Pasquale Lerro, 93, a candy store owner who lived by the sweet motto "Never make money on someone else's hardship," died of a heart attack Tuesday at Methodist Hospital. He was a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia.
Mr. Lerro learned the trade working alongside his father, Giovanni, in Lerro's Candies on South Broad Street, which was founded in 1900. After graduating from South Philadelphia High School in 1932, he worked at the store. In 1942, he enlisted in the Navy and served stateside until the end of World War II.
Mr. Lerro's dream of going to college and becoming a pharmacist was dashed because his father needed help with the store. The family lived on the third floor of a rowhouse, manufactured candy on the second floor, and sold boxes of chocolate-covered fruit and nuts in the retail store on the first floor.
It was there that Mr. Lerro met his sweetheart, Carmella Pietrolungo, who also worked at Lerro's Candies. They married in 1948 and raised four children who carried on the family's confectioner tradition.
In 1950, Lerro's Candies opened a plant in Darby and produced decorated Easter eggs and boxes of chocolates for Valentine's Day, Christmas and Halloween.
Mr. Lerro never retired. After a fall in 2001, he slowed down but continued to work.
"My dad taught us to do what made us happy," said son John. "He said, do what you enjoy and the money will follow."
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Lerro is survived by another son, Michael; daughters Anna and Patricia; and three grandchildren.
Friends may visit at 8:30 a.m. today at Baldi Funeral Home, 1331 S. Broad St. A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 at St. Monica's Church, 17th and Ritner Streets. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Donations may be sent to Don Guanella School, 1797 S. Sproul Rd., Springfield, Pa. 19064.