The community is mourning a well-known Indiana businessman and civic leader who has passed away.
Charles “Chuck” Spadafora, 77, owner of Colonial Motor Mart and Colonial Toyota, died Thursday.
C.J. Spadafora, the general manager of the car dealerships, said he had a special relationship with his dad.
“I was very fortunate to work with my dad for over 20 years,” he said this morning. “I lost my hero and best friend.”
Jack Delaney, the patriarch of three car dealerships, said he was lifelong friends with Chuck Spadafora.
“I’ve known him since fifth grade,” Delaney said. “We went to St. Bernard Catholic School together all the way through Indiana High School.
“I went into the Navy right out of high school in 1959, and Chuck was the guy who drove me to Pittsburgh so I could catch the train to boot camp. He’s been a friend of mine most of my life.”
Delaney said he saw Spadafora last month at their 60-year high school reunion.
“My dad, Jack Delaney, Joe Kovalchick and Bill Gatti have been close friends for a long time,” C.J. Spadafora said. “They all went to Indiana High School, graduated the same year, stayed here and took over their family businesses. It’s pretty impressive what they all did.”
Todd Brice, president and CEO of S&T Bancorp Inc., remembered Spadafora “as a true gentleman who really cared deeply about his family, local businesses and the Indiana community.”
Michael Donnelly, president of Indiana Printing and Publishing, the parent company of The Indiana Gazette, also praised Spadafora.
“Chuck has been a great friend to me and so many others during his life,” Donnelly said. “He was dedicated to (his wife) Linda and his family. He also was dedicated to his community like no other. He was instrumental in getting (Route) 119 finished to Blairsville.
“He even took the time to knock on the doors along that corridor who were not in favor of the project while being the chair of the chamber.”
“Chuck did a lot of really good things for the community and made a major donation to the Meals of Wheels program after (former Giant Eagle owner) Ed Bratton died,” said Susan Delaney, Jack’s wife. “There wasn’t much he wasn’t involved in.”
Bill Gatti, longtime owner of Gatti Pharmacy, remembered Chuck Spadafora as “a great friend.”
“But I am not the only great friend he had,” Gatti said. “He had lots of them, He was a guy who was very well thought of, and was a very community-minded guy. He did a lot of things for a lot of people. Some people knew about, some they didn’t.
“He was involved in helping start SpiritLife. He was involved in St. Vincent de Paul. He supported everything. He did try to make the world better. He tried to make Indiana better, for sure. I don’t know anything bad you can say about him. He also was a Marine, a decorated veteran.”
Donnelly said Spadafora, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., also had a good sense of humor.
“Several years ago Navy, his alma mater, beat Notre Dame, my alma mater, and Chuck called me and said ‘Nobody beats Navy 43 years in a row,’” Donnelly said. “ND had a 42-year winning streak snapped at that game.”
Spadafora came to Indiana in 1946, when his father, Cecil, moved here to open a General Motors automobile dealership.
After the Naval Academy, Spadafora entered the U.S. Marine Corps and was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry while serving in Vietnam.
“When I came back from the Navy in 1963, Chuck’s father, Cecil, called me and asked me if I would like to sell cars part time,” Jack Delaney said. “I was going to JUP at the time and he hired me. From there, that’s how it all started.
“The Spadaforas taught me how to sell cars. And in 1971, I bought Stafford Chevrolet and it became Delaneys. I give Chuck’s dad all the credit for getting me started in the business.”
Chuck Spadafora had more than 40 years of business experience in both small and large enterprises. He became president of Colonial Motor Mart in 1975, later became president of Colonial Toyota in 1989, and president of Indiana Colonial Nissan (now Mark Arbuckle Nissan) in 2008.
From 1987 until 2014, Spadafora served on the board of directors at S&T Bank.
“He served on our board for 27 years,” Brice said. “He touched so many different people in so many different ways. He really set a great example for people and business leaders. I know the business was started by his dad, then Chuck carried it on, and now it’s under good leadership with C.J. in charge.”
Spadafora also was involved in various civic and charitable organizations. In 2014 the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America named Spadafora as recipient of its Distinguished Citizen Award.
He was elected in 2016 as the first Indiana County native to serve on the board of directors of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
In 2017, Spadafora was named to the Indiana County Business Hall of Fame in the same class as father Cecil, who was inducted posthumously.
“He quietly donated his time and money to so many good causes,” Donnelly said. “His presence will be remembered for a long time by all the lives he touched.”
In addition, Spadafora served on the boards of directors of the United Way, SpiritLife and the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce.
In his chamber role Spadafora also was instrumental in securing Quintech to locate in Indiana County, and developing the Corporate Campus Industrial Park east of Blairsville. He also led the campaign for Indiana County to be selected as the site for State Correctional Institution at Pine Grove.
Friends will be received at the Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home of Indiana on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Roman Catholic Church.