Rose Petrone, 100, helped run cafe, tailor shop

October 09, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Rose Petrone, a homemaker and centenarian, died of pancreatic cancer Friday at her daughter's Middle River home. She was 100.

Born Rose Scurto in Cefalu, Italy, she immigrated with her family to Baltimore in 1907. She was raised in an area now largely occupied by the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, and attended public and parochial schools until the third grade.

She later worked as a seamstress making men's suits at Henry Sonneborn Co. in Baltimore's old Garment District.

One of Mrs. Petrone's most vivid memories was the influenza epidemic of 1918.

"Rose and six other members of her immediate family caught the flu. When she saw the medicine turn the spoon green, she refused to take it and pretended to be asleep when her mother brought it to her," said a daughter, Rosalie Ray of Middle River. "By the end of the week, the other six family members were dead. She was the only infected one to survive."

At 15, she met Joseph L. Petrone, a World War I veteran who had come to work at Sonneborn. "She always said it was love at first sight," Mrs. Ray said.

They were married in 1921 and later settled in the 2900 block of Pulaski Highway, where they also operated a tailoring shop. In 1954, they purchased a neighborhood bar in Highlandtown that they renamed Petrone's Cafe. Her husband died in 1956, but Mrs. Petrone continued operating the bar until 1964.

Mrs. Petrone enjoyed traveling and especially liked to play slot machines in Atlantic City casinos and in Delaware. She was a regular on Tuesdays at the Middlesex senior center and on Fridays at the Mount Carmel Senior Center.

When she turned 100 in April, about 140 family members and friends entertained her at a party at the Marco Club in Wilson Point.

Mrs. Petrone, who did not smoke and only sipped an occasional glass of wine when eating pasta, remained physically active until her health began to fail a few months ago.

"She was a lover of people and spent her life trying to help others," her daughter said.

Mrs. Petrone was a communicant of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Tuesday.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Petrone is survived by another daughter, Mary Treulieb of Baltimore; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

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