Santo ‘Sam’ Celia


UTICA, NY — Mr. Santo “Sam” Celia, 87, passed away peacefully with his loved ones by his side after a brief illness on Monday, June 24, 2019, at the St. Luke’s Campus Hospital of the Mohawk Valley Health System.

Sam was born on May 31, 1932, in Patrizia, Province of Reggio Calabria, Italy. He was the son of the late Giacobbe and Vittoria (Marascio) Celia. In 1948, at the age of fifteen, he immigrated to the United States to join his father and learn the trade of carpentry; in 1953, his mother joined them in the United States, after the passing of her own parents. In 1957, he met the love of his life, the former Joan Maria Cihocki. They were soon married on September 12, 1959, and have shared over fifty-nine loving years. This year they were looking forward to celebrating their sixtieth anniversary.

Sam was a carpenter by trade and operated Sam Celia General Contractor for over forty-five years. He built many homes and municipal buildings in the area including: Whitesboro Fire House and Bus Garage and many homes in East Utica, Marcy, Whitesboro and New Hartford. A man of his word, he rarely had to work with a contract, as a handshake would always do. He was very proud when his sons joined him in the construction field and started Celia Construction Inc. Even in retirement, he still loved to visit the job sites and interact with all of the workers. His workers respected that even in retirement, if he directed them to do something a certain way, then that was the way it had to be done.

Sam was an avid hunter, gardener, chef and winemaker. Keeping with his Italian heritage, he spent many hours working in his garden, making homemade wine and homemade sausage in oil. He enjoyed driving with his dog Oliver, to visit with his many tenants and tending to their needs.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Joan; his daughter, Victoria Celia of Marcy; his three sons and daughters-in-law, Eric and Susan (Sterns) Celia of Saratoga Springs, Samuel and Mary (Kane) Celia of Whitesboro, Dominick and Christine (VanHeertum) Celia of Marcy; grandchildren, Gabriella Celia, Nicolette, Samuel, Alexandria Celia and Racheal, Sydney, and Sophia Celia. He also leaves many nieces, nephews and cousins, in Utica, Philadelphia and Italy; as well as close friends, Joe Jacob, Ralph and Joyce Squillace, Frank Celia, and The Cotronea Family. He was predeceased by his sister, Raffalena Cosintino.

Sam’s family will honor him privately. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, June 27, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary of Mt. Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Parish. Private entombment will be in the family mausoleum in Calvary Cemetery.

The family would like to offer their gratitude to Dr. Ulahannan for the many years of care shown to Sam. They also offer their appreciation to the staff of the Intensive Care Unit at the St. Luke’s Campus Hospital of the Mohawk Valley Health System, for the care and compassion shown to Sam and his family during this difficult time. In his memory, please consider donations to the St. Mary of Mt. Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Parish, the Masonic Care Community, or the Herkimer Humane Society. Envelopes will be available at church.

Arrangements are with The Matt Funeral Home, Utica.

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