Obituaries » Robert Joseph Rinaldi, Sr.
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April 17, 1941 - February 12, 2016
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Robert J. (Bobby) Rinaldi, Sr., aged 74 and a lifelong resident of Old Forge, passed away Friday after a long illness at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, surrounded by his family.
Born April 17, 1941, to the late Mary and John Rinaldi, he was a 1959 graduate of Old Forge High School, where he enjoyed a remarkable football career. In addition to leading the Blue Devils to the 1958 Eastern Conference Championship, he was nominated to the Associated Press All-Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Team and the Sporting News High School All America Football Team. He set an Old Forge record for most touchdowns scored in a season, which went unbroken for 54 years, until 2012—by his grandson Robert III’s teammate, Brian Tomasetti.
Bobby served as a medic in the Army National Guard stationed in San Antonio, Texas from 1960-62 and remained a member of the National Guard until 1968. As a young man he worked as a mover and construction worker and later became owner of Fred’s Café in Old Forge and co-owner of the Northeast Stars semi-professional football team in the 1970s. Along with his business partner, the late Ted Fanucci, he ran gambling junkets to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Since 1998 he had worked alongside his children in their family restaurant, Café Rinaldi, in Old Forge, where he could be found each morning in the kitchen making the restaurant’s staple sauces and soups. He authored a cookbook, “Wise Guys Love to Cook,” which will be published this spring.
Apart from cooking, Bobby’s passions included old movies, playing basketball at the Moosic Youth Center, following the Blue Devils each season, and gambling. Odds are, if you ever placed a bet in northeastern Pennsylvania, it was with him.
Bobby is survived by his beloved wife and best friend of 30 years Janet Rinaldi, and his children: Robin Rinaldi and partner Joseph O’Rear of Los Angeles, Ca.; Robert Rinaldi Jr. and wife Lisa of Old Forge; Richard Rinaldi and wife Amanda Shimko of Philadelphia; Russell Rinaldi and wife Dana of Old Forge; Stephen Rinaldi and partner Ashley Lowe of Old Forge; four grandsons Robert III, Russell Jr., Gabriel, and Vladimir. He is also survived by his brother Brian Rinaldi and wife Judy of Old Forge; sister Julianne Genell and husband John of Meadowbrook, by former wife Jeanne Rinaldi of Old Forge, and by many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his siblings Peter, John Jr. and Louisa Rinaldi, and Vilma Powers.
The family would like to thank Dr. Kenneth Sebastianelli, the staff of Geisinger Medical Center AICU, and all of Bobby’s caregivers for their compassionate and exemplary care.
Funeral services, including military honors by the AMVETS Honor Guard, are scheduled to begin on Monday at 8:15AM from the Thomas P. Kearney Funeral Home, Inc., 517 N. Main St., Old Forge, with a 9:00AM Mass of Christian Burial in St. Mary of the Assumption Church at Prince of Peace Parish, Old Forge, to be celebrated by Rev. August A. Ricciardi, Pastor. Relatives and friends may pay their respects on Sunday between 4-7:00PM at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Bobby’s name to House of Care Assisted Living Facility, c/o Geisinger Health Systems, 100 N. Academy Ave., Danville, Pa., 17822. Please visit the funeral home’s website for directions or to leave an online condolence.