CHAMPAIGN — Family and friends remember former News-Gazette building superintendent Steve Farruggia as a man who was devoted to his work, enjoyed sports and was dedicated to his family.
Mr. Farruggia, 88, of Champaign, died Tuesday. He worked for The News-Gazette from October 1938 until his retirement in September 2004.
"Steve Farruggia was a treasured member of The News-Gazette family for most of his life," News-Gazette Publisher and President John Foreman said. "No company ever had a more loyal or more dedicated employee. His contribution over more than six decades will never be equaled.
"Our sympathies go out to his entire family. We truly share in their loss."
Mr. Farruggia's oldest daughter, Sharon Godsil of Monmouth, said her father was dedicated to teaching Biblical principles to his children as they grew up and enjoyed traveling with his family.
"We would go to Colorado together as a family, and we would take part in chuck wagon dinners and go sightseeing," she said.
His youngest daughter, Terri Farruggia of Savoy, said he inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.
"He encouraged me to become a nurse," she said. "Now I have been a nurse for over 30 years, and he couldn't be prouder of me."
She says her father was a fixture in the stands watching her play softball.
"He and my mother would come to every game they could," she said. "He would cheer us on and pick up our spirits when we didn't do very well."
Current News-Gazette building superintendent Terry McCartney, who worked with Mr. Farruggia for 23 years, said Mr. Farruggia brought a standard of excellence to the company.
"When you did something here, you did it the first time, and you did it right," McCartney said. "By holding that standard, an employee takes pride in his workmanship and feels a certain ownership to the company."
McCartney said Mr. Farruggia devoted his life both to his job and to his family.
"He told me that the job is very important, but never let it become more important than your family," McCartney said.
McCartney described Mr. Farruggia as an athletic man who enjoyed playing football and boxing.
"When he was in his 50s, Steve still had a speed bag for boxing in his basement that hung in the corner," he said. "He enjoyed the sport of boxing, and we would talk about the various boxing matches."
"He watched boxing all the time on television, and he got involved in any fight that he watched," Godsil said.
McCartney said Mr. Farruggia was devoted to his grandchildren, would take them every year to Indiana Beach and loved to watch them play there.
News-Gazette pressman George Mason, who worked for Mr. Farruggia for several decades, said the life of his former boss revolved around the newspaper.
"Steve usually came down here for every shift just to make sure everyone was here," Mason said. "I think this place was more part of his life than just a job. He was a pretty good man to work for, and he was good to me."
News-Gazette pressroom foreman Bob Brown described Mr. Farruggia as a friendly man who provided leadership through changes and improvements at the newspaper.
"After he retired, Steve would often swing by, say hi, and get a Chicago Tribune (which was still printed here at the time) out of the garbage and bring back the one he had from the day before to recycle it," Brown said.
Retired News-Gazette assistant foreman Ferdie Walters said he has known Mr. Farruggia since 1964.
"He was fair to work for, and if he told you to do something, you'd better do it," Walters said.
Walters said he admired Mr. Farruggia's dedication to the newspaper business.
"My goodness gracious, he was about as dedicated as you could get," Walters said. "I think his whole life was this newspaper."