World War II vet awarded for great courage

October 2, 2018

World War II veteran Dominic Gavatorta, formerly of Harrison City, won the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts among several medals -- a testimony to the courage of one member of the “Greatest Generation.”

“He was wounded a number of times, but he went back into combat. He never stopped,” said Mary C. Kiley, his former daughter-in-law. She and her daughter, Jennifer Gavatorta of Greensburg, served as his caregivers for many years.

Mr. Dominic B. Gavatorta, a resident of Redstone Highlands, Greensburg, died Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. He was 95.

He was born June 9, 1923, in Burgettstown, the son of the late George and Lucia Calvino Gavatorta.

He moved to the Jeannette area as a youngster after the family’s Burgettstown home burned down. He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and fought in Normandy, in the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-45 and in Germany, Kiley said.

Mr. Gavatorta met his future wife, Yolanda Avolio, when he returned home. The couple married in 1947. They remained married until her death in 1996.

He served as a deliveryman for Jeannette Importing Co., taking food to places in Jeannette and Penn Township, Kiley said. He managed the Levin Furniture Store in Jeannette and then Matt’s Furniture Store, which occupied the same building on Clay Avenue when Jeannette bustled, Kiley said.

Mr. Gavatorta was a member of the M&S Club and the Italian Club, both of Jeannette.

“He took care of the bocce lawns. They took it (the game of bocce) seriously,” said Jennifer Gavatorta.

For the past seven years, he lived at Redstone Highlands. While he did not talk much to his family about his experiences in the Army, Kiley said when he was in the company of other veterans at Redstone Highlands, “they would share their memories” of those war years.

“It was an honor and privilege to be with him ... to be able to help him. Those are really good memories,” Kiley said.

Surviving are his son, Gary and his wife, Rudy, of Atlanta; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Friends were received at the John V. Graziano Funeral Home Inc., 228 N. Second St., Jeannette. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Sacred Heart Church, Jeannette. Entombment with military honors accorded by the Jeannette Combined Veterans will follow in Westmoreland County Memorial Park Mausoleum, Hempfield.

Memorials may be made to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 4401 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224, or Redstone Highlands Retirement Community, 6 Garden Center, Greensburg, PA 15601.

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