Tiberio J. Panaccio, 91, the last civilian commander of the Frankford Arsenal when it finally closed in 1982, died Tuesday, Oct. 2, of kidney failure at Briarleaf hospice in Doylestown.
Mr. Panaccio, a longtime Philadelphia resident, had been living with his daughter, Linda Anne Kalski, in Furlong, Bucks County, she said.
The Frankford Arsenal was officially closed in 1977 but did not fully shut down until 1982. And that's when Mr. Panaccio retired after a nearly four-decade civilian career at the historic munitions facility, which at its height had 22,000 workers and produced 1½ billion bullets during World War II — "every small-caliber round fired by American troops in the European and Pacific theaters," the Washington Post reported in 1977.
Mr. Panaccio was "the man who locked all the doors" when the Frankford Arsenal shut down, according to a 1986 Inquirer article.
Mr. Panaccio was born in Philadelphia to Italian immigrants Domenic and Filomena Panaccio. He was the last of 15 children, and one of only six who survived past early childhood, his daughter said.
In 1944, at age 16, he graduated from Northeast High School and went to work at the arsenal. Before World War II ended the next year, he joined the Navy and served for 18 months until 1946. He then returned to the arsenal, where he held many supervisory positions until he was appointed to the civilian commander role.
He met his future wife, Janice Flanagan, when she took a job as his secretary when she was 19 and he was 25.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Mr. Panaccio was involved in coordinating possible evacuations of civilians in Philadelphia in case of nuclear war, his daughter said.
She recalled that he would bring home military survival rations for her to taste.
Mr. Panaccio had a sharp mind and excelled at crossword puzzles, and once won a $25,000 prize in a puzzle competition during the 1980s, his daughter said.
He was predeceased by his wife in 2012.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Panaccio is survived by a son, Tim, and a niece, Lisa, whom he regarded as a daughter.
The viewing and funeral will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at Beck-Givnish Funeral Home, 7400 New Falls Rd., Levittown. Interment will follow at Resurrection Cemetery at 5201 Hulmeville Rd. in Bensalem.
Contributions in his memory can be made to Cat Tales Inc., P.O. Box 165, Warminster, Pa. 18976.