Thomas Cherubini Celli of Greensburg, PA, passed away unexpectedly on August 18, 2022 at his home in the arms of his daughter listening to the Rolling Stones. He was 77 years old. His family and friends had the chance to say goodbye at his bedside. The family is both devastated and shocked by his sudden death.
Thomas was born on December 28th, 1944 in Pittsburgh, PA to Mario Cherubini Celli and Catherine Cole Celli. Thomas graduated from The School of Architecture in Ithaca, NY at Cornell University in 1967, and over the course of his life and career he worked to become an internationally recognized architect and master planner. He took over the architectural firm Celli-Flynn architects which was co-founded by his father and committed himself to extending the firm’s legacy for lasting design. As the firm’s reputation continued to grow, he worked alongside his trusted partner William Brennan. Together with Bill they collaborated as Celli-Flynn Brennan for the better part of two decades.
Thomas specialized in planning and design for educational, religious and governmental institutions for 40 years. Thomas completed work at large universities and hundreds of small, private colleges across the United States. Religious institutions and historic cathedrals such as St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh, St. Joseph's Cathedral in Wheeling, WV both exemplify his restoration skills. Renovations to Henry Hobson Richardson's Shadyside Presbyterian Church from 1889 and the Restoration study for Old Main at Augustana College from 1888 are other projects reflecting the firm's historic credentials. One of his most notable projects is the $140M East Wing Addition of the Pennsylvania State Capitol which won the Arthur Ross Award from Classical America.
Thomas was always on the move in downtown Pittsburgh and those who knew him would have their own stories to tell of his electric energy. He was a sharp dresser, loved to dance, traveled quite a bit of the world, and thrived on being creative and moving fast from one idea to the next. He enjoyed fraternity and was a member of Theta Delta Chi in college, and he continued to seek comradery until the end of his life as a member of The Duquesne Club of Pittsburgh, and The Rolling Rock Club.
Those that knew his design philosophy would often hear him quote: “He who builds to God, and not to fame will never mark the marble with his name.” His clients and colleagues knew his fabulous ability to get everyone working together to achieve beautiful buildings that last and that were completed on time and on budget. A man of tremendous vision Thomas was known for a creative contradiction or two here and there. Perhaps the one that stands out the most is Thomas’s firm name could often be found marked on a plaque in the corner of one of his newly completed buildings. When confronted by a friend about this he would just throw back his head and laugh and say “Hey, that’s sales baby.”
Thomas knew what it took to succeed in both labor and love. He had concern for his fellow man and served on the Board with The Urban League for twelve years when he wasn’t coaching little league baseball with the Boys Club of America. Later in life he was involved in several education initiatives with the Council of Independent Colleges, Project Kaleidoscope, the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education and more. Thomas was a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Bulgaria, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and others. He is also a member of the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta.
In addition to his parents, Thomas was predeceased by his wife Jeanne Gardner Celli from New England, North Dakota who he was devoted to for their fifty years of marriage. He is survived by sisters Marga Nascimento and Ellen Eichleay, as well as his daughter and son Delta-marie Cherubini Celli and Michelangelo Cherubini Celli. There are several nieces, nephews and extended family members that will miss him dearly.
Perhaps, his love for his wife, children, and family was his greatest design of all.
A visitation will be held Wednesday August 24th at Frederick’s Funeral Home, Inc., 1543 Ligonier St., Latrobe, Pa from 2pm-4pm and 6pm -8pm. A funeral mass is being held for Thomas on Thursday at The Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, Pa. at 9:30 a.m. Everyone is asked to go directly to the Cathedral. Interment will be private. To send condolences please visit www.FrederickFuneralHome.com.
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