LAS VEGAS - Sam P. Maiorca, 88, died at 12:40 a.m. Monday, April 15, 2013, from pneumonia-related cardiac arrest in a Las Vegas hospital.
Sam was born Nov. 8, 1924, on Grant Street in Niles, the youngest and last surviving child of 12 born to Constantino and Felippa Butto Maiorca.
Sadly, Sam's mother passed away when he was only 6 years old and at the start of the Great Depression. He became a child of the close-knit neighborhood where he lived; but for the most part, he was raised by his older sisters, Angeline, Rose and Jennie. In spite of this terrible loss, Sam always spoke of having had a happy childhood, enjoying his place as the baby in the family and not far in age from his oldest nieces and nephews, who became like his siblings and his best friends. He found joy in the theater and in particular, the movies, and he was a devoted follower of Hollywood.
He was baptized a Roman Catholic at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Niles, and he practiced his faith at parishes in the various cities where he lived throughout his adulthood. He suffered serious illnesses as a young man and believed he was restored to good health, in-part, through the intercession of St. Jude, to whom he maintained a quiet, but lifelong devotion.
Sam attended Niles City Schools and graduated from Niles McKinley High School in 1942, whereupon, he enlisted in the U.S. military in service to his country during World War II. He served in the U.S. Navy aboard troop transport ships to the South Pacific. As the war came to an end, his service extended into 1946 and beyond, assisting the government in processing fellow enlisted men and women in their readjustment to civilian life.
Upon his honorable discharge from the military, he enrolled in Youngstown College, where he received his bachelor's degree in education. He supported himself by working at the local drugstore, becoming a licensed cosmetologist and teaching ballroom dance. He was the first and only member of his immediate family to graduate from college, and he furthered his education by receiving a master's degree from Kent State University. In so doing, he was an inspiration and an example to dozens of nieces and nephews. Sam chose to teach special needs and developmentally disabled children. He taught special education for several years at Niles McKinley High School in the late '50s and early '60s, where he was selected as the senior class adviser and sponsor for the McKinley Classes of 1956 and 1961. Sam moved to Miami Beach, Fla., where he resided and taught for 40-plus years in the Miami Dade County school system. Even after retirement there, he continued to substitute teach until his retirement to Las Vegas in the late 1990s.
His homes in Florida became the vacation destination spot for his family and close friends, whether it was to enjoy "spring break" while in college, to honeymoon with a new spouse, to relax in retirement or simply to escape the harsh Ohio winters! In a word, he was fun.
Sam was a devoted participant in and patron of community theater. He was heavily involved in the first productions at the Trumbull New Theatre in Niles, and later at Acorns Civic Theater in Miami Beach.
In retirement in Vegas, he continued his community involvement, participating in his housing association, ballroom dancing and organizing and leading excursions to popular vacation destinations. He loved to travel and was fortunate to have had a wide experience in that regard.
In spite of his active and full life out of state, he was never far from Niles, and returned every Christmas and most summers and for family celebrations and other occasions.
Sam is survived by his loving friend, confidant and longtime companion, Vernon Stultz. He also is survived by his nieces and nephews, Carmen (Roz) DeGennaro, Phillippa Connelly, Suntine Infante, James (Tish) Maiorca, John "Patrick" (Donna) Maiorca, Michael (Joyce) Maiorca, John "Butch" (Chery) Maiorca, John "JJ" Maiorca and Rocco (Renee) Maiorca; dozens of great and great-great nieces and nephews; and a host of friends and neighbors.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two infant siblings. He also was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters, Tindaro "Tril" (Susie), Anthony "Ned" (Pearl ), Angeline (Carmen) Cicero, Rose (Marty) DeGennaro, Joseph (Mary), Jennie and Carmen (Carmel) Maiorca. Sam was further preceded in death by his brother, Rocco Maiorca, who was killed in battle in World War II; and his brother, John "Babe" (Sally).
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated by the Rev. John-Michael Lavelle of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church but at our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in McDonald, at 10 a.m. Monday, preceded by a 9:15 a.m. prayer service at the Joseph Rossi and Sons Funeral Home in Niles. Family and friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Sam will be honored for his military service when he is laid to rest in Niles City Cemetery.
Friends may view this obituary, sign the guestbook and send email condolences at www.joseph-rossifuneralhome.