HAZELWOOD (KDKA) — Sam Rende was a colorful fixture in the Hazelwood neighborhood who, despite a checkered past, had endeared himself to most all who knew him.
“He was a good man and he’s going to be sorely missed by the whole neighborhood,” said Michael Johnson, a friend.
When KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with Rende three years ago, he’d grown impatient with the progress on the massive Hazelwood Green redevelopment project.
SHEEHAN: You’ll believe it when you see it?
RENDE: I don’t think I’ll live long enough to see anything happen.
This past weekend Rende’s life was cut short at the age of 90.
Police have charged 27-year-old Anthony Miller of Whitehall with criminal homicide and robbery, accusing him of shooting Rende three times through the window of his pickup truck and stealing Rende’s ring and watch.
Rende’s murder has shocked the neighborhood.
“He was a good guy. He was good for the community, he helped the community and for this to happen you can’t fathom it,” said Joe Reich of Elizabeth Pharmacy.
Police say Rende knew Miller and friends speculate that Rende, who was known for his generous nature, may have given Miller money in the past.
“If he knew you were poor and he’d seen you walking about, he’d give you ten bucks, 15 bucks,” said Nick Cannavine, another friend.
But in the wake of his passing, it’s also come to light that in the early 80s Rende pled no-contest for his involvement in string of underworld contract killings.
He was said to have played a minor role as a go-between and he served a short stint in prison.
However, friends like Johnson say Rende kept his nose clean for the better part of four decades and helped those around him.
“Everything changes, and it changed for the best for him and for the better,” he said.