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Michael "Jerry" Pizzitola '64 February 7, 2024 4:45 PM updated: February 7, 2024 5:02 PM

Michael Jerome "Jerry" Pizzitola 

May 29, 1942 - January 18, 2024 

Michael Jerome Pizzitola, Sr. (“Jerry”) was born on May 29th, 1942, the middle son of Marguerite Johnson and Joseph Francis Pizzitola, Sr. He passed away peacefully on January 18th, 2024, at the age of 81. A longtime resident of Houston, Jerry grew up in Galena Park and later attended St. Thomas High School, where he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 along with his younger brothers Johnny Pizzitola and Jimmy Raley.

After graduating from St. Thomas High School in 1960, Jerry attended Texas A&M University, where he not only played both football and baseball, but got married to Paula Inez Jones, and had four children: Jerry Pizzitola, Jr., Angela Pizzitola Schwarzbach, Andrea Pizzitola Thompson, and James Anthony Pizzitola. In 1980 Jerry married his loving wife of 43 years, Kay Thompson Pizzitola and had a daughter Margaret Pizzitola Thurmond.

Upon his graduation from A&M in 1964, Bachelor’s in Business in hand, Jerry quickly went to work for his father at Regal Food Service. Starting out as an early-morning route driver, Jerry worked his way up to being president of the company, until in 1983, he resigned (or was impeached, as he liked to joke). Whichever was the case, Jerry’s leaving Regal Foods turned out to be a giant bonus for the city of Houston, because soon thereafter he opened Pizzitola’s Barbecue on Shepherd Drive, buying the business from original owners John and Leila Davis. Pizzitola’s Barbecue eventually became one of Houston’s iconic barbecue restaurants, known for having the best ribs in town.

Known for his endless warmth and generosity, at heart Jerry was a deeply religious man. He valued faith and family above most anything else, even fishing. Weekends would find him taking the kids water skiing and/or fishing and usually end up with him barbecuing enough to feed the entire neighborhood. When he could sneak off on his own, he liked to go to local icehouses, drink Miller Lite (longnecks only) and listen to the singer-songwriters. If there was a band playing, or even a jukebox busting out country classics, you would find Jerry on the dance floor. He loved to dance and would usually dance with about every woman in the room when he could, smiling all the while.

Jerry is preceded in death by his father Joseph Pizzitola, Sr. and his wife Jean; his mother Marguerite “Sugar” Raley and husband Ed Raley; brother Joseph Pizzitola, Jr.; brother Johnny Pizzitola; and brother Jeff Raley. Jerry is survived by his wife Kay Thompson Pizzitola, his children Michael Jerome Pizzitola, Jr. Angela Pizzitola Schwarzbach, Andrea Pizzitola Thompson, James Anthony Pizzitola, and Margaret Pizzitola Thurmond and husband Matt. He is also survived by his siblings James Walker Raley and wife Cynthia, Mary Anne Bair and husband Philip, and Theresa Louise Pizzitola as well as his brothers’ widows Julie Raley, Peggy Pizzitola, and Janet Pizzitola. Jerry was also blessed with eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren which he loved dearly.

Family and friends are invited to attend a Rosary and Celebration of Life at 4:00 PM on Tuesday, January 30th at St. Thomas High School in Cemo Auditorium. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or charity of your choice. 

Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home 


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