Tony Mongillo, 93; Recorded
Railroad Heyday In Pen, Ink
ONEONTA – Antonio Pasquale “Tony” Mongillo, 93, an honored citizen of his native city whose pen-and-ink drawings of locomotives captured Oneonta’s railroad heyday, passed away on Wednesday Feb. 8, 2017, at Fox Hospital.
He was famously christened the “Picasso of the Sixth Ward” by “Big Chuck” D’Imperio, the DJ and historian.
Tony was born to Pasquale and Rose (Perrine) Mongillo on Jan. 26, 1924, on West Broadway in the house he grew up in.
He graduated from Oneonta High School and, after a short stint at Scintilla in Sidney, served as a radioman the Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Assigned to an aircraft carrier, he would recall going down to the flight deck to see the shiny brass plates on airplanes’ magnetos, inscribed “Made in Sidney.” It made him feel at home.
Returning to Oneonta, Tony joined the D&H Railroad, where he worked for 43 years, rising from working in the yards to retiring as yardmaster.
He also attended art school in New York City, and used a sharp eye and pen-and-ink drawings to record the passing of Oneonta’s railroad era. He also used his art to build friendships, sending originals drawings – as well as original Christmas and birthday cards – to people who did him a good turn.
He was first married to Laura Ostrander and together they had three children, Michael (Joy) Mongillo of New Zealand, Rose Dewey (deceased), and Jane E. (Chris) Winkler; his grandson, Joseph (Kim) Winkler, and step-great-granddaughter, Anna.
On Sept. 24, 1973, he married Ann O. House.
Active in community life, he was a member of the American Legion, the VFW, the Oneonta Elks Club, as well as the former Italian American Club, where he had the distinction of being named “Man of the Year.” He was also a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
After retirement, he was frequently sought after to share his knowledge of his beloved Oneonta. He was repeatedly called upon to participate in discussions organized by the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, which presented him with its Albert E. Morris Award in 2013 as a “person of distinction” who helped explain the city’s history. In 2016, the GOHS’ History Center organized an exhibit, “Tony Mongillo’s Oneonta,” featuring his artwork.
In 2009, retired SUNY President Alan Donovan conducted an extensive interview with Tony for a series of oral histories of notable Oneontans. The resulting “Kitchen Table Conversations” may be accessed at www.oneontahistory.org
Tony had several other hobbies besides painting, enjoying golf, bowling, travelling and playing the guitar.
He is survived by his wife, Ann, of Oneonta: his brother Michael of Oneonta; his sisters, Philomena Washburn of Oneonta and Hope (Douglas) Davidson of Treadwell; his stepson, John Spence, his special friend Kathy Hilts of Oneonta, and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his sister, Virginia Naples, in December.
A service to celebrate his life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, in the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand St.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in memory of Tony to a charity of your choice.
Condolences to the family may be made online by visiting our website: www.grummonsfuneralhome.com
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home of Oneonta.