A funeral Mass was held June 5 for Dr. Angelo Sylvestro Natale Miceli, a longtime parishioner of St. Joseph Parish in Norris, who died May 27 at the age of 107.
Dr. Miceli played the piano and organ for Masses at St. Joseph long after he turned 100, and served the parish in that role for more than 40 years. He also played piano for Masses at St. Jude Church in Helenwood for some 20 years.
In a profile of Dr. Miceli in The East Tennessee Catholic in 2016, the engineer and scientist who learned to play piano as a child said he stopped playing regularly as a young adult until he was 77 and had relocated with his wife to Norris in retirement. He explained that St. Joseph had no one to play the piano for Masses, so he volunteered. Dr. Miceli was a native of Manhattan, N.Y., born in 1913. But he grew up in Detroit, where his parents moved so his father could work in the auto industry.
He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Michigan, and his research at U.S. Rubber Co. (Uniroyal) contributed to the United States’ success in World War II with a patent that allowed rubber-lined gas tanks on planes to self-seal after punctures from bullets and prevented rubber separating from metal on tank tracks. He led research at Uniroyal, retiring as the director of the international division.
Dr. Miceli was a man of science, which carried over to his hobbies that included technology and gardening. But his greatest hobby was playing piano, which he did just hours before he died. His greatest passions were family and community, including his church community. As part of that community support, Dr. Miceli served on the Norris Development Board.
Dr. Miceli is preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Vera Elizabeth, and daughter Angela. He is survived by five children: Anthony Miceli and his wife, Cheryl, of Fowlerville, Mich.; Mary Knepper and her husband, Jay, of Andersonville; George Miceli and his wife, Susan, of Norris; Virginia Miceli of Norris; and Martha Forbes and her husband, Steve, also of Norris.
He also is survived by 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, plus two on the way.
Father Richard Armstrong, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, celebrated the funeral Mass at St. Joseph, with former St. Joseph pastors Monsignor Bill Gahagan, now retired, and Father Joseph Abuh, now pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Madisonville, concelebrating. Also concelebrating was Father Tom O’Connell. Deacon Dan Hosford of St. Joseph Parish assisted.
A graveside service at Norris Memorial Gardens immediately followed the funeral Mass.
Memorial gifts in Dr. Miceli’s name can be sent to the Norris Area Food Pantry, PO Box 327, Norris, TN 37828.