Alvin Conti (1920 - 2016)

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Alvin Conti, 95, died on Jan. 23, 2016, at the DuBois Nursing Home.

First, the Conti family would like to thank the DuBois Continuum of Care Community for tending to our father during the past eight years. He lived at The DuBois Village for six years before transferring to Memory Lane in the DuBois Nursing Home for two years. During those eight years, Alvin enjoyed the company of fellow WWII veterans and other impressive residents, most who hailed from the Greatest Generation. However, the people who work at DuBois CCC are the ones who made his time there special and memorable. From the compassionate, patient women who tended him daily, to the medical staff who watched over him, to those who keep the place running while brightening each day, and especially to the administrators who worked closely with the family, even in the most difficult times, all helped Alvin live a life of dignity, enjoyment, comfort and richness. Although Alvin was a contrarian by nature, and he proved to be a most challenging resident, everyone at the Village and Nursing Home showered him with love, attention and blessed care. We cannot exaggerate our appreciation.

Born Alvino Guido Conti to immigrant parents on March 11, 1920, Alvin was raised in Arnold, Pa., before entering the Army Air Force in 1942. Alvin married Irene Korchnak before shipping overseas, and remained her husband until her passing in 2005. While he was a crew chief for the P-51 Mustang fighter planes of the 355th Fighter Group, Alvin's squadrons were instrumental in providing long-distance bomber protection for missions from England to Germany. The 355th played major roles in the air war known as The Battle of Britain. The Mustangs also flew support for D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Landing on Omaha Beach just days after the invasion, Alvin lived on the cliffs of Normandy and in St. Lo for months, keeping the Mustangs in the air for the Allies. Meanwhile, his brother Ettore flew 48 solo missions over the Alps into Germany, in an A-26 attack bomber. After the war, both Alvin and Ettore enjoyed long careers as machinists at Alcoa in New Kensington. A highlight of Al's later life came during a visit to the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC, in 2004, at age 84, when he was humbly surprised to be treated as a celebrity.

Alvin was happiest listening to opera and symphonies while sipping several glasses of zinfandel; he also enjoyed singing in his church choir, bowling and following Pittsburgh sports. An iconoclast, avid reader and close follower of politics, Alvin remained a well-informed liberal Democrat all his life, and he loved nothing more than to engage those who would benefit from his perspective.

In the Springdale home he built with his father, who was a bricklayer, Alvin, with Irene, raised four children, who survive: Roger, of Rogersville, Tenn.; Christine, of Punxsutawney; Neil, of Luthersburg; and Philip, of Springdale, Pa. Alvin was preceded in death by sisters Mary Torkeo, Natalie Mazza and Johanina Graziano, as well as his brother Babe (Ettore).
Published in The Courier Express on Jan. 26, 2016
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