Take Tony Genzale Out of the Market, and There'll Be Fresher Fruit in Heaven

Tony Genzale, 1949-2010, at his home away from home.
Last night, hundreds of friends and customers of longtime Tony's Market proprietor Tony Genzale paid their respects in a memorial service at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Burien, where Tony's Market originated before the family-run produce seller sold its property to a drug store and moved to West Seattle. Genzale recently succumbed to cancer at the age of 61 after bravely battling the disease for years.

The service was ultra-Catholic, with dozens of Hail Marys liberally peppered throughout a full Rosary. But interspersed among the traditional utterances were several testimonials culled from the West Seattle blog and an online guestbook set up in Genzale's honor. Taken as a whole, they proved once again that the "celebrities" in most people's lives aren't the Brangelina or Gagas of the world, but the smiling face at the grocery store, barber shop, or bar who's been taking care of them for years. And Genzale and his son Joey, whose market was named "best father-and-son cheap fruit finders" in Seattle Weekly's 2009 Best Of Seattle (TM) issue, took care of a lot of people (Joey will continue doing so in his stead.)

After the rosary concluded, a slideshow of Genzale's life was projected onto a screen on the altar, set to music by his favorites--Sinatra, Deano, Elvis. In the middle, Genzale's mustachioed mug appeared alone with a self-quotation: "You can take the man out of the market, but you can't take the market out of the man." Genzale faithfully adhered to this mantra his entire life, and God eats better apples and pears now that Tony's moved upstairs.

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