Rudolph Coringrato, a retired waiter known for his polished manners and customer allegiance, died Wednesday of complications from a stroke at his daughter's home in Mount Wolf, Pa. He was 83 and had lived in Rodgers Forge until several months ago.
He served meals to luminaries of entertainment and politics, as well as many devoted Baltimore patrons, in his more than 40 years of work - first at Miller Brothers, and later at Maison Marconi in downtown Baltimore.
"He was extremely hardworking, like a machine," said attorney Robert A. Shelton, a frequent Marconi's diner. "He was a consummate waiter, self-effacing. He had a flair when he poured the chocolate sauce over the ice cream," the restaurant's signature dessert.
Known as Rudy, he dressed in a fastidiously clean tuxedo and delivered food and drinks to customers who sat in his station - the southwest corner of Marconi's front room, which faces Saratoga Street. His customers often requested that he wait on them.
He joined the restaurant's staff in the early 1960s after working about 20 years at Miller Brothers, a Fayette Street restaurant known for its traditional Maryland dishes.
"He was helpful to the other waiters," said Robert Lane, a former Marconi's waiter who worked with him in the 1980s. "He'd always bail out you if you got too busy. He'd fix a martini for my customers if I was swamped."
"He took his job very seriously," said daughter Deborah J. Suess of Ellicott City. "He respected his patrons' privacy, even when stars came in. He never brought home autographs."
His daughter recalled that he often waited until celebrities such as the Three Stooges, who appeared on the Hippodrome stage - or Al Pacino, here making a movie - had left town before he told his children he'd served them dinner.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where his parents lived for several years, he was raised and attended school in Allentown, Pa.
During World War II he wanted to fly and joined the Army Air Forces. Because his eyesight was not good enough for him to become a pilot, he trained as a parachute rigger. He was stationed in India and attained the rank of corporal.
Mr. Coringrato enjoyed growing roses and doing sketches and watercolors.
A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County, 9325 Presbyterian Circle, Columbia.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, the former Dolores Rhames; a son, Rudolph D. Coringrato of Mount Joy, Pa.; two other daughters, Kathy L. Waite of Mount Wolf and Kristi A. Lake Mack of Houston; seven brothers, Alfred Coringrato of Reading, Pa., Ettore Coringrato of Fullerton, Pa., Albert Coringrato of Lakeland, Fla., Henry Coringrato of Emmaus, Pa., and Dominic, Julius and Joseph Coringrato, all of Allentown; three sisters, Clotilda Minner and Jean Brinker, both of Allentown, and Natalie Brown of Lakeland; and 10 grandchildren.