Robert Protesto Jr., 91, owned sign firm

Posted: December 09, 2008

Robert V. Protesto Jr., 91, of Berwyn, a retired sign-company owner, died Wednesday at home.

Growing up, Mr. Protesto worked at his grandparents' clam house in Broomall. A painter who made a sign for the restaurant's front window inspired him to get into the business, his daughter Diane Evans said.

During World War II, Mr. Protesto served in the Army in Europe as a camouflage technician. Among its assignments, his unit set up fake camps with hundreds of tents to deceive the enemy, his daughter said.

Mr. Protesto saw action in Italy, southern France and central Europe; participated in the Battle of the Bulge; and was wounded. In April 1945, his unit was among the troops to liberate Dachau concentration camp.

After his discharge, he established Upper Darby Sign Co. and attended school on the G.I. Bill to learn how to work with neon. The firm, which is operated by his sons, later became Pro Sign Company in Downingtown. Its clients include Gulf Oil, Sunoco, Nine West and Dunkin' Donuts.

Though he retired in 1985, Mr. Protesto continued to visit the company regularly until recently. He enjoyed oil painting, developing commercial real estate, and watching his grandchildren's sporting events.

Since 1949, he had been married to Catherine Bradley Protesto. They met at Chez Vous Roller Skating rink in Upper Darby, and raised nine children in Broomall.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Protesto is survived by sons Jack, Vincent and Ed; daughters Kitty Sciotto, Mary Etherton, Dottie Tuccio and Judie Freels; three sisters; two brothers; 41 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Another son, Robert III, died in 1997.

Friends may call from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. today at D'Anjolell Memorial Home, 2811 West Chester Pike, Broomall. A Funeral Mass will be said at noon at St. Anastasia Roman Catholic Church, 3301 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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