Remembering state Sen. Hank Salvatore

A look back: In this file photo, former state Sen. Frank A. “Hank” Sal­vatore (right) speaks with former state Rep. George Ken­ney. Sal­vatore, of Somer­ton, died on Ju­ly 16. He was 92. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Former state Sen. Frank A. “Hank” Sal­vatore is be­ing re­membered as a fam­ily man, a tire­less fight­er for his con­stitu­ents and a power­ful force as the only Phil­adelphi­an in the Re­pub­lic­an caucus.

Sal­vatore, of Somer­ton, died on Ju­ly 16. He was 92.

The son of Itali­an im­mig­rants, he spent 3½ years in the U.S. Mar­ine Corps, fight­ing in the South Pa­cific in World War II.

In 1958, he star­ted a whole­sale beer dis­trib­ut­or­ship, L&M Bever­age Co. He even­tu­ally sold the busi­ness, but kept Hank’s Bever­ages, which he began in 1995. Hank’s bottled soda comes in root beer and oth­er fla­vors.

Sal­vatore worked for 10 years for the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue. He made his first bid for of­fice in 1970, los­ing a race for the 170th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict to Demo­crat Steve Wo­jdak. After Wo­jdak de­clined to run again in 1972, Sal­vatore won the seat.

In 1979, Sal­vatore ran for an at-large City Coun­cil seat, but fin­ished eighth in a race for sev­en seats.

Sal­vatore kept the House seat un­til 1984, when he de­feated in­cum­bent Demo­crat­ic Sen. Jim Lloyd. He pushed to have the North­east be­come part of a new Liberty County, ar­guing that the city did not provide suf­fi­cient ser­vices for the amount of taxes paid. The Demo­crat­ic-con­trolled House re­fused to con­sider the idea.

Sal­vatore rep­res­en­ted the 5th Sen­at­ori­al Dis­trict un­til 2000, when he lost in an up­set to Demo­crat Mike Stack.

“Phil­adelphia lost when Hank lost,” said Mike Mee­han, gen­er­al coun­sel for the Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee.

Mee­han ex­plained that Phil­adelphia needed a voice in the Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Sen­ate, and lost it when Sal­vatore was de­feated.

Mee­han said he grew up with Sal­vatore’s chil­dren in Somer­ton, at­tend­ing St. Chris­toph­er Gram­mar School and spend­ing time with them in Ocean City, N.J., where both fam­il­ies had va­ca­tion homes.

Mee­han last saw Sal­vatore on June 30, when he vis­ited him at Holy Re­deem­er Hos­pit­al.

“It’s very sad. I lost a good friend. But he had a very full life,” Mee­han said.

Former state House Speak­er John Perzel last saw Sal­vatore when he vis­ited his home on Ju­ly 12.

“We were good friends,” Perzel said.

Perzel was elec­ted in 1978 and re­calls sleep­ing in his truck in Har­ris­burg be­fore Sal­vatore in­vited him to stay at his home in the cap­it­al. Perzel re­mem­bers Sal­vatore as the House caucus ad­min­is­trat­or who later played a key role in bring­ing fund­ing for the Pennsylvania Con­ven­tion Cen­ter and pub­lic edu­ca­tion in Phil­adelphia. He also said Sal­vatore had a strong of­fice staff.

“He was very good at con­stitu­ent ser­vice,” Perzel said.

Ber­nice Sikora first met Sal­vatore in 1970 when they at­ten­ded an event at a loc­al Sons of Italy hall for Frank L. Rizzo as he em­barked on a cam­paign for may­or. Sikora later worked closely with Sal­vatore when she was pres­id­ent of the Great­er Bustleton Civic League. She also worked for Sal­vatore in his Sen­ate of­fice and do­ing cler­ic­al work for his bever­age busi­ness.

“It was a priv­ilege to know him,” she said. “He really be­lieved in loy­alty and fam­ily, and he loved his church.”

Sikora said Sal­vatore loved sports, es­pe­cially base­ball. He donated heav­ily to char­ity and helped people an­onym­ously. She last spoke with him about four weeks be­fore his death, when he was bat­tling a series of ail­ments.

“It’s sad. He had that Mar­ine Corps fight in him. He was 92. He lived a long life. It was time for him to rest,” she said.

After Sal­vatore lost his Sen­ate seat, he made sure all of his em­ploy­ees in his Phil­adelphia and Har­ris­burg of­fices re­mained em­ployed in some way.

In of­fice, he was known for send­ing birth­day cards to seni­or cit­izens. He also wel­comed con­stitu­ents to reach him at home. His home tele­phone num­ber was lis­ted, and he didn’t have an an­swer­ing ma­chine.

“If you called me at six o’clock in the morn­ing or el­ev­en o’clock at night, I’d an­swer the phone,” he said in a story in the Times.

State Rep. John Taylor, chair­man of the Re­pub­lic­an City Com­mit­tee, said the party is deeply saddened by the loss of Sal­vatore.

“As both a state rep­res­ent­at­ive and state sen­at­or, Hank Sal­vatore was a tire­less work­er for the cit­izens of North­east Phil­adelphia and the en­tire city. Dur­ing his dec­ades in Har­ris­burg, Hank cham­pioned many causes for his con­stitu­ents and was a ment­or to young­er le­gis­lat­ors, in­clud­ing me. We will miss his wis­dom, ex­per­i­ence and friend­ship. We ex­tend our con­dol­ences to Glor­ia and the en­tire Sal­vatore fam­ily,” he said in a state­ment.

Sen­ate Pres­id­ent Pro Tem­pore Joe Scarnati and Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Domin­ic Pi­leggi is­sued the fol­low­ing state­ment:

“Hank Sal­vatore was an un­for­get­table pres­ence in the state Cap­it­ol. He was an en­er­get­ic and ef­fect­ive ad­voc­ate for the people of North­east Phil­adelphia and he left an in­delible mark on the city he loved so much. Every­one who knew Hank will miss him greatly. We ex­tend our sin­cere con­dol­ences to Sen­at­or Sal­vatore’s wife, Glor­ia, to his en­tire fam­ily, and to his many friends.”

Sal­vatore is sur­vived by his wife of al­most 67 years, Glor­ia; chil­dren Eliza­beth S. Chi­olan, Glor­ia Jean Ammlung, Frank, John and An­thony; 18 grand­chil­dren; and three great-grand­chil­dren.

A view­ing and fu­ner­al Mass were held at St. Chris­toph­er Church. Sal­vatore was bur­ied in Re­sur­rec­tion Cemetery.

Dona­tions in his memory can be made to St. Chris­toph­er Church, 13001 Proc­tor Road, Phil­adelphia, PA 19116 or the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­ation Delaware Val­ley Chapter, 399 Mar­ket St., Suite 102, Phil­adelphia, PA 19106. ••

You can reach at

comments powered by Disqus