Roar on the Shore executive director and former Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) president Ralph Pontillo died of a medical issue stemming from an allergic reaction in Florida Saturday evening, Erie News Now has learned. He was 64.

Pontillo retired from MBA in 2017. He first joined the organization in 1987 as manager of member services and was named its president in 1990.

Pontillo played a role in the relocation of MBA's facilities to its current headquarters and the construction of its conference center, which helped expand its programs and services.

He has also served as the executive director of Roar on the Shore since 2017. He is credited with spearheading the motorcycle rally started in 2007 as a community outreach of MBA. It raised nearly $1 million for local charities and brought an economic boost to Erie with over 100,000 visitors each year.

“Ralph was larger than life, a true visionary, a respected leader and a loyal friend, and we are all deeply saddened and shocked by his sudden passing,” said John Krahe, president and CEO of MBA.

With issues over payment for city services, in 2019 Roar on the Shore moved out of downtown Erie to Lake Erie Speedway.  In recent days, Pontillo expressed the desire to bring it back to the city.  

On hearing the news of Pontillo's passing, Erie Mayor Joe Schember said, "This is very tragic, especially for Ralph's wife, family and friends.  My heart goes out to them.  Ralph had many good years still ahead.  I'm very sorry this happened."

Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

Read the entire statement issued by MBA