Traficant family spokesperson: Public memorial pending

AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The family of Jim Traficant held a private service in his remembrance early Monday morning, according to family spokesperson Heidi Hanni.

Hanni also said that the family is planning a public celebration of Traficant’s life for sometime within the next 30 days. Details are currently being finalized by the family.

Traficant, a former Valley Congressman who served for 17 years in the House of Representatives, died Saturday, a few days after being involved in a serious tractor accident on his farm in Greenford, Ohio.

After the accident, Traficant was first taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, then transferred to Hospice of the Valley on Friday, where he passed away Saturday.

Dr. Joseph Ohr, chief pathologist for the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office, said there was no indication that Traficant had a heart attack, stroke or seizure that would have left him incapacitated prior to the crash. Ohr said Traficant was not crushed to death by the tractor, but the weight of the machine kept the former Congressman from being able to breathe.

Ohr said he is listing the preliminary cause of death for Traficant as “positional asphyxia,” which is when something is sitting on a person’s chest and preventing the person from getting enough oxygen. He said even though doctors were able to restart his heart and breathing at the hospital, he never really regained consciousness and it is hard to tell how long Traficant was unable to breathe or was unconscious before rescue personnel arrived.

Ohr said he would like to order more tests of heart tissue, since Traficant did have a history of high blood pressure and heart issues.

The family submitted this obituary to our print partner, the Tribune Chronicle:

Poland – Private services were held for James Anthony Traficant, Jr, 73, who passed away Saturday morning, Sept. 27, 2014.  Jim was born May 8, 1941 in Youngstown, the son of James Sr. and Agnes (Farkas) Traficant.  He was a counselor with the Mahoning County Drug Counseling Program from 1971 to 1981 until the time he became Mahoning County Sheriff.  He served as sheriff until his successful election in 1985 as Congressman of the 17th Congressional District.  Jim served as this area’s Congressman until July 24, 2002.  Jim was a 1959 Graduate of Mooney High School where he excelled at football.  He continued his football career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in 1963.  He earned his Master’s Degree from Youngstown State University in 1976.  Jim meant so much to so many people and he will be sadly missed by all.  He will be lovingly remembered especially by his wife, Patricia “Tish” (Choppa) Traficiant, whom he married Feb. 24, 1968; his two daughters, Elizabeth (John) Chahine and Robin O’Grady; grandchildren, Jon, twins Maria and Elena Chahine, Jennifer Bogli, Edward Sigafoos, and Donald O’Grady; his sister-in-law, Pennie (Richard) Davis; brother-in-law, Tony Choppa; Uncle Steve and Aunt Eleanor Farkas; and many loving, nieces, nephews, and cousins.  Besides his parents; Jim was preceded in death by his brother, Sam Traficant; sister-in-law, JoAnn Barrett Traficant, and in-laws, Guy and Lucille Choppa.  There were no calling hours.  The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the nurses and staff in SICU at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Mary Samsone CPTC from Life Bank, Tracy Penwell, RN and liaison from Hospice of the Valley, and Dr. Lisa Young and the staff at the Hospice House.  The family respectfully requests monetary donations be made in Jim’s name to Hospice of the Valley, Attn. Liz McGarry, 5190 Market Street, Boardman, OH  44512.  The Rossi Brothers & Lellio Funeral Home, 4442 South Avenue in Boardman has been bestowed the honor and privilege of handling the arrangements for Jim. Family and friends may visit the Book of Memories at to view this tribute and send condolences to Jim’s family.

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