Angelo Victor Emanuel Rucci, 91, of South Philadelphia, an aspiring physician who set aside his medical training to head up the family’s meat business, died Wednesday, March 4, of congestive heart failure at the VITAS Hospice in Jefferson Methodist Hospital.
Known as “Manny,” Mr. Rucci was born in South Philadelphia to Raffaele Rucci and Filomena Palmieri, immigrants from the Abruzzo region of Italy.
He graduated in 1946 from South Philadelphia High School and in 1950 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also had begun medical school.
But when his father died in the early 1950s, leaving the family without a breadwinner, Mr. Rucci left school to take over Rucci’s Quality Meats, a market on South 12th Street. He remained owner-operator of the business for more than four decades until retiring in 1991.
Even after selling the business, he worked Fridays and Saturdays at Ferrante’s Meats & More, a butcher shop on Haverford Avenue in Overbrook Park. He loved serving customers and would treat them to cinnamon buns and homemade doughnuts, said his daughter, Rosina Rucci.
“He had an incredible generosity of spirit, he was almost abnormally kind,” his daughter said. “In my 64 years, I heard him say something negative about someone maybe once or twice. And it was always Donald Trump.”
Son Ralph Rucci, a fashion designer in New York, said his father was a humble, humane man with extraordinary integrity. “He was a perfect role model,” his son said. “He believed success is how you act toward others. It is not lucrative wealth or your station in society. He gave to others constantly.”
As a father, Mr. Rucci was “tender, quiet, not a disciplinarian,” his son said. “He loved watching our personalities unfold and evolve. He was not dictatorial. He wanted us to figure out things on our own and make the right choices. The trust he put in us allowed us to move forward.”
When Ralph Rucci announced that he wanted to go to New York to work in fashion, his father was apprehensive, but didn’t object. “He was 100% behind me. He said, ‘Take care of yourself, we’re always here for you,’ ” Rucci said. When his son succeeded, Mr. Rucci was ecstatic and never missed a fashion show.
Mary Kingsland of Drexel Hill remembered Mr. Rucci from Ferrante’s. “I always looked forward to seeing him when he worked on Saturdays because he loved to chitchat, and I looked forward to the tea biscuit he gave me while we were talking,” she said in an online message. “Manny was such a wonderful person. If I had one word to describe him, it would be elegant.”
Lisa DeRita-Romeo called Mr. Rucci “the best neighbor ever.”
“Thank you for all your kindness, warmth and humor throughout the years,” she wrote in an online tribute. “Porter Street will never be the same without you.”
He married Linda T. Bonavita in 1955. They raised their two children in South Philadelphia. After his wife died in 2004, Mr. Rucci joined two senior citizen clubs and immersed himself in holiday dances, weekend trips to the Poconos, day trips to Tropicana Atlantic City, and weekly card games.
Besides his daughter, Rosina, and son, Ralph, he is survived by a grandson and many nieces and nephews.
Services were Monday, March 9, with burial in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Springfield.