Leonard Michael Insalaco, 78, of Pittston, passed away Monday, March 14, 2022, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
Born in Pittston on December 7, 1943, he was the son of the late Leonardo and Concetta Scalzo Insalaco. Leonard was a 1961 graduate of West Pittston High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University in 1965 and a master’s degree in Physics from Wilkes University in 1967.
After graduation, he became a systems engineer at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY. Three years later, he moved home to Northeastern Pennsylvania to work as a manufacturing engineer at RCA. He also helped his brother, Michael, who had opened a small grocery store in Pittston and worked with his other brother, Sandy.
In 1971, Leonard joined the supermarket business full-time when his brothers opened a second store in Old Forge. He soon went from engineering to running a whole business, but Leonard was sharp and a fast learner, quickly becoming skilled in labor management and budgeting. Along with his brother-in-law, Leonard Dixon, he worked alternate, 14-hour days running the store. He later became the company’s grocery buyer and excelled at interviewing salespeople and negotiating deals.
By age 28, he was fully immersed in the supermarket business. After his younger brother, Vincent, joined the company, they expanded the supermarket chain to 14 stores across Northeastern Pennsylvania, along with corporate offices in Pittston. They sold the supermarket chain in 1993 to Penn Traffic but retained ownership of the properties.
The brothers then created the Insalaco Development Group and expanded their real estate portfolio, developing properties to lease and manage. In 1993, they opened The Crossings outlet mall in Tannersville, growing it to over 120 stores. They sold The Crossings to Chelsea Property Group in 2003.
In 1983, Leonard met the love of his life, Lita Pupa, and their early days were full of coincidences. Leonard was surprised to learn that Lita's parents were close friends with his brother Michael and sister-in-law Dolores, and they had recently traveled to Europe together. In fact, Lita had called Leonard at his office to let him know that they had arrived safely. What astounded them most was when, at the age of 40 and a confirmed bachelor, Leonard received a Cabbage Patch Doll, whose name turned out to be Lita – and Lita's maiden name, Pupa, is also the Italian word for doll. Leonard and Lita married in 1986, convinced that fate had brought them together.
Leonard believed in giving back and was active in his local community. He served as a board member of Affiliated Food Distributors and Associated Wholesalers, chairman of the Sure Save Group (which he and his family established), president of the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce, a director of the First Bank of Pittston, treasurer of the Wyoming Seminary Board of Directors for 19 years, and a director of Wyoming Valley Health Care System for 12 years.
Leonard was the most incredible, community-minded, intelligent, and religious man who deeply loved his family. He was also the most fantastic husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Providence Katarsky, brother-in-law John Burke, and sister-in-law Marlene Insalaco.
He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Lita Pupa Insalaco; daughters, Deanna Eliashevsky (Alex), Naples, FL; Maria Insalaco (Joseph Lin), McLean, VA; Christina Insalaco, San Francisco, CA; and Gina Insalaco (Nicholas Vennekotter), Brooklyn, NY; grandchildren, Tatiana, Alana, and Dominica Barone, and Maksym Eliashevsky; brothers, Michael Insalaco (Dolores), Pittston; Sandy Insalaco, Laflin; and Vincent Insalaco (Corrine), Shavertown; sisters, Carmella Dixon (Leonard), Moosic; Theresa Burke, Pittston; and Grace Dvornicky (Joseph), Pittston; brothers-in-law, Norbert Katarsky, Harding and Joseph Pupa III (Marla), Pittston; sister-in-law, Joyce Hoban (Robert), FL; numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Leonard was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in June 2016. He fought this disease with dignity and grace and never once complained. He will always remain in our hearts for being the most remarkable and brilliant man.
A special thank you to the doctors, nurses, and staff of Medical Oncology Associates for the outstanding care they provided Leonard for five years.
The family will receive friends and relatives on Friday, March 18 from 1pm to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm at Adonizio Funeral Home, 251 William Street, Pittston. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, March 19 at 9 am at St. Joseph Marello Parish, 237 William Street, Pittston. Those attending are asked to go directly to the church on Saturday morning. Interment will follow at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Carverton.
Memorial donations can be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, PO Box 5028, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5028, or to Medical Oncology Associates Prescription Fund, 382 Pierce Street, Kingston, PA 18704.