Commonly, when you see a familiar name in the obituaries, sadness falls upon you. However, remembering the few occasions in the company of Mr. Francis Pileggi brought a smile to my face.

Because I write a lot, people often mistake me for a journalist. I’d rather be labeled as a storyteller. When I come across a good storyteller, I’m always attentive and intrigued. Mr. Pileggi was one of those guys who could yarn a great tale.

There aren’t many guys remaining who have firsthand knowledge of what made Chester great in the 1940s through 1960s era, especially one so close to politics and business circles of influence. Once you got Mr. Pileggi started, he kept you spellbound with funny stories of those good ole days.


I loved hearing him talk about his father who came to America from Italy with little money and took care of his family through his business as a brick layer. Mr. Pileggi says he was good at sports and went to Villanova to play football. One day, while on the running track, his father came on campus and asked the coach what his son was doing running around in circles. The coach explained, but it must not have been good enough for dad who scolded Francis for not taking his studies serious by spending time running around on the track. “If all you want to do is play, you’ll be coming back home to lay bricks with me.”

I didn’t know him well, but every time I was in the company of Mr. Pileggi, he greeted me like we were childhood buddies. All I ever wanted was to steal a few moments of his time to hear one of his funny stories. The old man never failed to make me smile.

My condolences to Frank, John, Dominic and the entire Pileggi family.

As a group of us were lingering on the sidewalk after a Chester Business Association meeting, a black sedan pulls up to the curb and out comes Mr. Pileggi. He told us stories until dark.