Paul R. Caracciolo

December 28, 1942 ~ August 8, 2023 (age 80) 80 Years Old


Paul R. Caracciolo, 80, Bellwood, passed away at home surrounded by his loving family Tuesday evening. He was born in Altoona, son of the late Guiseppe and Anna Marie (Porzio) Caracciolo.

He later married Denise Wesner. 

Paul is survived by his loving wife; three daughters: Robin (Toby) Fortney, Rhonda (Gary) Angelo and Paula (Randy) Rabish; a son, Paul (Barbara) Caracciolo II; four grandchildren: Tyler Fortney, P.R. (Allison) Caracciolo, Alison Caracciolo and Lukas Caracciolo; a sister, Antoinette Miller; and a sister-in-law, Nancy Caracciolo. 

He was preceded in death by two sisters, Mary Lou Procaccini and Josephine (Ronald) Rimpfel; two brothers, Gerald (Margie) Caracciolo and John Caracciolo; and a brother in-law, Bob Miller. 

Paul was a 1960 graduate of Altoona High School and attended Johnstown Barber School and Adele Alan Beauty School. 

He was a well known hair stylist in Altoona for more than 35 years. He opened first as a barber shop on Lloyd St. of Altoona, but he had visions that superseded the A-typical Barber Shop. In 1972, he opened “Styles by Paul,” a salon that was ahead of its time. It backed away from the typical barber shop, and introduced individual booths for a more private experience. Appointments were taken by a receptionist, and an assistant provided the ultimate shampoo. 

Paul helped transition his male clientele from dry cut barbering to having a shampoo and modern hairstyle. His female clientele  grew rapidly as he transitioned them from the old “beauty shop” weekly wash and set that hid bad perms and cuts to hair styles they could maintain themselves at home. He was truly an artist in his trade and his business evolved over the years. He was loved by his clientele for his laughter, his smile, and most of all, his charisma. Paul’s salon still runs today under the ownership of his daughter, Paula. His daughter, Robin, has “Robin Fortney’s Styling Nest” in Bellwood. 

As much as Paul is known as a hairstylist, his first love was entertaining and music. His start was at a young age with the “Ollie Grassi Stars of Tomorrow.” With maracas and full regalia, he danced a Latino salsa.  

Paul attended St. Mark’s and it was there that he had a nun that encouraged him to sing. Bribing him with a homemade chocolate cake, he went classroom to classroom and sang for her. 

The 50’s were a time of putting together teenage bands, so of course he needed to play the guitar. Money was tight, but with a few lessons he grasped the guitar and at age 13 put his first garage band together. From there Paul had many bands including “Paul and the HiFi’s.” They were the backup band for many a star that came to Altoona to perform. There was also the “Dreamliners” and the “Stereos,” to name a few. One of his bands included a sax player. When the sax player left the band, Paul decided to learn with a borrowed school sax, no lessons, and playing by ear.  

He changed instruments from guitar to sax. He would be the first to tell you that it sounded pretty rough in the beginning, but as with everything he did, he became a pretty good saxophone player. It became the instrument most would remember him for. 

Paul played in many bands, including “The Ron Sassano Trio” and “Prime Time Band.” There are too many to list, but he shared a lifetime of music with so many talented musicians from Altoona in an era that appreciated live music; an era of sock hops, community center dances, “The Bandstand,” and clubs that always had live music. 

Paul also loved sports and played football and baseball in his youth. His fondest memories were of his buddies and the rivalries between Roosevelt and Keith football. He loved to tell the story of when he ran a winning touchdown while suffering a concussion. Stories of “no hitters” and coming up throwing with or without the ball, along with crazy nicknames such as, “Crazy Legs.” 

Paul also picked up the game of golf and it too became his passion, from winning and placing in many tournaments, to having 3 hole-in-ones. 

He loved woodworking and carpentry. He would spend hours in his work shop building furniture. He also enjoyed RV-ing and snow birding in Florida. In later years, he even took up oil painting. 

But of all his many accomplishments, Paul took the most pride in his family. His children meant the world to him. He adored his grandchildren and loved sharing his knowledge with them. He supported their sports, music and life ambitions. Paul was a very proud Dad and Pap. 

He was a former member of St. Mark’s Catholic Church. 

Friends will be received from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, at Santella Funeral Home, where a vigil for the deceased will be held.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Committal will be held at Calvary Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in memory of Paul to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; or Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.

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