Umberto Paul Picchio was born in Olyphant, Pa., into humble beginnings, on Feb. 16, 1931. He was the last child of Luciano and Rosa Parette Picchio, immigrants from Italy who were living the American dream. He joined his eight siblings on that winter day, Anna, Marty, Pete, Victor, Angelo, Louis, Anthony and Caroline.
His youth was certainly not one of simple play and childhood antics. Each family member had their own responsibilities, which were paramount in the survival of a family that size in those days of the Great Depression. His older brothers went off to the coal mines to help make ends meet. Young “Berto” stayed home to help his Ma. His days were filled with bread-baking, bottle-washing for canning and washing floors and the dishes; none of which he minded, because he was with Ma. Playtime was cowboys and Indians in the backyard.
Albert, as he was now called, grew to love his playtime more and more. He and his pals liked to swim at Nay Aug Park in the day and hang out at Turko’s Sweet Shoppe at night. At his graduation from high school at Olyphant High, in June of 1948, Albert literally collected his diploma and walked off stage to catch a bus. He was joining the United States Navy, where he eventually fought proudly for his country in the Korean War, much to his Pa’s chagrin.
When he came home, that was when life got good. He returned to his old stomping grounds at Turko’s, and then in she came, the future mother of his children. A young Helen Symons barely gave him the time of day, but Albert never gave up and won her heart, most likely by singing his way into it. And, boy, he knew how to sing.
They married on June 4, 1960, and welcomed their first little blessing on March 20, 1961, their daughter, Kathleen. Two years later, Eileen joined their growing family, followed by what they thought was the completion of their beautiful family, Mary Ellen, in 1967. During that time, Albert was determined to make a successful business for himself and his “girls.”
He loved people, loved to talk to them, give them advice. So, why not open a local bar? He was already a bartender, minus the alcohol and a bar-stool. He loved it. He and Helen worked hand-in-hand to make it work, but it just wasn’t enough for a family of five. Enter fate, a job working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the Labor and Industry Wage and Hour Division. He loved investigating, loved the daily challenge and fighting for the little guy. He was a true Democrat. Everything was falling into place. Then, in 1976, — WHOOPS! — a surprise addition: their baby, Tricia, was born.
Albert was the light of his little girls’ lives. He worked hard to provide for them and demonstrate what is possible in life if you strive for it. He didn’t need sons; his girls could play blackjack, help shingle a roof and dig a footer just as well, if not better, than any son could. He was most proud of that.
Years passed and his girls grew. Kathy married John Cirba and they gave to Albert his next blessing, his first granddaughter, Amanda. Eileen then married Kevin Swift. Here came two more girls, his Kelsey and Mackenzie. Mary Ellen later married Stacy Minter and completed his gaggle of girls. Mariah was here. All four brought something new to his life. Amanda was his tomboy; Kelsey shared his love of politics; Mackenzie inherited his melodic voice; and Mariah, his love of golf. Life was complete.
Tricia married Michael “Bud” Krisler many years after her three sisters were married. All of his sons-in-law were very dear to him — all for their own special reasons.
Albert, or “Bubba,” as many called him now, loved to have fun, having a drink with the boys and talking shop, or sitting at the head of his dining room table and watching his crazy family and their antics. They were the things that completed him.
To say we have lost an important part of our world is a gross understatement. He wasn’t just a husband, a father, a grandfather or any old friend; he was his “Pic’s” Al, his daughters’ daddy, his granddaughters’ Pop and his friends’ Bubba. Only we know the importance of those names and what they mean to us as individuals. Hopefully, everyone has someone like that in their life. We ache with your absence; we cry for your hugs and long for your wisdom already, forever and a day.
Mass will be at 10 a.m. on Monday at Holy Cross Parish at St. Patrick’s Church, 200 Delaware Ave., Olyphant. The Rev. Richard Cirba, pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine, Wilkes-Barre, will officiate. Friends are asked to go directly to the church on Monday. Burial will be private and at the convenience of the family.
Friends may call on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hudak-O’Shea Funeral Home Inc., 115 Garfield Ave., Olyphant.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to AseraCare Hospice, 719 Northern Blvd., South Abington Twp., PA 18411; ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter, 321 Norristown Road, Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002; or Shriners Hospitals for Children, 3551 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19140.