Obituary of Rocco Paul Scaramastra
Rocco Paul Scaramastra, 85, passed away on Oct. 16, 2023, in Santa Barbara, Calif., of complications from Lewy body dementia.
Born on April 22, 1938, in Scranton, Penn., Rocco was the eleventh child of Rocco Scaramastra and Caterina Anna (Schiappa) Scaramastra.
Rocco graduated from West Scranton High School before joining the United States Marine Corps in June 1956. He served as a U.S. Marine for three years, travelling throughout Asia and Europe while working as a radio repairman. He was promoted to sergeant before being honorably discharged in 1959.
Shortly after, he moved to California with his sister Ann Marie and began working as an electrical technician at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Among other tasks at JPL, he worked on the team that made it possible for the 1969 moon landing to be viewed on television.
He met Margaret Ann (Peggy) Doll in December 1962 and the two were married at the San Gabriel Mission on July 6, 1963. They settled in Tujunga, Calif., and had three children — Donald, Donna, and Deborah — whom they both adored. Over the years he coached softball, cheered at kids’ sporting events, attended every piano recital he possibly could, and joined his beloved family most every evening for dinner, no matter what was going on at work. He and Peggy took their kids camping, fishing, and hiking every summer.
Rocco’s father-in-law, Byron Emerson Doll, encouraged him to go to college and to pursue his goal of becoming an engineer. He enrolled at West Coast University in 1966 while continuing to work full time, earning his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1970.
When he started his own engineering company a few years later, he named it Roby Systems in part to honor Byron.
As the owner of Roby Systems, he spent 16 years consulting with aerospace firms across the region, including Teledyne and Lockheed. He then returned to JPL, where he worked on projects to include the Mars Pathfinder and Cassini-Huygens. A replica of the Sojourner Rover, which he helped create, is in the Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, Va.; his grandchildren enjoyed seeing “Bampa’s car” whenever they visited the museum. For his part, Rocco was proud that the Pathfinder lander and its Sojourner Rover outlived their design lives by three and 12 times, respectively.
Rocco and Peggy moved to Vashon Island, Wash., in 2000. They later relocated to Redmond, Wash., to be closer to their grandchildren.
In 2019 they moved again, this time to the Valle Verde community in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Rocco was a contrarian who enjoyed playing devil's advocate in any debate, a free-thinking skeptic (when his daughter briefly worked for Enron, he proclaimed it “a check kiting scheme” — two years before it went bankrupt), and the hardest-working person you'd ever hope to meet. Even as his disease required him to live in a memory care facility and limited his mobility, he insisted on making his own bed, helping clean the communal kitchen, and tending the garden (including, most memorably, by wielding a leaf blower).
It is impossible to describe how much he contributed to this world, and how very much he will be missed by the many who were fortunate to know and love him.
Rocco was predeceased by his parents, Rocco and Caterina Anna; sisters Joanne (Jennie), Vincentina, Mary, Candida (Connie), Adeline, and Ann Marie; brothers Nicholas, Angelo, Vincent, and Julio; father-in-law Byron Doll; and mother-in-law Isabella (McGibbon) Doll. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Peggy Scaramastra; and three children: Donald Scaramastra, Donna Gorman (and spouse Bart), and Deborah Losleben (and spouse Aaron). He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Emilia and Matthias Scaramastra; Seamus, Aidan, Kyra, and Ainsley Gorman; Riley Losleben; and Emma Vaughan.
There will be a viewing on Nov. 16 from 3-5 p.m. at the McDermott-Crockett Mortuary in Santa Barbara, Calif. A funeral mass will be held at the Santa Barbara Mission on November 17, 2023. Burial will take place at the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Donations in Rocco’s name may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association at lbda.org.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rocco Scaramastra, please visit Tribute Store