Frank Litrenta, 103, longtime city grocer with corner store

June 08, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Frank Litrenta, a longtime corner grocer who until a fall and stroke last week had helped out daily at his son's duckpin bowling alley, died Thursday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He was 103.

Born in Cosenza, Italy, he was 10 when his large family moved to America. They settled first in Medix Run, Pa., where his father was a railroad foreman and Mr. Litrenta worked as a water boy for the crews.

The family moved to Warsaw, N.C., and worked in lumber mills before moving to Baltimore, where Mr. Litrenta, his father and four brothers found work at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point mill during World War I. After the war, he worked for several years for the LoPresti Spaghetti Co.

In 1927, he opened the Quality Meat Market at Dundalk and Holabird avenues, beginning with meat and produce, and later expanding to groceries. He and a partner at one time had three stores, but Mr. Litrenta remained with his Dundalk market until he retired in 1965 and moved to Florida.

He returned to Dundalk in 1992 to live with his son, Michael G. Litrenta, owner of Pinland Bowling Lanes -- across from his father's old market.

Michael Litrenta said his father came to the bowling alley every day to work, tell stories and play cards. In a 1995 interview at Pinland, Mr. Litrenta pointed out his old market and recalled killing and plucking live chickens his customers selected.

"He talked to all the people, numbered the score sheets, gave pointers to the kids, answered the phones," his son said. "His hearing was the only thing that gave him a problem. He didn't even use a cane.

"He was perfect until a week ago, and then poor dad fell down," his son said. "A couple more years he said, and he would have lived in three centuries."

Mr. Litrenta was a charter member of the Dundalk Rotary Club and the Knights of St. George at St. Rita Roman Catholic Church, 2903 Dunleer Road in Dundalk, where a Mass of Christian burial was to be offered at 11 a.m. today.

Mr. Litrenta was married for more than 40 years to the former Josephine DeLuca, who died in 1960. In 1968, he married Theresa Palazzo, who died in 1992.

He also is survived by two daughters, Mary C. Passaro of Towson and Dr. Frances Litrenta of Baltimore; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Pub date: 6/08/98

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