Albert M. Shilinski, 84, made popular Lithuanian sausage

November 24, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Using a "closely guarded recipe," Albert M. Shilinski ground, blended and stuffed pork and spices for more than 60 years to create his popular Lithuanian sausage -- a staple of Baltimore families for decades.

"We always call it our Thanksgiving turkey," said Elizabeth Chesno, 75, of Catonsville, who has been serving the traditional coiled meat with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and horseradish for 45 years. "We'll be thinking of him this year."

Mr. Shilinski, 84, died of cancer Wednesday at St. Agnes Hospital.

But customers still will be able to purchase his sausage. The Baltimore native shared the recipe with Scittino's Italian Market Place in Catonsville, where he worked until a few years ago.

"Even when he got older, he would do all the physical labor, mixing and lifting," said his son Stanley J. Shilinski of Corcoran, Minn.

The elder Shilinski, who worked as a meat cutter over the years, learned to make the sausage from a grocer on Washington Boulevard in Southwest Baltimore, where he worked for 32 years. In 1955, he inherited the business, which had relocated to Paca Street, calling it Albert Shilinski Grocery.

For the next 18 years, Mr. Shilinski provided the Lithuanian community and other families with the sausage they served for holiday and family events from christenings to funerals. He also distributed the meat at other locations, including the Hollins and Lexington markets.

"He would make tons of sausage at Easter and Christmastime," his son said.

Frances Weber of Northeast Baltimore, a longtime customer, said, "Every dinner table at every holiday had Shilinski sausage. It was a must."

In a 1973 article in The Sun, Mr. Shilinski was described as the last authentic Lithuanian sausage manufacturer in Baltimore. And, according to his wife of 55 years, the former Frances Elksnis, the sausage found its way to Denver, California, Chicago, Florida and even Iceland, when a customer sent it to her daughter.

"It was so delicious," recalled Mrs. Chesno, whose husband, Frank, is of Lithuanian descent. "[Mr. Shilinski] used the right amount of spices. And the meat itself made it very good."

Mr. Shilinski's son explained that a secret blend of seasonings differentiates Lithuanian sausage -- or "desros" -- from other types of sausage.

After the city bought Mr. Shilinski's Paca Street property for development in the 1970s, he worked for several years at the now defunct Meat Center in Catonsville, making and marketing his sausage.

Besides business, Mr. Shilinski, who lived in Catonsville with his wife for 42 years, enjoyed tending his 41 rosebushes, his family said.

Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Witzke Funeral Home of Catonsville, 1630 Edmondson Ave.

Other survivors include another son, Raymond A. Shilinski of Severna Park; a brother, Joseph Shilinski of Camden, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/24/97

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