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Steven Vitanza

05/11/1949 — 01/20/2021

Steven Vitanza (Steve, Papa), age 71 of Eastlake, passed away at Hillcrest Hospital on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Steve was born, May 11, 1949 in Cleveland, Ohio to the late Joseph and Doris (nee Frusterio) Vitanza. The family moved to Lyndhurst, Ohio where Steve graduated in 1967 from Charles F. Brush High School. 

Handsome and loving husband of Jo Ann (nee Miska) for 49 years.  Devoted and Loving Father of Steven (Mary), Andrea (Tony) Russo and Gina (George, III) Burich. Loving and Protective Papa to Alexis (Ben) Zak, Morgan (Grant Harris) and Adriana Vitanza, Braeden Burich, Victoria Russo, Josie Burich and Olivia Russo, as well as great grandfather to Paisley Grace Harris. Loving brother of Nancy (John, deceased) Ciani. 

A lover of music, Steve studied music and music theory at Cuyahoga Community College and Lakeland College, School of Music before being drafted. Steve proudly served in the US Navy, assigned to the USS Canisteo, with tours of duty in the Mediterranean, Europe and Vietnam.   

A gifted musician Steve played many musical instruments, sax, clarinet, flute, and piano.  While playing sax in a band called the Holidays at Hires Lounge, Steve asked to be introduced to who would then become his wife, Jo Ann.  They started dating in 1969 and married in 1971.  She always said that he was “her best gift.” 

Known as “Captain Safety” to family and close friends.  He was very protective of each and every family member insuring that whatever was needed was done to keep them all safe. Steve not only took care of his family with loving care, but also that of his home with everything meticulously cared for. 

Retiring just a few years ago, Steve worked for over 50 plus years in the grocery and retail industry.  Retiring as grocery manager from Giant Eagle in Mentor, Ohio.  He also was head bartender and bartending scheduler for Normandy Party Center, a job which he thoroughly enjoyed. 

Steve was all things good, he was a devoted husband, father, and Papa, loving, caring and hard-working.  He insured that his family was well taken care of and worked several jobs providing for their education, weddings and needs, all of which were so greatly appreciated.  He was so loved by his family and his love, care and dedication will forever be appreciated. He will always be with us as a fine example of what true love really means. God bless you Papa and let the “Big Guy” upstairs welcome you home! 

The family would like to thank Dr. Vinit Makkar and his entire staff at Hillcrest Hospital, Hematology/Oncology and Seidman 3rd Floor for their compassionate care. 

In lieu of flowers, please donate a gift of blood and platelets as a gift of life.

A funeral mass will be held at 10 AM Monday, January 25 at St. Justin Martyr Church, 35781 Stevens Blvd., Eastlake. Burial at All Souls Cemetery. Masks and social distancing will be required.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Jeff Monreal Funeral Services.


  1. Jo Ann Vitanza

    To my handsome and wonderful husband. Thank you for everything. For working hard and providing us more than we ever expected and for loving us endlessly. You were the best of me and I was one lucky and spoiled woman. I love you so much. God took you from me, but he gave you to me. You are in everything I do. May God let you rest and enjoy the new home he will provide you. Till we meet again. Love you always and forever and ever, Jo

    Jo Ann Vitanza
  2. Brian Lutz

    Dear Jo Ann,
    When i came into Lorry’s life , I also came into the world of Hartmans, Burich and Vitanza. Tough crowd, yet the one constant was Steve. The first time and the last time, we met he never wavered. We know some of the same people and he made me feel welcome, like no one else. Thank you for sharing Steve with me.

    Brian Lutz
  3. Aileen Finkel

    I am so very very sorry about Steve. He was a great husband to. A living father to your kids. My heart aches for you my friend. Hugs and kisses to you

    Aileen Finkel
  4. Andrea Vitanza Russo

    The world lost the most hardworking, protective, loving, beautiful, selfless soul. He was the greatest Dad and Papa, and a friend to everyone! There will never be a better example of how to love unconditionally. My brother, sister and I hit the jackpot when it came to Dads … we had the best! I will love you and miss you until the end of my days, Dad.

    Andrea Vitanza Russo
  5. Mike Romeo

    Many years ago I worked as an inventory clerk at MARCS. While working for Steve I met my wife. He showed me kindness, trust and compassion. You the man Big Guy!!!

    Mike Romeo
  6. Larry and Barb Moore

    Steve we are so sorry for your loss. Are heart goes out to you . We pray the holy spirit will comfort you at this time. Again we are so sorry!

    Larry and Barb Moore
  7. We are sorry for your loss! Steve was such a loving ,kind and caring family man! He will truly be missed!
    He was always so much fun to be around! Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you!
    Rest In Peace Steve!

  8. Bob Tyler

    Steve, to you, your Mom, and the entire family you have my sincere condolences. It was a privilege to have known him, he truly was a good man. Please know you’re all in my thoughts and prayers.

    Bob Tyler
  9. Joe and JoAnn Weiland

    We are so sad to hear the passing of cousin Steve! Joe always said “Steve, he’s a good guy”. He always put family first!! Always willing to give a hand! Love you and will miss you! ❤❤

    Joe and JoAnn Weiland
  10. Lorry Lutz

    Jo Ann and Family , I will deeply miss one of the kindest ,loving and hard working man I know. He was always there to take care of all of you and when my husband passed 18 years ago i felt good knowing my son had someone to look up to and go to . Thanks Steve!!! I just don’t know who is going to step up in the Safety Department ?!You will be Deeply missed ,Love and Prayers.

