Frank Serpente, 103, plumbing-firm owner

Frank Serpente
Frank Serpente
Posted: July 21, 2013

Frank Serpente, 103, owner of Frank Serpente & Son Inc., a plumbing firm on Lancaster Avenue near 51st Street in West Philadelphia from 1942 to 1975, died Monday, July 15, at his home in Longport, N.J.

Born in Roseto in the Abruzzi region of Italy, Mr. Serpente arrived in the United States with his parents in 1913, the year that he turned 3.

Mr. Serpente's father died young, so he had to go to work when he was only 9, son Paul said.

"When Dad used to go down memory lane," Paul said, he talked of long-vanished jobs such as helping a milkman on home deliveries and selling produce from a truck as it slowly went from street to street.

He was working as a mechanic when, while repairing the brakes and suspension system on a plumber's heavy-duty truck, the plumber liked his work and gave him a job and a career.

Mr. Serpente was a good craftsman and became a master plumber, his son said.

His "roots were attached firmly to the Catholic Church, where there was intense focus on family, charity, and a strong work ethic," his son said.

Though his own formal education was limited, he insisted that his children attain formal and higher education. Five of his six children are college graduates.

Even past 100 years of age, his son said, Mr. Serpente "was walking on his own, dressing on his own. He could do anything he wanted, unassisted."

Mr. Serpente lived in West Philadelphia, built a home in Longport in 1947, and moved there full-time in 1988.

Until the Castro revolution, he would take from three to five business friends on annual fishing trips off Cuba.

Before and after, they fished off the Florida Keys, his son said, hauling in sailfish, marlin, and tarpon.

Besides son Paul, Mr. Serpente is survived by sons James, Francis, John, and Michael, daughter Joan Reed, 11 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. His wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1938, died in 2007.

A viewing was set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, 401 Brookline Blvd., Havertown, before a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass, with burial in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.

Condolences may be offered to the family at O'Leary Funeral Home, 640 E. Springfield Rd., Springfield, Pa. 19064.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.

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