Louis J. Tullio was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on May 17, 1916. His father was an Italian immigrant who could not read or write. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester College on a football scholarship. He received his master's degree in education from Boston University. He served in the Navy during World War II. After returning to Erie after the war, he became a high school teacher and football coach.
In 1965, Tullio ran for the Democratic nomination for Mayor of the City of Erie, but was defeated by a popular city councilman, Mike Cannavino. Cannavino died eleven days before the general election, and the Democratic Party replaced Cannavino with Tullio as its nominee. Tullio then defeated Republican Mayor Charles Williamson, becoming the city's first mayor of Italian descent. Tullio served six terms as mayor, being reelected in 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981, and 1985.
As mayor, Tullio dealt with many issues of urban development that challenged other U.S. cities in the 1960s and 1970s to mixed reviews. He worked with state and federal officials, including Republicans, bringing in nearly $300 million in state and federal funds for urban renewal. He oversaw the growth of Erie's annual budget from $9 million to $64 million.
In 1976, Tullio attempted to win election to the House of Representatives, but was unable to deny the incumbent congressman, Rep. Joseph Vigorito, the Democratic nomination.
Louis was diagnosed with amyloidosis in October 1987. He cut back on his schedule, but did not resign or appoint an acting mayor until Nov 1989, just before the end of his sixth term. He died at his home in Erie at age 73 on Apr 17, 1990.
The Louis J. Tullio Areana in downtown Erie and the Louis J. Tullio Field of Mercyhurst University were named in his honor.
Bio by: Ron Wingerter
Cecelia McHale Tullio
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