Al Covelli stood as giant among locals


My first recollection of Al Covelli was in the late 1950s or early ’60s cooking hamburgers at West Market Street McDonald’s and selling them with all the dressings for 15 cents.

Mr. Covelli worked at every position in his restaurants, even in later years cleaning tables for grand openings of other franchises.

Whether it was McDonald’s, O’Charley’s, Panera or Dairy Queen, he was the driving force behind his franchise accomplishments. His son, Sam, shares the same qualities, as their company remains to be No. 1 in America in franchise restaurants.

I remember another side of Mr. Covelli as he showed me on his 92nd birthday when I happened to be at the same restaurant, where his friends and neighbors had chosen to honor him. That evening he entered the room, but rather than going to his own table, he came across the restaurant floor to shake my hand and that of my wife, Sandra, telling us how happy he was to see we were happy and healthy.

He shared his time and treasures with all and especially his church, his schools and all who needed and asked for help. His wife, Jo, was the grand benefactor of a charity in Florida for underprivileged children, while his son gave generously to The Ohio State University and JFK High School, and his daughter-in-law, Caryn, made the Animal Welfare League’s new facility a reality.

He seemed bigger than life and joins the rank of other great men and women of Trumbull County and Warren.

As I grew up and spent the last 80 years on East Market Street in Warren, I was fortunate to know and share the friendship of such other giants, such as I. Van Huffel, Harold Van Huffel, William Heltzel, Charles Holton, Charles Foley, R. J. Wean, Helen Hart Hurlbert, William Sampson, Lewis Baughman, Albert Guarnieri, Lewis Guarnieri, Paul Martin, Ernie Hall, Sister Mary Grace, Temple McAllister, Clint Thomas and so many others too numerous to mention.

Al Covelli was a leader among men. His spirit of enterprise and charitable giving will long be remembered.

Donald L. Guarnieri