Visitation at Funeral Home
Obituary of Rudolph DiDonato
Rudy DiDonato was 85 when he passed away surrounded by his loving family. He ended the year peacefully and entered into eternal rest on December 31, 2018, after a life devoted to family, faith, and service to others.
Rudolph Nicola DiDonato was born to Italian immigrants on December 7, 1933. He lived in Akron his entire life, graduating from Garfield High School in 1951 and from the University of Akron in 1956. He gave two years of service to the U.S. Army, where his dark good looks earned him a position as military model for American Greetings. Later, in 1961, Rudy graduated from Kent State with a Master’s degree in Education – a background which would equip him well for a long career in the public schools.
For more than 25 years, Rudy balanced two full-time jobs, working tirelessly to provide for his family. By day, he was an educator, serving first as a teacher and then, for most of his career, as a guidance counselor for the Akron Public Schools. He began his career at Innes Junior High and finished at Ellet High School, where he inspired students for 22 years. When school finished, Rudy came home to spend time with his family, eat dinner, and take a quick nap before leaving for his night shift at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. He was also very active in the URW Union, Local 7. Though he retired from Firestone in 1981 and from APS in 1986, it wasn’t in his nature to stop and take it easy. So in retirement, he and his wife Patti became the proud owners of DiDonato Products, Inc., a company which manufactures the irons used to make traditional Italian pizzelle cookies.
“DiDonato” comes from the Italian “donare,” which means “to give.” True to his name, Rudy gave of himself constantly and generously. He was a real people person who loved making friends wherever he went. The organizations he supported are too numerous to mention, but a few of his favorites were the Serra Club, the University of Akron Varsity “A” Association, the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame, the South Akron Board of Trade, the Akron Boards of Trade Council, and the Italian-American Professional Businessmen’s Club. Along the way, Rudy earned many awards for his service, and he was a resolute fixture at reverse raffles, often organizing them for local charities and important causes. You could hardly spend a few minutes with him before he asked, “Do you want to buy some tickets?” Rudy also remembered the importance of a good education and helped countless students obtain college scholarships, as well as assisted others in establishing scholarship funds at the University of Akron.
Sports were a big part of Rudy’s life. He loved almost all sports, but horse racing and football were his favorites. In the late 1960s, Rudy and a few friends founded Buckstone Stable. He played high school baseball and high school and college football. Later, he officiated high school basketball – his claim to fame was calling the first technical foul on Bobby Knight. For years, Rudy passionately supported the U of A Athletics program, and until recently, he attended many events with U of A Athletics, the Akron Rubber Ducks, and Ohio State Football. When it came to sports, whether amateur or professional, Rudy was a wealth of knowledge and loved to say, “Put the game on.” He was the consummate armchair quarterback, in sports and in life.
Rudy’s deepest love was for his family. He was exceedingly proud of his immediate and extended family and their accomplishments. Rudy is preceded in death by his loving parents, Leopold and Beatrice DiDonato; and his sisters, Mary and Maxine DiDonato and JoAnne Staats. He is survived by his bride of 62.5 years, Patti, and his five children, Joseph (Marina), Rebecca DiDonato Heimbaugh, Laurie (Fred) Walton, John (Jennifer), and Christine (Paul) Lavigne. He is sorely missed by his grandchildren Alissa and Anthony (DiDonato); Elizabeth, Joseph, and Nicholas (Heimbaugh); Brent and Natalie (Walton); and Joshua, Nicholas, Daniel, Emily, and Rachel (DiDonato). He also leaves behind his beloved brothers Tony (Jane), Bobby (Jeanette), and Eugene (Bonnie), as well as his many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Rudy was always the family’s #1 cheerleader.
Rudy lived a long and good life, but he never had enough time to accomplish all he wanted. He leaves behind a beautiful legacy of family, faith, and service to others who will continue to benefit from his untiring generosity.
Rudy’s life will be celebrated with calling hours at Anthony Funeral Home, 1990 South Main Street, Akron, Ohio, on Friday, January 4, 2019, from 3 p.m. until 7:45 p.m., with a K of C Rosary to follow. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 1580 Brown Street, Akron, Ohio, on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. Burial will immediately follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
In honor of Rudy’s commitment to charity, donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the DiDonato Family Scholarship Fund at the University of Akron, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, or to the Akron Serra Club for the benefit of Borromeo seminarians.
What a very sweet (“Dolce”) life. Salute!
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