Joseph P. Tassone, of Oro Valley, Arizona, formerly of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, died on Sept. 20. He was 94.
Mr. Tassone was born on Dec. 19, 1925 in New Geneva, Pennsylvania, to Anthony and Mary Grace (Valentine) Tassone.
At the age of seventeen, following his high school graduation, Mr. Tassone volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Forces. He served in the 449th Bomb Group (H-The Flying Horsemen), 717thSquadron. Mr. Tassone was activated from Tucson, Arizona and stationed in the Mediterranean theater of operations, Grottaglie Airfield, in southern Italy. Mr. Tassone served as a B-24 tail gunner and his primary aircraft was “Classy Chassis.” Many of the 449thBomb Group missions were flown over the most heavily defended targets in Europe including Bucharest, Vienna and Ploesti. The 449th received two Presidential Unit Citations and is one of the most distinguished and decorated combat units of World War II.
Following WWII, Mr. Tassone returned to southwestern Pennsylvania and began working as a miner in the coal fields. In the years that followed, he also operated several local coal mines with his uncles. Mr. Tassone purchased a local bar, the Green Lantern, which later became the Skylark. While tending bar, Mr. Tassone served locals and visitors alike, always enjoying the atmosphere and lively conversation. But the Skylark’s patrons were a catalyst for what was to come. They talked about a lot, but very often discussion landed on the high demand for coal and the problems many had in securing it. On the heels of the Arab oil embargo, two coal purchasers stopped into the Skylark. They struck up a conversation with Mr. Tassone and they were complaining about not being able to acquire enough coal. Mr. Tassone said that he could help them out. He asked for barges to haul the coal and had loaded them within days. When Mr. Tassone called the gentlemen to inform them that their delivery was ready, they were amazed. It was this deal that started a quarter century of coal deliveries. Mr. Tassone founded Gallatin Fuels, Inc. in the early 1970’s and served as its President and CEO until his death. Its coal reserves were throughout western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Most of the coal was loaded at Gallatin Fuels, Inc. coal terminal locations in Speers, Masontown, Grays Landing and Point Marion. Gallatin Fuels, Inc. also operated a coal-testing laboratory in Masontown, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Tassone was a member of St. Therese de Lisieux Roman Catholic Church. He received Papal Honors being named to the Order of St. Gregory the Great and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, one of the highest honors a layperson can attain. Mr. Tassone was widely recognized for his civic contributions and as a generous benefactor to many organizations including Geibel Catholic High School, the United Nations, Mt. St. Macrina, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the YMCA and Community Action.
Originally from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Mr. Tassone enjoyed spending time at his home in Oro Valley, Arizona, where he appreciated not only the warm weather, but the warm hospitality of Tucson. He never took the picturesque Santa Catalina mountains for granted, and, with the sun shining on his face, very often said, ‘Life doesn’t get any better than this.’
Despite achieving great success, Mr. Tassone was unassuming and lived a modest life filled with joy. He will be remembered for his warm smile, generosity and kindness. Rather than mourn his loss, his family hopes everyone will smile when they think of him. Joe wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Mr. Tassone was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters, Anna “Dolly' Fata, Mary J. Fedarko and Margaret Underwood.
Left to cherish his memory is his fiancée, Linda Kolosky, he is also survived by five nieces, Deborah Mrazek and husband, Bob; Connie Battaglia and husband, Tom; Rose Marie Gelotti and husband, Denny; Gloria Mihalik and husband, Gary; Joanne Rosinsky and husband, John; two nephews, David Underwood and Michael Underwood and several great nieces and great nephews.
The family would like to thank Twin Oaks Home Care and offer a special thanks to Patty, Alva, Rachel, Sue, Tammie, Haley, Paula, Luke and JR.
A private visitation will be held on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 from 2-7 p.m. at Terravecchia-Haky Home for Funerals, Inc., 71 Pennsylvania Avenue, Uniontown, Pennsylvania 15401. Prayers of Transfer will be said on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 at 9:15 a.m. A Funeral Mass will follow at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Therese de Lisieux Roman Catholic Church, 61 Mill Street, Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Entombment will follow in LaFayette Memorial Park, Brier Hill, Pennsylvania, where military honors will be accorded by the AMVETS Post 103 of Hopwood.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Dementia Society of America PO Box 600
During visitation and services, masks are suggested and social distancing will be followed per COVID-19 restrictions.