Mary C. Mileto, a long-time Newberry businesswoman who lovingly earned the title of "Mayor of Newberry," went to heaven on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, leaving a legacy of profound love and compassion to her family and friends.
Born on March 24, 1917, Mary was the daughter of Philip and Alesandria Giacomi, but was raised from a child by her uncle and aunt, August "Zio" and Mary "Zia" Giacomi.
Her husband, Joseph, who was a welder with the railroad, died in 1968.
The matriarch of her family, Mary is survived by two daughters, Catherine "Dolly" Rolley, and Marylou (Charles) Fredericks, both of Newberry, and son, David Mileto, of Washington, Pa.; 14 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, eight great-great-grandchildren, along with nieces and nephews, and a sister, Janet Lamonica of Connecticut.
During her 95 years on this earth, most of them lived in her modest home on Dove Street, Mary touched many lives. Indeed, Newberry was home to the entrepreneur since she was born, and before that, her parents and uncles and aunts came to the West End of Williamsport after crossing through the turnstiles at Ellis Island in New York City in the early 1900s, culminating an across-the-ocean journey from the small village of Gorga, near Rome, Italy.
After graduating high school, having children and being a work-at-home mother, it was in August 1971 when Mary decided to buy Mileto's Sub Shop in the old Ben Franklin building at the corner of Diamond and West Fourth Streets, from her niece, Barb Mileto. Her decision came several years after her husband died. Mary knew that, if there was one thing she could do, it was to prepare and serve food, something she had done all her life in taking care of her growing family.
Right away, Mary made a name for herself, serving hoagies, pizza and, for many of the young men and women who hung out near her shop, a dose of reality mixed with compassion. "I tell it like it is," Mary often said. And tell it she did. Good or bad, Mary offered advice, born from years of experience, to all who walked through her doors. But she had a kind word for all, and always asked how a customer's family members were doing. In fact, many of her customers were quick to give her a hug or a kiss as a sign of love and respect.
In the late 1970s, plans were revealed to raze the old Ben Franklin building, forcing Mary to find a new home for her business. She didn't have to look far. She moved next door to 2127 West Fourth Street after buying the old "Italian House" building in the spring of 1979. Mary could be found most evenings sitting near the corner in her shop, greeting all who came through the door. To many of her friends and customers, she was lovingly called the "Mayor of Newberry."
Mileto's Sub Shop is a true family business, run with the help of Dolly and her late husband, Bob Rolley, with granddaughter, Arlene Hunter Ardrey. Over the years, virtually the entire "Mileto clan" worked at the sub shop, many to earn money for college. The business is still run by family and is under the management of Arlene Ardrey, Marylou Fredericks and David Mileto.
Among Mary's proudest affiliations was with Newberry Little League, where Mileto's Sub Shop continues to sponsor a team going on 40-plus years. In fact, in her honor, the league named a baseball field after her. Mary also was a strong supporter of the Newberry Lions Club, participating in the Lion's annual pet parade many years, handing out some 100 coupons for free hoagies along the way each year.
Community was very important to Mary. She regularly supported the Williamsport Area High School with financial and other activities through its sports programs. And, after the new Jackson Elementary School was built and the district wanted to build a new playground there, she donated hundreds of hoagies to the volunteers who constructed the formerly huge wooden apparatus behind the school.
A woman of immense faith in God, Mary was a long-time member of Ascension Catholic Church and its Altar and Rosary Society.
She held numerous positions with many civic and business organizations, including a member and past president of the Lycoming-Tioga Deanery Council of Catholic Women; Divine Providence Hospital Auxiliary; the former Lycoming County League of Women Voters; and Williamsport Council of Republican Women. She attended Dale Carnegie classes. As a young mother, she was active with the various Parent-Teacher Associations in the Williamsport Area School District. Mary also was a member of the American Business Women's Association.
She also was active politically for more than 50 years, directly supporting various political candidates, and making a run herself for Williamsport City Council in the early 1990s.
Though she has passed to her loved ones in heaven, Mary leaves a gift of great love for her family, her friends and her community a gift born from hard work, integrity, mutual respect and service to others.
Family and friends are invited to remember Mary and celebrate her life during a viewing from 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Sanders Mortuary, 821 Diamond St., Williamsport. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Ascension Church, 2101 Linn St., Williamsport. Burial will be in Wildwood Cemetery. Flowers are welcome, or memorial contributions may be made to the Newberry Little League, C/O Dennis Lukowsky, Treasurer, 51 Court Alley, Williamsport, PA 17701. www.sandersmortuary.com