact that he was able to operate multiple businesses over his career with his wife and children as his business partners. Al adored his four grandchildren and enjoyed all the activities in their lives that he could. His face would light up just by the mention of any of them.
Born July 27, 1924, in Clermont, Pa., he was a son of Domenic and Adelaide Martelluccci Cecchi and the youngest of four children. On Sept. 15, 1951, he married his beloved wife of 62 years Virginia Cooley, who survives.
Al was an avid supporter of the New York Yankees. He and Virginia went to Yankee Stadium for their honeymoon in 1951. 60 years later, they went back to Yankee Stadium to celebrate their anniversary with their children and grandchildren. He also enjoyed showing people his unused ticket to Game 5 of the 1956 World Series when Don Larsen threw his perfect game. He also played AAA Baseball with the Olean Platers.
After graduation from Olean High School in 1942, he joined the United States Marine Corps
and served for three and a half years in the Asian Pacific Theater and attained the rank of sergeant. He was a gunner on the Douglas Dauntles two-seat bomber. He served in the Air Wing of the Marines under Admiral Nimitz in conjunction with the United States Navy
. Al was very proud of his service to his country in the United States Marines.
After his discharge from the Corps, he attended St. Bonaventure University, and graduated in 1949 with a BBA in accounting. In 1951, he purchased one third interest in the Irwin Trosch News Agency, where he had worked while attending college. He purchased the remaining interest in the company in 1952 and the name was changed to Al Cecchi News Service.
Over the years, he purchased similar businesses in Bradford, Pa., Salamanca and Hornell. The business name was eventually changed to Cecchi News Agency Inc. He ran a successful business until he retired in 1997 after selling the company.
Al was very committed to his alma mater St. Bonaventure University. He served on the University Presidents Council, was elected president of his local alumni chapter, and worked as a class agent on Annual Fund Drives. Al was also the National Alumni president from 1966 to 1970.
His love of Bona basketball was well known, having been attending St. Bonaventure games since 1936 at the age of 12 when they were held in Butler Gym. He had been a season ticket holder since 1952. In 1962, Al gave the opening remarks at the Reilly Center dedication. Al also led a rally of thousands of fans at the corner of State and Union streets in Olean after the 1969-70 Final Four season. He is proud to have been good friends with Bob Lanier, Freddy Crawford and Sam and Tom Stith over the years.
In 2007 he was named Fan of the Year by the university. He was recognized by the university as the 2009 St. Bonaventure Alumnus of the Year, and was also given the Presidents 150th Anniversary award for accomplishments and contributions to the University.
He was also very committed to his community. He was honored by the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce with a Lifetime Achievement award in 2013, and the Good News award from the OBIA in the government category. He was a 26 year member of the Olean Urban Renewal Agency that impacted many major changes in downtown Olean over time.
He was a member of the board of directors of the Olean High School Alumni Association, serving as president and was on the board of directors for the First National Bank and later Manufacturers Hanover. He was a member and past officer of the Bartlett Country Club, along with being a former member of the American Legion and the Olean Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Knights of Columbus.
In addition to his wife he is survived by two children, Tina (Daniel) Stetz of Olean, and Ronald (Linda) Cecchi of Allegany; four grandchildren, Michael (Andrea) Stetz of Grand Prairie, Texas, Allison (Aaron Zecker) Stetz of Pittsburgh, Pa., Andrew Cecchi and Katelyn Cecchi, both of Allegany; and five nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by a sister, Margaret Cecchi; and two brothers, Allen Cecchi and Leo Cecchi.
Family will receive friends from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Monday (April 21, 2014), at the Guenther Funeral Home Inc., 1303 E. State St., Olean. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday (April 22, 2014), in St. Mary of the Angels Church. Father David Tourville will be celebrant. Burial will be in St. Bonaventure Cemetery, Allegany. A scripture wake service will be held in the funeral home Monday evening.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Bonaventure University, St. Mary of the Angels Church, or the Olean General Hospital.