Papa Pete Remembered
Pietro "Pete" Mucci came to America from Italy in 1947 as a 21-year-old man with a third-grade education, a strong work ethic and the shoe-making skills he learned as a young boy.
He had a shoe repair shop in Detroit for a decade before he opened Pete's Shoe Repair in downtown Plymouth, where he had a 37-year run until he sold it in 1995. He began in an old wooden building where the Penn Theatre now stands, but most of the years his shop was tucked away on Fleet Street.
The mayor of Fleet Street, friends called him.
"He knew everybody," his middle son, Vincenzo "Vince" Mucci of Canton, said, "and everybody loved him."
Mucci, 91, died peacefully Tuesday at the Plymouth home where he had lived with his wife of 60 years, Margherita, since 1966.
"He was still drinking homemade wine and smoking cigarettes the night before he died," Vince Mucci said.
Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock remembers as a young boy taking shoes to Pete Mucci for repairs and how the shop smelled of leather.
"I was always interested in all the machinery he had there in the shoe shop," he said.
Sometimes, Sincock was accompanied by his own Italian mother, who would occasionally speak the language of the old country with Mucci.
Mucci came to the United States with his mother in 1947, an immigrant who tapped into the American dream. He moved his own family to Plymouth in 1966.
"He fell in love with Plymouth," Vince Mucci said. "It was a rural, family town that reminded him of the old country."
The Mucci family still has a pasta-making business in Canton, Mama Mucci's Pasta, started in 1989 by Vince Mucci and younger brother Francesco "Frank" Mucci. The brothers started out in Plymouth and later moved to Canton.
Vince Mucci recalls how customers would come to Pete's Shoe Repair and socialize.
"It was like a barber shop," he said.
Although Pete Mucci only had a third-grade education, he became successful and put his three sons — Vince, Frank and eldest brother Anthony — through college.
Sincock said Pete Mucci was an integral part of Plymouth.
Pete Mucci (Photo: Submitted)
"As a businessman and as a community member, I think he was always a very passionate person and he was always willing to express his viewpoint," Sincock said.
He also had a penchant for trying to convince others to share his viewpoint, Sincock said.
"I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him," he said.
Vince Mucci, when asked how he would like his father to be remembered, said, "He was a very kind man. He didn't bother anybody. He didn't ask for anything. He was very kind and good-natured. He grew up very poor, sometimes without food. He was a simple, honest man."
Pete Mucci, the son of Antonio and Carmella (nee Basile) Mucci, was born Nov. 6, 1925, in Montelongo, Italy. Nine years after he came to the United States, he moved briefly back to Italy with his mother and met his wife, bringing her to Michigan.
Survivors include his wife Margherita; three children, Anthony (Patricia) Mucci, Vincenzo (Amy) Mucci and Francesco (Jennifer Price) Mucci, and granddaughters Gabriella Mucci and Julia Mucci.
Visitation was set for 5-9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at Schrader-Howell Funeral Home, 280 S. Main St., in Plymouth, with a rosary at 8:30 p.m. Visitation also was set from 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, until the time of funeral mass at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 47650 N. Territorial Road.
Mucci's entombment was set for Riverside Cemetery in Plymouth. In lieu of flowers, the Mucci family requests memorial contributions be made in memory of Pietro "Pete" Mucci to the Rugiero Promise Foundation, benefiting diabetes research at the University of Michigan, 220 Canton Center Road, Canton, MI 48187. Donations also may be made through PayPal at http://www.rugieropromise.org/.