Rose “Rosie” Barone of Ottawa Hills, a former Toledo teacher, community volunteer, and philanthropist, who inspired the locally-owned Rosie’s Italian Grille, died Sunday at the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. She was 98.
She died from heart failure, said her son, John Barone.
“She was our teacher, our best friend and our disciplinarian, who provided our guidance in life lessons,” Mr. Barone said. “Even on her last days, mom was still preaching to us about respect for others and love of the family and to carry on the traditions that she taught us.”
The restaurant business used dozens of recipes that her family brought from Sicily, including her “famous Italian bread and her lasagna that was no less famous,” her son said. The business originated from Rosie’s Family Restaurant, which her sons, John, Mike, and Phil Barone, opened in Toledo in 1981 on Sylvania Avenue, he said.
“She was the support and inspiration behind the founding of what now is Rosie’s Italian Grille on McCord Road,” John Barone said.
She was also a co-founder of the Rosie’s Scholars Fund at Central Catholic High School, which helps needy students with tuition.
“Lovely, lovely lady!” said Mary Alice Powell, a retired Blade food editor. “Her enthusiasm and her interest in food accounts for the success of the Barones in the restaurant business.
“She was an extremely lovey, gracious lady. She was very, very family-oriented, very proud of her family,” she said.
In 1975, The Blade published the recipe of Mrs. Barone’s “Rosie’s Italian Bread.”
“Frank, John Jr., and Michael Barone earlier had begged their mother for the proportions so that they could make the bread while away at college,” Ms. Powell wrote. “But without measurements, Mrs. Barone could only answer their requests by baking and sending the bread to them. ... When the boys were younger, she baked the bread every five days. Now she turns out 12 large loaves every eight or nine days.”
Said John Barone, “That’s exactly what happened. And on the day she baked the bread, she shared it with friends and neighbors.”
Mrs. Barone was born Dec. 5, 1919, in Montelepre, Sicily, to Salvatore and Crocetta Ferrara. She came to the United States with her family when she was 4.
Mrs. Barone was raised in Toledo. She attended Central Catholic High School and later graduated from Mary Manse College.
She then taught at Clay Elementary School until 1950, when she married John Barone, a Toledo attorney, with whom she raised five sons. He died in 1999. She died on the same day — Feb. 4 — as her husband.
Her son Philip Barone said he had a standing date with her at the restaurant every Friday night after his father died.
He called her a passionate and caring woman with a great sense of humor who was “movie-star beautiful, with class, and never went out of the house without her hair and make-up done and in a nice outfit.”
Mrs. Barone was a longtime member of Gesu Parish and was member of the area “Share and Care” knitting Group, where she knitted luxury scarves for the homeless in the Toledo area.
In addition to her husband, a son, Andrew Barone, preceded her in death.
“She was part of the greatest generation,” said son Dr. Frank Barone. “She was unselfish, hardworking, humble, honest, loyal, and loving.
Surviving are her sons, Dr. Frank Barone, John Barone II, Michael Barone, and Philip Barone; sisters, Ann Scuderi and Lucy Pinciotti, and 18 grandchildren.
Visitation will be at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Walker Funeral Home, 5155 Sylvania Ave., with a prayer service at 8 p.m. The funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Blvd.
The family suggests tributes to Rosie’s Scholars Fund at Central Catholic High School.
Barbara Hendel, the Blade society editor, contributed to this report.
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