Phillip T. Brusio Sr., who was a vegetable a-rab and master mender of Baltimore's broken water mains, died of a heart attack Dec. 24 at his Hollins Street home. He was 66.
Mr. Brusio, who lived virtually all his life facing Hollins Market, was a well-known figure in Southwest Baltimore.
Most Saturday mornings, he and his sons set up a curbside produce stand at Lombard Street and Carrollton Avenue, then sold or gave away fruits and vegetables. He habitually wore a blue Baltimore Colts cap and always worked with his sons.
"I've never known a man to work as hard as he did," said Steve Sullivan, a Hollins Market butcher. "And I've never known anyone who gave so much away."
Mr. Brusio, a Baltimore native whose parents immigrated from Sicily, weighed 280 pounds and had strong hands. His build suited him as a trouble-shooter with the city's water and wastewater bureau. He retired in 1992 after 42 years with the Baltimore Department of Public Works.
"When that big main broke at Light and Lombard years ago, I didn't see my father for four days. He could smash chunks of ice off big frozen pipes with his hands," said a son, Phillip Brusio Jr.
Each week, after he had completed his hours at Public Works, he went to the wholesale produce market and loaded his truck with boxes of fruit and vegetables.
"Years ago, we had 10 or 12 stops on Saturdays -- from Pigtown through Morrell Park and all the way to Druid Hill Park. We ended the evening by watching 'The Jackie Gleason Show' at a Washington Boulevard junkyard, where we sold -- or gave away -- the last of the produce," recalled Phillip Brusio Jr.
"If you only wanted to buy lettuce and tomatoes, you got potatoes, onions, apples, oranges and bananas, too.
"It broke my father's heart when I told him I wanted to be a Boy Scout and not sell bananas on Saturday morning," the son recalled.
In later years, the elder Mr. Brusio gave up his a-rab route and set up at a corner a few blocks from his home.
In 1954, he married Margaret Kauffman.
Funeral services were held Monday.
In addition to his son and wife, survivors include two other sons, John Anthony Brusio and Paul Brusio; four daughters, Katherine Stachowiak, Phyllis Brusio, Mary Brusio and Teresa Joyave; his mother, Filippa Brusio; three brothers, Joseph Brusio, Martin Brusio and Vince Brusio; six sisters, Mary Doyle, Rita Dilorio, Teresa Brusio, Ronnie DeFatta, Rose Stefanoni and Jeanette Katen. All are of Baltimore. He also is survived by 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 1/01/97