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Neighbors reflect on Stowe produce store owner's death after fall

| Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Anthony Perri started his workday by 4 a.m. and although he was slowing down at 86, he showed no signs of stopping, business owners in Stowe said Thursday.

“I said, ‘Why don't you smell the roses instead of selling the roses,' ” said James Selelyo, who knew the owner of Sam Perri Produce for about 50 years.

“His life was that produce business. I believe that kept him going. I guess he went out the way he wanted to — on the job.”

Perri of Kennedy died Wednesday night in Allegheny General Hospital from a head injury he suffered when the driver of a car drifted out of her lane and struck his produce truck on Dec. 5 while it was parked in front of his business in the 600 block of Broadway Avenue, Allegheny County police Lt. Andrew Schurman said. Perri, who had been unloading the truck, was knocked out of the back, Schurman said.

Schurman did not identify the 52-year-old driver, who has not been charged as police await the results of toxicology tests.

“I was concerned when I heard what happened because of his age and the impact of the vehicle,” said Selelyo, who owns Floral King next door to Perri. “It just didn't leave a good taste in my mouth.”

Perri took over the business from his father and made daily trips to the Strip District to pick up produce and deliver it to his restaurant clients, Selelyo said.

“He was a very colorful individual,” Selelyo said. “He was a very hard worker who demanded perfection. He liked to do things himself.”

Selelyo said when he noticed Perri start to struggle with his work, he recommended people to help him with the business.

“How he did it at his age, it was amazing,” Selelyo said. “Being an old-timer and doing things his way, it was hard to get the right person to actually mesh with him.”

Frank Ledesma, who works at Joyce's Homemade Cookies on Broadway, said Perri kept to himself and worked hard at his job.

“He would do anything for you,” he said. “I think there's a lot of people that are going to miss him.”

Funeral arrangements are pending at Sanvito Funeral Home on Broadway in Stowe. A funeral home employee said Perri was a widower who did not have any children.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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