Navy machinist put heart into cars, recreation
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for Bob Mautino and Loretta Bracco Hugar, but with the help of a telephone, they began a long-distance romance that blossomed into marriage.
“That old telephone went 90 mph,” said Loretta Mautino, 89. “We didn’t have a lot of money to be making long-distance phone calls (between Clearfield and Florida), but somehow, we managed to call each other constantly.”
Robert J. Mautino of North Huntingdon died of natural causes in his home Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014. He was 93.
Mr. Mautino and his first wife, Ann, operated Mautino’s Garage on Lincoln Highway near Irwin from 1946 to 1968. She died in 1969.
He attended the University of Pittsburgh, mostly at night, to earn a degree as an automotive vocational education teacher.
“He was 47 years old when he went back to school,” said Loretta Mautino, his wife of 32 years. Her husband taught auto shop locally and in Florida.
A lover of antique cars, Mr. Mautino restored a 1947 Crosley roadster that was in “dire shape.”
“We went to all the auto shows,” his wife said.
He also was a motorcyclist who rebuilt a “knucklehead” motorcycle.
Mr. Mautino joined the Navy during World War II and served from 1942 until 1946 as an aviation machinist mate first class, flying mostly on a PB4M Flying Sea Plane, one of the Navy’s largest patrol planes of World War II. Stationed at Fleet Air Wing 11, Puerto Rico, his plane was used primarily to attack submarines.
“He loved flying. He would have loved to have been a pilot,” his wife said.
He came close to doing so during the war.
When the plane was short-handed, the captain motioned toward the co-pilot’s seat and said, “ ‘Sit down, Mautino,’ ” she said.
Mr. Mautino was an avid skier and loved the water.
“I called him a dolphin ’cause he could swim like a fish,” Loretta Mautino said.
His nieces and nephews visited often at his cabin at Deep Creek, Md.
“He was a loving man, a very giving man,” said his niece Pat Porterfield, 57, of Irwin. “He always loved us kids. He taught us all how to water ski.”
In addition to his parents, the late Antonio and Jessie Casey Mautino, he was predeceased by his first wife, Ann, brother Grant, and sister Irene. He is survived by his wife, Loretta; his niece, Pat; and other nieces and nephews.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday and 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in the Joseph F. Ott Funeral Home, Inc., 504 Oak St., Irwin. Parting prayers will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial in St. Agnes Church, North Huntingdon. Entombment will follow in Irwin Union Cemetery, North Huntingdon.
Memorial donations in his name may be made to a charity of choice.
Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or [email protected].