Cafaros give $1.75 million to YSU
YOUNGSTOWN – Two buildings on the Youngstown State University campus were renamed in honor of a longtime influential Mahoning Valley family that has provided a $1.75 million gift to the university.
“Our heartfelt thanks to J.J. and Jan (Cafaro) for this generous gift and continued strong support for the university, our students and the entire Mahoning Valley community,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.
Tressel was among those who spoke during a special outdoor ceremony Friday at YSU to honor the Cafaro family for its gift, as well as to formally rename the buildings after them.
Specifically, the university is to rename the Lincoln Building as J.J. and Janet Cafaro Hall. The Phelps building across the street will be renamed Ronald G. Silvestri Hall after the late Silvestri, who was Janet Cafaro’s brother.
Silvestri died Oct. 11, 2013, of natural causes. He was 62.
As a businessman, Silvestri, who attended YSU’s Williamson College of Business, bid on and supervised a wide array of projects across Ohio and Pennsylvania for his family’s construction business. His father, George Silvestri, was a longtime highway contractor.
The Lincoln Building also was the original Williamson College of Business.
“Education was so important to (Silvestri). He was self-taught” in everything from music to mechanics, Renee Cafaro, Silvestri’s niece, said.
Her sister, Capri Cafaro, a former Ohio state senator and minority leader, credited YSU for providing the groundwork for her political and other successes. She also praised her family for the continued growth of the Cafaro Co., one of the nation’s leading shopping center developers.
“We’re very honored to have a presence on this campus,” said Janet Cafaro, president of Cambridge, Ohio-based Silcor Oilfield Services, as well as Parkway Holdings, which owns commercial real estate.
J.J. Cafaro, founder and president of J.J. Cafaro Investment Trust in Brookfield, called YSU “the engine of commercial and economic development for many, many years.”
Tressel also praised the family for its gift and added that efforts to rename the buildings began with discussions about eight or nine years ago.