Born in Canton to fathers who emigrated from Italy in 1920, Fred and Virginia Olivieri were well known in their high schools. “Personality, football queen and talented” were words describing Virginia. “Freddie” was the “life of the party.” Not much has changed since those days, as Fred and Virginia put their personalities and talents together to make a dynamic impact in the community in which they grew up and have loved.
Together they founded the Fred Olivieri Construction Company in December of 1959 – sixty years ago – in the basement of their 21st Street NW home. What started as a home building business, quickly turned into commercial contracting when the company landed its first commercial job – an addition to a church in McDonaldsville, Ohio.
Their skills complement each other, and they are the perfect match. Married 67 years, they have always been a team. Their children, Christine and Dean said, “Both our parents worked. Mom ran the office, paid the bills and typed up a storm. She was the vice-president of the company. Dad was the president and did everything from estimating jobs to working in the field.”
The hallmark of their business has always been growth and innovation which led them into areas they never imagined back in their basement office days. In the 1960’s, during the boom of a “gas station on every corner” era, they built 125 gas stations. The 1970’s brought them McDonald’s and to date they have built or remodeled 500. In the 1980’s Fred and Virginia passed on the presidency of Fred Olivieri Construction Company to their son Dean who, through Fred and Virginia’s mentorship, has continued the vision and innovation of his parents.
“Philanthropy has always been important to our parents,” say Chris and Dean. “They say ‘modeling is the best way to teach children.’ Mom and Dad showed us by doing. It was simply instilled in us to give back from a young age.”
They have been life-long members of St. Michael’s Catholic Church which has nurtured the enduring faith that has guided them throughout their lives. Their desire to put their faith into action has led them to be very generous to the causes they have loved in their community including Walsh University, Aultman Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, and The American Heart Association. Members of United Way of Greater Stark County’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society for nearly 25 years, they have passed that spirit of giving and making a difference in their community on to their family and entire company.
“Although our parents are hardworking, that is only one aspect of them. We were taught, again by example, that family comes first. They were at every band concert, football game, play and baseball game. Every night there were family dinners as well as family vacations every summer,” say their kids. They continue that philosophy with their six granddaughters – Dean and Grace’s girls: Sarah and Tony Johnson, Emily Olivieri, and Rachel and David Doria, as well as Christine’s daughters – Taylor and Andy Johnson, Dana and Andrew Bilinovich, and Paige Hackett. Coming up to learn from their great grandparents are four great grandchildren. Sarah and Tony’s children – Nathan, Ava, and Elliott as well as Rachel and David’s son, Dean.
Fred and Virginia have been blessed by their family, but we the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have enjoyed the gift of unconditional love and true mentorship from Fred and Virginia Olivieri.
Fred and Virginia Olivieri are being honored by Dean and Grace Olivieri, Christine Olivieri Hackett, and the Olivieri Family.