By Nathan Traini
Staff Writer and Reporter
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – Alfred E. Cecchetti passed away at Sunnyview Nursing Home in Butler on Saturday, September 3, 2016, at 90 years old. To reach the age of 90 is an achievement many of us will never know. Alfred E. Cecchetti saw himself reach that age, but his age was far from his greatest accomplishments.
A man can only do things for a long time if he has passion for them and if those things fulfill him; from a young age providing for his family was and continued to be the fulfilling factor that drove Alfred to learn and do things that others might find too hard. A kid growing up in Arnold with a time when in that .8 square mile city held 10,575 inhabitants, Mr. Cecchetti sold fruits and vegetables he and his family grew to help support his seven siblings.
Growing up and in school he found he was left handed. Due to the religious climate he grew up with nuns, they would hit any kid that was using their left hand, thinking left handedness was the work of the devil. This resulted in Mr. Cecchetti becoming ambidextrous, which would help him develop his artistic skill later in life.
This all according to Mr. Cecchetti’s granddaughter and art student Korina Cecchetti whom I met with in Donut Connection to discuss her grandfather’s legacy.
When World War II came to a head Alfred was in the midst of finishing high school. He left, to fight in the army for the souls lost in Pearl Harbor, the freedom of his country, and the world. He was placed in the “39th Infantry Division as the 1st Scout,” says Korina. This meant that he would see first hand the leading edge of the allied march toward Berlin.
The scout title let Mr. Cecchetti also be one of the first people to see the inside of “Hitler’s house,” recounts Korina. The embodiment of cruelty and evil, Hitler, had a high-end home that would seem ordinary by anyone’s standards. Mr. Cecchetti was smack in the middle of one of the most important events in human history. A time where over half the world came together to fight tyranny and trade it for freedom.
While serving, Alfred was “injured by grenade shrapnel in his lower back,” says Korina, earning him a purple heart and the red star. The purple heart honor came later in his life due to a mix up in paperwork, but he was recognized nonetheless.
Once he returned from the war he was “arranged to marry his wife of 68 years Eda Cecchetti,” Korina expressed. They sold produce and other various things until Mr. Cecchetti began to learn the art of rod-iron welding. He worked for GE then worked for an elder iron welder. Alfred went to what used to be the old vocational technical school across from Valley High School for rod-iron welding. He developed his own style and made his own welding business, Cecchetti Fabrication. “Before going into business for himself he worked on the Turnpike” says Korina.
All while he was working his family grew to a whopping five sons. Mr. Cecchetti continued to work diligently for his family, until he was 84 years old. In that span of years his sons grew up, and himself and two of his sons made the first joint mechanical shop and rod iron art business. Not to mention “a massive family of 14 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren,” Korina continues. One of those sons was Korina’s father Daniel Cecchetti.
Alfred’s work/art can be seen all over Pittsburgh and New Kensington. He was commissioned to make a “sign for Roosevelt Park” on Drey St. which is still visible today, Korina added.
An interaction between Alfred and a local legion speaks volumes as to what kind of man Mr. Cecchetti offered Daniel Cecchetti whom I spoke with over the phone. Alfred sat down to meet with members of the legion to begin to lend his skills to the community and asked when they would start helping the community. The members essentially said they just sit around and talk about what might be nice for the community, but that was not what Mr. Cecchetti had in mind. He thought they would physically help the community, instead the Legion was a place of drinking and idle discussion. Mr. Cecchetti was a man of action and this organization didn’t fit him.
Alfred Eugene Cecchetti could not stay idle, that just wasn’t one of his gears. He trained and became a paramedic locally. Instead of doing small things for the community, his whole life was a love letter to his family and the general public. By starting his own business and caring actively for the sick and injured he was the glue that held his family and community together. He had an incredible sense of duty to use the gifts he had to their highest capability not only for himself but for everyone. To merely survive is alright, but to thrive and help your city be all it can be is something that has been lost or miscommunicated by many of us. We all could learn a lesson from the late Mr. Cecchetti. That lesson, continue to press on to better yourself for the sake of those around you.
*Editor’s Note: This article is from our September 2016 edition of The Nittany Pride. My apologies to the Cecchetti family for not publishing this story online sooner.