WILKES-BARRE — Joe Musto talked about the death of his older brother Thursday, calling former state Sen. Ray Musto “a good man” who helped many people.
Ray Musto, 85, died Thursday around 9 a.m. at home, surrounded by his family.
“My brother was a great role model for me,” Joe Musto, 70, said. “He was a very caring and kind person who was genuinely concerned about everybody — family, friends, and constituents.”
He said his brother was a good legislator and a statesman.
“He was a great man, and he did so much for so many,” Musto said. “He lived a good life.”
Musto, a former Luzerne County judge, said his brother was “very sick” in his final days.
“He certainly bore his own cross,” he said. “It’s so sad to lose him. But we know he has gone to the next glorious place.”
Musto recalled the days when he would follow Ray around the family’s grocery store. He said he followed him throughout his career.
“It’s hard to put into words how we all are feeling today,” Musto said. “We were very close. He will be missed.”
Musto’s niece, former Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll, said her uncle died with his wife, Frances, at his side.
“He had a lifetime of service. He was a good man. He helped a lot of people in our area,” she said. “I am proud to say he was my uncle.”
Family members were grateful for the few weeks Musto was able to spend at home with them before he died, Musto Carroll said, including their final Easter celebration together. “Everyone in the family was grateful that he was able to do that,” she said.
Following are comments from some others who knew Musto from his five-decade political career:
State Sen. John Yudichak, who won Musto’s seat after the longtime senator retired: “At this time my thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Ray Musto’s wife, Fran, who just lost her loving husband of more than fifty years. I would also like to extend my deepest sympathies to the entire Musto family, extended family and friends as they mourn the passing of a father and a friend.”
Former Monroe County Commissioner James Cadue knew Musto since the early 1970s and worked for him when he won a special election to Congress after the resignation of U.S. Rep. Dan Flood in 1980.
“I love Ray Musto,” said Cadue, 66, of Reeders. “He taught me everything — how to be kind to people and how to work hard for the people. He made me a better county commissioner. I will never forget him.”
Cadue said he drove Musto throughout the 11th Congressional District, visiting towns and spending time talking to constituents.
“I watched people arrive at 9 a.m. and wait all day just to meet with him,” Cadue said. “The people loved him; it was obvious. He taught me how to work in government and how to get things done. I have nothing but good things to say about Ray Musto.”
Former State Rep. Tom Tigue said he was fortunate to know Musto, calling him “a good friend” whom he respected.
“I think Ray Musto was the one who set the standard for constituent service,” Tigue said. “He would listen to anyone and seek a solution no matter who they were or what they did. He really was a people person.”
Tigue said Musto’s whole life centered on his family.
“I think if you asked the people he served with in Harrisburg — Democrats and Republicans — without exception, they would tell you he would work with anybody to get things done,” Tigue said.
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Nelligan defeated Musto in his re-election attempt, but the two men were never adversaries.
“Politically, we were like night and day,” Nelligan said. “But personally, we were very friendly. We often talked and I often suspected he was a little more conservative than his party. His family, especially his wife, were terrific. We would often meet on the campaign trail. Ray and I never had a bad word. We never argued. He was a gentleman and treated me wonderfully and I treated him the same.”
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton: “I was saddened to learn of Sen. Musto’s death. My memories and experiences with Sen. Musto were good ones. When I was mayor of Hazleton, he was a good friend to the city, always doing what he could to help our community. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. May he finally rest in peace.”
State Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald: “I extend condolences to the Musto family. I had limited experience with the senator during my service in the (Gov. ed) Rendell administration and I appreciated his work on environmental and water-quality issues. I believe he was instrumental in establishing PennVest, which has assisted in financing wastewater treatment facilities throughout the state.”
State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca: “Ray Musto spent his career serving the citizens of Northeastern Pennsylvania in various important elected capacities, including serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the district I currently represent. I have the utmost respect for Ray and the entire Musto family for working to make our region a desirable place to raise a family.”
Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa: “Sen. Musto was a champion of the environment, a legislative force and a friend who always had a kind word to help his colleagues during difficult times. He was a lawmaker of depth, substance and compassion. He took time to learn issues and he used his experience and expertise to benefit the citizens of Luzerne County and Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“From legislation that established curbside recycling to Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program and the landmark legislation to spur the development of abandoned industrial property, Sen. Musto played a significant role in crafting environmental policy in his nearly 40 years in the legislature.
“During his long years of public service, he achieved a great deal for Northeastern Pennsylvania. His contributions will live on and his policy footprint will continue to guide future generations. Pennsylvania is a better place today because of Senator Ray Musto’s service.”
Gloria Blandina, Care and Concern Free Health Clinic: “He was a dear friend. Not only to me, but to so many people. When we first opened the (clinic in Pittston) he was a wonderful supporter. He was just wanting us to succeed. He was so caring and was concerned about us. I was terribly saddened when I heard about his passing. I do wish his family well.”
Businessman Joe Joyce, Pittston: “He was a great guy with a great family. I feel sorry for his wife and their family. He brought downtown Pittston back. He wasn’t even convicted and I feel bad for his family that they put him in federal prison. My heart reaches out to the family, it really does.”
Nicholas Malasto, NEPA Tattoo Club: “We knew Musto’s genuine feeling for making Pittston a better place. We want to preserve that and extend ourselves twice as much to making his dream come true in making Pittston a grand city and respected among other cities.”
Carmen Saporito, Pittston: “He was a good man. He was a good father and family man. He was good for the area and always did everything he could for the people around here. Everybody makes mistakes in life.”
Armand Fillipini, Musto’s former chief of staff “Speaking on behalf of his former staff, we lost a friend and mentor today. During his years in the legislature, he fought hard for the environment, the middle class and the disadvantaged. He performed many acts of kindness and compassion without publicity. He will be missed.”
Sunday Dispatch Reporter Nick Wagner contributed to this report.