On Sunday, May 2, 2021, Samuel Rocco, Jr., devoted father, brother and grandfather, passed away at the age of 91. He was born in Washington, Pennsylvania, son of an Italian immigrant, Samuel Rocco, Sr., and his mother Anna Paglia, on July 20, 1929.
Samuel’s childhood was deeply affected by the Great Depression of 1929 that lasted until the late 1930's. As a result his parents could no longer support him, his two brothers, Nicholas and Joseph, and his sister, Eleanor. This eventually landed him and his brothers at the Toner Institute, an orphanage for boys. He left the orphanage at age 16 and was very determined. In his own words he said “I’m going to make something of myself”, so he joined the military. He first joined the army, but was discharged when they found out his correct age. That did not keep his drive to serve our country. When of age, he re-enlisted into the Army until he was honorably discharged in January of 1946. He joined the Navy until June 1950, and then the Air Force, where he was awarded the Domain of the Golden Dragon in December 1952. The Domain of the Golden Dragon is an unofficial but highly coveted award of the United States Navy and the United States Coast Guard. It is given to crew members of ships which cross the International Date Line. You enter the dragon's empire when you cross the International Date Line by sailing west, where Asian nations celebrate the power of the dragon. He continued to serve in the Air Force until December of 1954.
He met his future wife, Jo Ann Catherine Kowalik, in San Antonio, Texas, while stationed at Lackland Air Force base in 1952. They were married in February 1954. He had two children, Sabrina Angelica in 1956, and Mark Anthony in 1957. After serving in the military, he pursued a career in television, beginning as a camera man, working his way up to program director at KSAT channel 12, in San Antonio. In 1976 he left the station to work for Northrop Aircraft Company. He trained in California for his overseas relocation to Saudi Arabia in 1979, to work for the Royal Saudi Navy as media program director. While training in California, he completed a Bachelors Degree of Science in Communications specializing in TV broadcasting at the University of Los Angelos.
He retired from Northrop in 1986 and returned to San Antonio. In 1988 he moved to Houston after the birth of his first grandchild, Erika Michelle Faria. Then his second grandchild, Michael Brandon Faria, was born in 1989. He was a vital part in his grandchildren’s life. He was their babysitter and was always there for them, and his daughter and son in law at a “drop of a dime” when they needed him. He treated his two grandchildren just like he did his own two children, Sabrina and Mark. He had a huge heart and was loved by everyone he met. He was very talented in visual arts, graphic arts, decorative arts, and the performing arts of music and architecture. He had the gift of being able to play music by ear, and did not limit himself on what instrument he played.
Left to cherish his memories are, his loving daughter and son-in-law, Sabrina and Eric Faria, his grandchildren, Erika and Michael Faria, his sister, Eleanor Fitzpatrick, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel and Anna, his brothers, Nicholas and Joseph, his wife Jo Ann, and his son Mark.
He is gone but never forgotten, leaving his loving memories in all our hearts forever.
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