Former submariner was vessel of knowledge
When the submarine USS Requin became a museum ship outside the Carnegie Science Center in 1990, former submariner Eugene Camarota taught the first batch of docents all he learned during World War II, the Korean War and the Cold War.
One day a week for nearly a decade, he and his wife, Sandra, would lead tours themselves.
“He knew what every knob and dial on that submarine was for,” said his son, Rafael Camarota of San Jose, Calif. “The tour ahead of him would tend to slow down to hear what he had to say, and the tour behind him would start to catch up, so by the end, he was talking to three different tour groups.”
Eugene M. “Scrappy” Camarota died of leukemia Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, in his Robinson home. He was 90.
Mr. Camarota grew up the son of Italian immigrants in McKees Rocks, earning the nickname Scrappy at a young age from an old neighbor. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and spent nearly his entire 20-year career on submarines, except for a brief stint on the USS Iowa that he called a “mistake” after getting used to the small crews and cramped confines of subs.
After his first wife left him with a young son, mutual friends introduced him to Sandra, who grew up blocks away and was widowed with a son of her own. They married in 1966 and moved into Sandra’s home in Robinson, adopting one another’s children and having one more together.
Mr. Camarota retired as a Chief Petty Officer in 1963, then worked another 25 years for Columbia Gas Co., visiting courthouses in states where the company planned gas lines and researching the properties they needed.
“He left Monday morning sometimes, and he’d come back Friday,” said Sandra Camarota, 77. “But the neat thing is during the summers, we’d go with him. We spent a lot of time in Chautauqua, New York, where the boys would go boating and fishing.”
In addition to volunteering aboard the Requin until he could no longer navigate the stairs and hatches, Mr. Camarota was involved in the U.S. Submarine Veterans and the Fleet Reserve Association.
Along with Sandra and Rafael, Mr. Camarota is survived by sons Michael of San Diego and Mark of Livermore, Calif.; a sister, Rita Porco, 78, of Ocean Springs, Miss.; and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Michael and Mary; his brother, Robert; and sisters, Helen and Lucille.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in McDermott Funeral Home in Kennedy. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Malachy Church.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or [email protected].