    Lorry Lutz
  11. Carol Behum

    So sorry To hear about your dad he was a great guy I did work for him a little bit but I also know him from the Normandie for weddings And he was a great bartender you take care love your friend Carol

    Carol Behum
  12. Tony and Katy Giancola

    Dearest Jo and family. We will miss his laughter…he was a great bartender .. always smiling! Our heart is grieving with yours Joanne and there are no words to express the sorrow in our hearts. Please know that our deepest sympathy and our love are with you…thanks for the great memories Steve!!

    Tony and Katy Giancola
  13. Brady Burich

    It’s sad to see the man that I used to wrestle in my living room part away from me. I was extremely blessed to have such a great grandfather. We all miss you,
    Brady (George) Burich

    Brady Burich
  14. Carol Nagy

    Dear Jo Ann, Steve, and family,
    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband (dad, papa, great grandfather, brother, and friend to many), I didn’t really know him all that well, he seemed like a very quiet man, but I can tell from your obituary, just how special and loved he was. My condolences to you and your entire family, I pray God will comfort you all during this difficult time.

    Carol Nagy
  15. Tony and Katy Giancola

    Dearest Jo, please know that our hearts are grieving with yours. You and your Steve have given us some of our best memories. We will miss his laughter…he was the best bartender. JoAnn, there are no words to express our sorrow. Our deepest sympathy and our love are with you, Sweetheart, and your family.

    Tony and Katy Giancola
  16. Brandon Paull

    I am so sorry for your loss, he was such a great guy and full of laughter. My brother worked in produce at the time and he told him that he was in a metal band with me and I remember him coming up to me and asking for my autograph ( haha). He would make me laugh and I fully enjoyed talking to him when I would shop and visit. Again, I’m so sorry for your loss and he will truly be missed.

    Brandon Paull
  17. Morgan Vitanza.

    The sweetest most caring man was taken from us too soon. Thank you for being such a great impact in my life and always cheering me on during my sporting events. You will be forever missed. Please watch over all of us. I love you so much.

    Morgan Vitanza.
  18. Peggy Shockey

    Jo Ann. I am so very sorry for your loss of your husband. You two were such a happy couple and I enjoyed your friendship when the girls grew up as friends.
    Love and hugs to you and your family at this difficult time!

    Peggy Shockey
  19. Steve Vitanza

    Our dear, dear friends, Our heartfelt sympathy is with you Jo, , and all of the family. We love you all. It was a true blessing to know your Steve and to share this friendship all these years. We have the very best memories of the very best guy! Men like Steve are few and far between. The best thing is, you all knew that and cherished him everyday. God be with you . Much love, Lois & Dave

    Steve Vitanza
  20. Adriana Vitanza

    The most amazing papa and man I’ve ever met. You had the sweetest soul and everyone absolutely adored you. I’ll miss hearing your voice get so excited when I call or when I would walk through your front door. You had the most goofy and fun personality, which I’ll miss so much. God gave us such an amazing gift of having you in our lives for such a long time and now, he needed you back. I love you forever and always, papa. I know you’re always going to be looking down on all of us. ❤️

    Adriana Vitanza
  21. Gina Burich

    Dad, thank you for a lovely life, I am honored to be your daughter. Mom, you are the bravest person I know, you cared for dad daily while advocating for his health every step of the way. Thank you for being the glue that held us together during these difficult times.

    Gina Burich
  22. Vanessa Jones

    Dearest Fluffy! You will be missed by many. Annie, Gina and Jo Ann, I am so very sorry for Steve’s passing. I know he will forever live in your hearts! Love yall, Vanessa

    Vanessa Jones
  23. Gina, Andrea, Jo Ann

    Dearest Fluffy! You will be missed by so many.
    Gina, Annie and JoAnn, so sorry for the passing of Steve. Sending love to yall!! Vanessa

    Gina, Andrea, Jo Ann
  24. Chuck and Gayle Lucas

    Steve So sorry for you and your families loss. Your dad was a great guy, I enjoyed all the times working with him. He will be greatly missed.

    Chuck and Gayle Lucas
  25. Mary Vitanza

    I can start by saying I always looked at you as a second father. You were that special to me and I love you like I love my own dad!
    I thank you for treating me like a daughter and I felt welcomed in your family from day 1, 32 years ago. You were one of the kindest, sweetest, caring and most protective men I ever knew.
    I am truly blessed to have had you in my life since I was a teenager. My daughters and grand daughter are so lucky to have had YOU as their papa! You should get an award along with mom( nana) for being the most loving and involved grandparents in the world!!
    Mom is amazing and strong and did everything in her power to give you the best care humanly possible. She is a role model to all women as you are to all men.
    I think I hit the jackpot when I married Steve and you became my second parents❤️
    Dad you will forever be in my heart and I already miss you! Heaven truly gained a unique and awesome man.

    Mary Vitanza
  26. Patty & Bud White

    Jo Ann so sorry for your loss. I remember the day of your wedding and was part of that wonderful day. Steve was a great guy for sure. Many wonderful nights at Hires and convincing you to give him a chance…so glad you’ve had almost 50 years together. RIP Steve.

    Patty & Bud White
  27. Alexis (Vitanza) Zak

    I couldn’t have asked for anything better. He was the most wonderful papa. He made my childhood one of safety, love and support. I miss and love you more than I can express.

    Alexis (Vitanza) Zak
  28. sam joseph vitanza


    sam joseph vitanza
  29. Bill and Julia Schneider

    We are so sorry for your loss. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. We love your family and always enjoyed talking with you all. Please know the family from Cincinnati is always here for you.
    We love you

    Bill and Julia Schneider

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