Pia, Anthony J.
Retired U.S. Army
Col. Anthony J. Pia, 93, of Fairfield, Conn., and beloved husband of the late Rose Marie Pia, passed away on November 7, 2013. He will be remembered by his children, Lynn Taylor and her husband, Jeff, of Fairfield; Brian and Andrea Pia of Birmingham, Ala.; Richard and Ann Pia of Fayetteville, N.C., three grandchildren, seven great grandchildren; his sister, Fran Pia of Stamford, as well as close nephews and nieces Michael and Carol Santelle of Naples, Fla., Joey and Pat Santelle of Wilmington, N.C., Cliff and Cheryl Pia of Carlsbad, Calif., and a host of other relatives and friends. His brother, Al, passed away in 2008. "Tony" Pia led an active lifestyle that included swimming, weightlifting, as well as daily jogs and walks with his dogs at Fairfield University. He was even a Connecticut Senior Olympics champion. Pia was an avid reader, attended Mass each day at Fairfield University, and cheered for the UConn women's basketball team, New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers and his beloved alma mater - the University of California Golden Bears. He surrounded himself with friends and family and took great pride in raising eight dogs, including a family of five Bichon Frises. During his retirement, Pia wrote an award-winning play, "Inferno," under the pseudonym "Anthony Giacomo." The drama, about the murder trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti during the 1920s, won the prestigious Moss Heart Memorial Award (1987) and the John Gassner New Script Award (1986). His brother, Al, who was the Kewskin Sterling Barn Theater artistic director, directed the play - but he only learned after opening night that Tony actually wrote it. During his business and academic career, Pia ran a consulting company, headed international marketing at Sikorsky Aircraft and was assistant director of the Fairfield University communications school. He was also active in state and local politics. Pia devoted much of his life to the military. Pia wrote several books on military propaganda and lectured at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. - the "Intellectual Center of the Army." He also served as a special advisor during the Vietnam War
and was a psychological operations officer in the U.S. Army Reserves. In the early 1960's, Pia was Special Assistant to the Commandant and Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Army's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He worked directly for Lt. General William P. Yarborough during the creation of the U.S. Special Forces. Pia was a cultural affairs officer with the State Department's United States Information Agency in Burma (now Myanmar), where he introduced modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, tennis champion Althea Gibson, as well as author and political activist Helen Keller to the Burmese people. He also served as propaganda planning officer during the Korean War
, Chief of Denazification in Vienna, Austria following World War II
, and fought for the U.S Army during that war. Pia left PhD studies at Columbia University in New York to serve in Korea. He earned his masters and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Tony Pia was born in Stamford, Conn., to Guido and Michelina Pia on July 25, 1920. His parents arrived at Ellis Island, N.Y., from Settefrati, Italy - just six months before he was born. His Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday at 9:15 a.m in the Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road in Fairfield Center and 10:00 a.m., at the St. Pius X Parish, 834 Brookside Drive in Fairfield. Interment will follow with full military honors at the Oak Lawn Cemetery, 1530 Bronson Road in Fairfield. Calling hours will be held on Thursday from 4-8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Connecticut Humane Society, cthumane.org
. For travel directions or to sign his online guest register, please visit www.LeskoPolkeFuneralHome.com