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It is with profound sadness that the family of Sam J. Pagano, Jr, 77, of Niles, announces his passing on Saturday morning October 7, 2023 from a chronic illness.
Sam, fondly known to many as Papa Sam or Chief, was born to Sam Sr. and Angie (DiPerna) Pagano on June 18, 1946, in Warren, Ohio. He was a talented athlete, playing baseball and football proudly as a Warren G. Harding High School panther. Football Friday nights were big events with his extended family cheering him on from the bleachers. He also played the alto saxophone as a young boy, a talent he shared with one of his granddaughters. Later in life he enjoyed playing golf, and when he was unable to participate in sports you could find him cheering on his favorite teams, The Ohio State Buckeyes and New York Yankees. He was a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Niles.
Following graduation from high school in 1964, Sam was drafted in the Vietnam War and served for two years in the 4th Infantry Division, 42nd Artillery. He survived the war and multiple bouts of malaria, earning a National Defense Service Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal before being honorably discharged in November of 1967. It was during this time that he first dated and then fell in love with his wife DeAnn Spano, whom he married on April 1, 1966, in Fort Lewis, Washington, right before his deployment overseas. They were married for 57 years, together through all of life’s ups and downs and would go on to have three children, five grandchildren, and one great grandson. Sam left a beautiful legacy through his family, of which he was immensely proud. He taught them to stand tall and know themselves in all situations, supporting them through all of the accomplishments and difficulties in their lives.
Sam’s love for country and dedication to service was extended to a lifelong career in law enforcement, which began in 1974 at the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department in Warren, Ohio, where he served as deputy, detective, and drug investigator. In 1984, Sam was one of the very first to join the newly formed Weathersfield Police Department as a patrolman. He was soon promoted to sergeant and then appointed to chief of police in 1986. Sam’s accomplishments had significant and lasting impact on the police department and community. He implemented the department’s first D.A.R.E Program and K-9 Unit, created specialized areas in drug investigation, traffic enforcement and juvenile justice, and instituted the department’s first captain position. His career was also a great source of pride and an extension of the brotherhood and comradery he found serving in the military. Sam was a respected leader and mentor to many who served in the police force during his long tenure and formed many lasting and meaningful friendships along the way. He was known for his quick wit and humor, a man of few words but when he spoke everyone listened.
Left to cherish his memories are his wife; daughter Nicole (Michael) Pagano-Percy of Mount Vernon, Ohio and granddaughters Sophia and Lillian; son Jason (Sandra) Pagano of Morehead City, North Carolina, grandson Salinger (Emma) and great-grandson Vladimir; daughter Samantha Pagano of Warren, Ohio, grandson Dante Giese, and granddaughter Carlie Giese; sister-in-law Patty (Jim) Boyle, brother in law Michael Ujfalusi, and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and cherished friends and colleagues. Proceeding Sam in death were his parents, Sam and Angie Pagano, in-laws Phyllis (Spano) and Bill Ujfalusi, brother-in-law Gary Spano, grandparents and many beloved extended family. Sam was deeply loved and will be profoundly missed by all who knew him.
The family would like to express their deep gratitude to the dedicated staff at Washington Square Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Hospital for their compassionate care and comfort.
Calling hours will be from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday October 28, 2023 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Niles. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:00 a.m. Rev. Steven Agostino will be the celebrant. Military Honors will be provided by the American Legion Honor Guard.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made by family and friends in his memory to Vietnam Veterans of America, Wounded Warriors or other meaningful charity of choice.
Arrangements by Holeton-Yuhasz Funeral Home 126 West Park Avenue, Niles, Ohio 44446.