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James N. Desiderio, 88, founder and former president of a leading Buffalo wholesale produce distributing company, died Saturday (Sept. 23, 2000) in Canterbury Woods Retirement Community, Amherst, after a brief illness.

Born in Buffalo, he worked in the wholesale produce business for several years before he established James Desiderio Inc. in 1950. A president of the Niagara Frontier Produce Exchange in the 1950s, he played a leading role in the operations of the Niagara Frontier Food Terminal.

His company was an innovator in providing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including exotic, hybrid and miniature items. His company also improved refrigerated distribution and provided customized packaging for retailers.

He also provided local winemakers with a variety of wine grapes and other winemaking accessories through long-term relationships with leading growers and vintners in California.

He retired in 1982 but maintained an interest in the business as it continued to be operated by his son, James L., who died in 1995; four grandsons; and their uncle, Robert Mercurio.

A devout Catholic, he assisted the Columban Sisters in Silver Creek with annual fund-raising campaigns, starting in the 1970s. He also supported the missions of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and Boys Town of Italy.

He was a member St. Bernadette's Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus.

Desiderio enjoyed travel, particularly to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.

A saxophonist, in his youth he played in dance bands and in the pit band of Shea's Buffalo Theater.

A former resident of Orchard Park, he spent winters in Boca Raton, Fla.

He and Carmella L. Derrico were married in 1938. She died in 1969.

Surviving are four daughters, Patricia Fisher of Maui, Hawaii, Barbara J. Akins of Boston, Mass., Annette C. Pulido of La Jolla, Calif., and Anita Cosgrove of Hunting Valley, Ohio; three brothers, Frank of Florida, Dr. Anthony of Oceanside, Calif., and Michael of West Seneca; two sisters, Margaret Derrico and Anna DeVincentis; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Bernadette's Church, S-5930 Abbott Road, Orchard Park, after prayers at 9:15 in F.E. Brown Sons Funeral Home, 6575 E. Quaker St., Orchard Park. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga.


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