Orlando Raleigh Balotta
Orlando J. Raleigh Balotta, age 85, longtime Cleveland and international labor leader, died in Cleveland, Dec. 2, 2008. He was born Oct. 25, 1923, in Cleveland, to Vincent and Lena Balotta. He graduated from West Technical High School and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, where he attained the rank of sergeant. He married the love of his life, Mary Grace Ruccella, Nov. 30, 1946, in Cleveland. Raleigh joined the local chapter of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Union (Local 404) in 1940 at the age of 17, and was the union’s first apprentice. He served as a trustee, executive board member, business agent and financial secretary for 22 years. He also served on the executive board of the Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, and as president of the Ohio Conference of Plasterers and Cement Masons for 18 years. The Local 404 Apprentice Training Center in Cleveland bears his name.In 1991, he was appointed international vice president of the Operative Plasters’ and Cement Masons’ International Association (OPCMIA), an office he held until his retirement in 1996.Raleigh lived his Catholic faith, serving at Mass at Cleveland’s St. John’s Cathedral and acting as Eucharistic minister for many years at his local parish. He was an avid fan of the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Ohio State football and basketball. He was also a frequent visitor to Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Valley, where he spent time with John, Marianne, Brian and Megan Virgili.He is survived by his children, Marianne (John) Virgili of Glenwood Springs, Christine (Ted) Martin, James (Marie) Balotta, and Anthony Balotta of Cleveland; 11 grandchildren; and sisters Kaye Ballard, Rose Bellflower and Jean (Jerry) LaBanc.He was preceded in death by his wife.A regular column he wrote for the Cleveland Citizen closed with his mantra, Smile, kiss your spouse, hug your kids, pet your dog, and spread a little love around.
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