Armando F. “Gus” Lusi
Armando F. “Gus” Lusi, 92, died at his home on March 14, 2017. He was the beloved husband of Helen (Chapla) Lusi.
He was the son of the late Luigi and Madalena (Sardelli) Lusi, who had both immigrated from Ponte de Gorvo, Italy. Armando, or “Gus” as he was known, was born in Johnston, RI, in the village of Thornton, the second-oldest of five children, all first-generation Americans. Gus attended Thornton School and LaSalle Academy, Class of 1942, and graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1947 with a degree in civil engineering, thanks in part to the GI bill. Gus called his time at URI some of the best years of his life and never lost his affection for his alma mater. He was a brother of Sigma Chi. During college he worked as a short-order cook and ran track as a sprinter, competing in the quarter-mile race several times in the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York. World War II interrupted Gus’s college career when he was called up to the Army Corps of Engineers. He served in Company C of the 259th Engineer Combat Battalion, rebuilding Japan after the Allied victory.
After the war and finishing college Gus headed south to Miami and worked surveying the glades and pinelands that would become the booming cities of south Florida. From there he headed to Maine to work on the construction of the Limestone Air Force Base, followed by a year in Toledo, Ohio, working for the M.W. Kellog Company building an oil refinery. In 1950 Gus returned to RI and founded A.F. Lusi Construction, Inc., at first doing garages and small additions, then homes and gas stations. Over the next fifty years he built his company from a local homebuilder into a regional public works general contractor, building projects in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In 1958 Gus married Helen Chapla, an elementary school teacher and floral designer from Latrobe, PA. In 1961 they designed and built their home in a wooded dell in Johnston. Over decades it became a gathering place for family and friends. Many happy occasions culminated in sing-alongs with Gus on guitar and Helen on piano. From 1953 to 1962 Gus volunteered as head of the Johnston Sewer Board, and spent many hours overseeing the planning and installation of the town’s first and still-primary sanitary sewer system. Gus was a life member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the RI Board of Engineers. He was a past President of the RI Associated General Contractors and served for many years as a trustee of the Laborer’s Union Health and Safety Fund. He was a longtime member of the Alpine Country Club, a past President of the Johnston Lions Club and a member of that club for 64 years.
Gus loved his work and never officially retired. His wit, intelligence, and generosity made him friends from many walks of life. The sound of his laugh was famous. Even in later years Gus’s sunny disposition and lighthearted grit made him a joy to all. No matter whom he was talking to, Gus was there, present, with a handshake, eye contact, and the respectful regard he gave everyone who crossed his path.
He is survived by his wife Helen; his brother, A. Robert Lusi and sister, Olga O’Brien; and his children: Armand T. Lusi and his wife, Leslie of Warwick, RI; Susan H. Lusi of Washington, DC; John F. Lusi of Providence, RI; Joseph M. Lusi and Rebecca Foster, of Providence, RI; Michael A. Lusi of Johnston, RI; and four granddaughters- Annie, Madeline, Amelia, and Lilly. He was also the brother of the late Dora (Lusi) D’Abbraccio.
His funeral was held Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 7:45 a.m. from the PRATA-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, 78 Providence Street, West Warwick. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 9:00 a.m. in St. Rocco Church, Atwood Ave., Johnston. Interment followed with military honors in Highland Memorial Park, Johnston. Visiting hours were Friday, March 17, 2017 from 4-7 p.m.
Donations may be made in Armando’s memory to the Johnston Lions Armand Muto Scholarship Fund at www.rifoundation.org or by sending a check, made payable to the Rhode Island Foundation (indicate fund name on check) to Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903. Information and condolences, please visit: PrataGallogly.com