Greensburg man made lasting mark on chemical engineering industry
When Cathy Kindel was a child, she was pretty sure her father lived in hotels.
“My mom and I would drop him off at a hotel, and then we’d pick him up at a hotel,” Kindel said of her father, Leonard. “I didn’t realize he took another car from the hotel to the airport. We’d go by the hotel, and I’d say, ‘That’s where Daddy lives.’ My mom felt bad and set me straight.”
Her father was actually traveling all over the world in his capacity as a chemical engineer, a career which led him to hold 54 patents and make a lasting mark on the industry.
Leonard A. Cullo of Greensburg died Sept. 9, 2018. He was 92.
Mr. Cullo was born April 29, 1926, in the Bronx, N.Y., to Sicilian parents Luigi and Cecilia (Mascali) Cullo. Mr. Cullo’s father owned a marble company, which supplied the marble for the iconic “Patience” and “Fortitude” lions outside the New York Public Library’s flagship branch, as well as the marble in the Bronx County Courthouse.
Mr. Cullo graduated from Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle, N.Y., at 16, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a doctoral degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, all in chemical engineering.
“Education was very important to him,” said son-in-law Jim Kindel of Greensburg. “He was always asking how the kids were doing in school.”
His four-decade career in chemical engineering took him to American Cyanimid, Harshaw Chemical and eventually Aristech, the chemical division of U.S. Steel.
Many of his patents involved improving technical processes, including notable work in the oil refinery industry, the commercial use of Promise margarine and the insertion of a polymer into paint that would allow it to better adhere to car bumpers once the auto industry stopped using chrome.
In his free time, Mr. Cullo could often be found thumbing the pages of a new book.
“When Cathy and I were dating, we’d be visiting and all of a sudden, Len would disappear,” Jim Kindel said. “And you could always find him leaning against a post or sitting somewhere, reading a book, many of which I couldn’t even pronounce.”
Mr. Cullo met his wife, Rita, on a blind date.
“He proposed on the second date, and she said no,” Cathy Kindel said. “But he kept trying.”
The couple married Sept. 3, 1955, and celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary last week.
In addition to his wife and daughter Cathy, Mr. Cullo is survived by son Leonard Jr. of Sewickley, daughter Patricia Legarth of Apex, N.C., and son William of Alexandria, Va.; and 16 grandchildren.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at John Lopatich Funeral Home, 601 Weldon St., Latrobe. A 10 a.m. funeral will be Friday at St. Vincent Basilica, with a private inurnment ceremony in October.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Benedictine Education Fund, Director of Development, St. Vincent Archabbey, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650, or to the Brown Bag Ministry, P.O. Box 512, Apex, N.C. 27502.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.