Rocco H. Puzzitiello, Jr.: “The Man Who Built a City”

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The family will receive friends on Thursday, May 28, from 3-8 p.m. in the Chapel at Sunset Memorial Park, 6245 Columbia Road, North Olmsted. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, May 29, 2015 at 11 a.m. at St. Christopher Parish, 20141 Detroit Road, Rocky River, Ohio. Entombment in the Westwood Abbey Mausoleum at Sunset Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, 4108 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44103.

Rocco H. Puzzitiello, Jr. built over 5,000 houses in the greater Cleveland area – houses that became homes to countless families throughout the city’s west side and beyond.

Some of the subdivisions he built and developed locally include Settlers Landing, Lake Forest, Water’s Edge and Royal Forest in Westlake, and Pheasants Walk, Cinnamon Woods, Cinnamon Woods South, Willow Woods, Park West, Forest Wood, Laurel Woods, Southern Woods, Park Wood, Birchdale, Park Edge and Wedgewood in North Olmsted.

Mr. Puzzitiello was a recognized leader in the building and construction business. He passed away peacefully after a short illness on May 24, 2015. He was President of Hennie Homes, R & H Development and Randall House Properties.

Mr. Puzzitiello is survived by his companion and friend, Joan Betz, five children, Rocco (Rick) H. Puzzitiello III (Kathy) of Westlake, Ronald J. Puzzitiello and Lisa M. Puzzitiello of Grafton, and Randall W. (companion Mary) and Robert M. Puzzitiello of North Olmsted, grandchildren Rocco H. Puzzitiello IV (Amanda) of Phoenix, AZ., Brittany (Jeremy) Miller of Fairview Park, Andrea Puzzitiello (David Rice) of Bay Village, Ronald J. Puzzitiello of Grafton, Jason Weegar of Tempe, Az., Justin Weegar of Parma, Randall Puzzitiello of Baltimore, MD., Alyssa, Rachelle and Robert Puzzitiello of North Olmsted, great-granddaughter Ruby Mae Puzzitiello Rice, brother Richard Puzzitiello (Carol) of Strongsville, and many extended family members including cousins, nieces and nephews.

Mr. Puzzitiello was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 54 years, Hennie M. (Welke) Puzzitiello in 2004, parents Rocco H. and Elsie (Padovani) Puzzitiello, Sr., brother Raymond (Olga) Puzzitiello, sisters Pauline Hendrickson, Marcella (Caferro) Super, and Lois (Tony) Latina.

Mr. Puzzitiello was born in Cleveland on June 25, 1929. His father emigrated from Italy, and Rocco was very proud of his Italian heritage. Through the years, he was a frequent visitor to Cleveland’s Little Italy, especially during the annual Feast of the Assumption. He celebrated St. Rocco’s Day each summer with family and friends, sharing lots of great Italian food.

Mr. Puzzitiello attended West Tech High School. He was extremely patriotic and proudly served his country as a United States Navy Petty Officer aboard the USS Philippine Sea CV-47, primarily in the Mediterranean region. When he returned to the States, he worked with his father in construction, building homes in Cleveland Hts. and Shaker Hts.

Starting his own company in 1950, he named the business after his wife, calling it Hennie Homes. His first development of homes was in the city of Parkview, now Fairview Park.

“Many municipalities didn’t have codes to cover them and I had to help them establish codes,” Mr. Puzzitiello once remarked. In those days, under the GI Bill, veterans could purchase brand new homes for $10,800 with just $475 down.

Seeing a need, Mr. Puzzitiello built dozens of bungalows and two-story homes in Parma. Veterans bought almost every one.

Mr. Puzzitiello expanded operations to construct larger family homes, custom-built homes, condominiums and cluster homes. He worked with both his brother, Richard, and sister, Lois, before they each launched companies of their own.

Mr. Puzzitiello also constructed shopping centers in the North Olmsted area, along with apartment buildings, including Randall House Apartments, in Fairview Park. His companies also built apartments and shopping centers in Florida and other areas of Ohio.

Mr. Puzzitiello served as President of the Builders Industry Association in 1967, and was a Trustee and Member, Board of Directors and Life Director. He was appointed to the Cleveland Sewer and Water Commission in 1968. He was honored with the All Time Big Spike Award by the National Association of Home Builders in 1975, 1976 and 1977, among several other awards throughout his career.

An avid student of world history, Mr. Puzzitiello loved the opportunity to talk about world events. He was an enthusiastic golfer and a former owner of Home Links Golf Course. He was also a loyal and enthusiastic supporter of Ohio State football. Larger than life, he traveled extensively and had many friends, including high profile business leaders and political figures. He could be seen with figures as renowned as Bob Hope, Don Shula, Sen. John Glenn, and baseball stars Early Wynn and Joe DiMaggio among others.

Mr. Puzzitiello is remembered as a hardworking, innovative and successful businessman. Those who knew him shared an admiration of his self-effacing, quiet generosity and spontaneous acts of kindness that could change lives. He was a man who made a difference in the lives of others. He will be missed.

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