Industry veteran was steadfast in his support of North American furniture manufacturing
NAPLES, Fla. — John Anthony Scarsella, Jr., an industry veteran who devoted many years of hard work to North American wood furniture production, died on Dec. 22 following a brief illness. He was 81.
Scarsella was born March 3, 1942, and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. He got his start in the business by working at Scarsella Furniture, his family’s furniture and appliance retail store.
Following his graduation from Youngstown State University, he joined the United States Marine Corps and served a tour of duty in Vietnam before retiring as captain.
When he left the service in 1968, he returned to Northeast Ohio and opened a small furniture store call The Homestead House in the Youngstown suburb of Boardman, Ohio. Over the next 15 years, he expanded his store extensively to include a 40,000-square-foot showroom, the first ever Pennsylvania House Gallery, a carpet center, a home restoration business and two of the first La-Z-Boy Showcase Shoppes in the country.
Following challenging economic times of the late 1970s that hit Northeast Ohio particularly hard, he transitioned from the retail to the manufacturing side of the industry, focusing on small, fledgling furniture producers. In this capacity, his retail experience proved invaluable in helping drive their market penetration.
Over the next 23 years, he played an integral role in the creation, development and growth of several highly successful manufacturers across North America, including Jamestown Sterling, Hale of Vermont and Jasper Cabinet.
In 1994, he began working with Canadian solid wood bedroom producer Durham Furniture and over the next 12 years, his team built one of the most successful and respected wood furniture producers in the industry.
A highlight of his professional career was spearheading a partnership between Durham Furniture and The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the organization charged with preserving and maintaining the home and legacy of George Washington. Through this partnership, the architecture and furnishings of the Mount Vernon estate inspired the designs seen in the licensed collection, one of the most popular and successful in the company’s history.
Scarsella retired as chief executive officer of Durham Furniture in 2006.
He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Jean; four sons, John, Paul, Michael and Nick; and nine grandchildren.
A viewing will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, at the Higgins-Reardon funeral home in Canfield, Ohio.
A military funeral will be held on Friday, Jan. 5, at 12:15 p.m. at the Western Reserve National Cemetery 10175 Rawiga Road Seville, Ohio.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any contributions go to a charity of one’s choice.