YOUNGSTOWN — Michael J. Lacivita, 96, devoted family man and Navy veteran, died due to a stroke July 21, 2020, at Heritage Manor. His favorite saying was “bulldog persistence,” and that’s what he had until the end. In his 96 years, Michael touched many lives through his children, grandchildren and many hobbies that helped him meet so many wonderful people.
Michael was born on the East Side to John and Carmella (Cacciavillani) LaCivita. Michael and his sister, Mary, were very close and loved living on the East Side. Michael developed his passion for gardening in the empty lot next door to his family home on Jackson Street. He also spent many hours in the library on his street, and although the family had little money, he was determined to go to college after graduating from his beloved East High School.
Michael entered the Navy during World War II and left with an honorable discharge in 1946. Serving his country made him proud. The GI Bill provided him the means to a college education, and for that, he was always grateful. In fact, his favorite song was “God Bless America.” He received a B.S. from Youngstown College, now Youngstown State University, in 1951. In 2004, Michael was honored to be inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Several years later, he led the Memorial Day Parade for Boardman Township as its grand marshal.
He met his wife, the former Margaret Savoia, and they started their life together on the West Side. They were married 54 years until her passing in 2005. They had two daughters, Linda (Greg) Krieger and Sandra (John) Vicarel, both of Boardman; and four grandchildren, Michael (Ashley) Krieger, Patrick Krieger (Jackson Fust), Jeffrey (Jessica) Vicarel and Dr. Laine Vicarel. As a loving father and grandfather, he did lots of babysitting and dog sitting, but he most enjoyed imparting his many words of wisdom. Michael loved to follow his grandchildren’s interests, especially their sporting events. He was an avid photographer, so his family counted on him to take snapshots. They are blessed that he captured so many of their memories.
Michael worked for half of his adult life as a superintendent for the Republic Rubber Division of Aeroquip. The last part of his career was spent at Commercial Intertech as their corporate safety and security director. At Commercial, he started the “Be Safe, Not Sorry” program, for which he won a state award. He was always telling his children and grandchildren, “Safety First.” He had great respect for Commercial and its employees. He joined many of his fellow employees as a member of the Chesterton Club in the Catholic Church.
Throughout his life and into his early 90s, he managed to develop and maintain many hobbies. Michael was an inventor and always had an idea to improve something. His “Park a Bike” had a patent and was on the market in his early adulthood. He was the founding president of the Youngstown-Warren Inventors Association.
His gardening hobby brought him awards at the Canfield Fair for his pepper and tomato plants, and he enjoyed sharing his secret for growing them. A local TV station affectionately called him “The Pepper Man.”
Michael wrote over 300 essays about his Depression recollections for The Vindicator and compiled many of them into his memoir “Rag Man, Rag Man,” published at the age of 80. His photographs of sporting events, especially baseball, and of the Amish in agriculture, were exhibited at the Butler Institute of American Art. He also won Kodak National Awards for pictures of animals. He used his book, essays, and photographs as presentations for schools and assisted-living facilities. Michael was such an active senior citizen that he was inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 1996. After retirement, he walked three miles daily and attributed that to much of his longevity.
Garage sales were another hobby and the highlight of his summers. He met so many interesting people through them. Michael bought his first bike and sled at garage sales when he was in his 80s.
Michael loved to share stories of his Italian heritage involving his family, friends and food. He was proud to be the son of Italian immigrant parents. In 2003, Michael was named Man of the Year at the Greater Youngstown Italian Fest.
His sisters, Mary (Vince) Iannazone and Maria LaCivita; and in-laws, Ralph and Lucille LaCivita, preceded him in death. Michael loved to talk, and if he could, he would say thank you to his many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and sisters-in-law, Audrey Mislay and Lillian (Jerry) Rosati. He would also give a special thank you to his wonderful caregivers, doctors, nurses, aides and family friends, who helped him live a good, long life. His family would like to express their appreciation and also thank the Inn at Ironwood and Heritage Manor for their wonderful care.
There will be no calling hours due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. A private Mass of Christian burial will be held for immediate family only at St. Christine Parish. Interment will be in Resurrection Cemetery.
Since education was so important to him, his wish was for donations to The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Fund, DeBartolo Corporation, 7620 Market St. Boardman, OH 44512. Also, donations may be made to help with superficial siderosis research with checks payable to MGH Dr. Michael Levy Neurology Research, Massachusetts General Development Office, 125 Nashua St., Suite 540 Boston, MA 02114.
Arrangements are being handled by the Davis-Becker Funeral Home. Please visit www.beckerobits.com to send condolences.