LEWISTOWN, PA -- Frank J. Guerrini, who founded Frank Guerrini Vending Machines here in 1939, died in late April. He was 98.
Born in Rome, Italy, in 1912, Guerrini and his family immigrated to the United States when he was eight years old. Attaining an eighth-grade education, he held various jobs and operated several small businesses before launching Frank Guerrini Vending Machines. He employed his brother Pat as a technician. Today, the company operates amusement and music equipment throughout central Pennsylvania in locations ranging from taverns and clubs through skating rinks and bowling and family entertainment centers to national retail accounts.
Long active in industry and community affairs, Guerrini served on the board of the Pennsylvania Amusement and Music Machine Association in the 1960s and '70s, and became PAMMA secretary.
Frank's son Del joined the company in 1972 after graduating from Villanova University. He became vice-president and a partner in 1985. For nearly 20 years, the two operated more than 750 games in Wal-Mart stores throughout Pennsylvania, receiving many awards. Del took full ownership in 1995, but recalls that he was unable to persuade his father (then 83) to stop working. "Talking to customers and suppliers was something he never tired of," Del recalled. In 1997, illness caused him to cut back to two or three days a week, and he kept this schedule after his recovery, right through the week before his death.
"I was very fortunate to have my dad around almost every day for all these years," Del said. " His insight was invaluable, not only in a business sense, but also in the way he viewed life as a whole. In the early years he did everything: collecting, repairing and moving equipment seven days a week, sometimes until 1 a.m., to establish his business." Many people have told him of his father's assisting them in starting businesses of their own and giving them a hand during periods of adversity.
"He never forgot his own tough beginnings, and had a soft spot for hiring anyone down on their luck," Del explained. "It has been an honor to share his business as a partner and a son."
Frank Guerrini is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marie; children Sylvester, Joseph, Frank, Del and Debra; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.