Edward A. Russo, who wrote two short books recounting his childhood on Buffalo's West Side, died Friday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga. He was 76.
He grew up next to the No. 10 Buffalo Police Precinct on Niagara Street, the son of hard-working Italian parents in a tightknit immigrant community.
"When I was growing up on the West Side, we had only three things. We had family, we had love, and we had respect. I never knew I was poor. I had exactly what the guy next door had. We shared everything," he said in a 2002 interview with The Buffalo News.
After graduating from Grover Cleveland High School, Mr. Russo served in the Army from 1952 to 1954, kept company while stationed in West Germany by the steady stream of letters -- up to four a day -- from his high school sweetheart, Toni Parisi, who would become his wife.
After the couple married, they moved to Amherst, where Mr. Russo spent the rest of his life. But he never let go of his fond memories of the West Side. When he was 70, he typed up 30 pages of "My Memories of the West Side," keeping copies in his car to hand out to friends. Eventually, he collected enough money to have Grover Cleveland Press print 1,500 copies of the work that recalled everything from the Pennsylvania Street chicken market to shooting dice at Busti and Hudson.
In 2005, Mr. Russo penned "Tony's Son," a 77-page book that incorporated tales from his years as a child on the West Side and as a young man in the Army.
After his military service, he worked for Bell Aerospace and Kar Muffler, where he was general manager before he started his own business, HandE Muffler, in Dunkirk.
He was a school bus driver for Laidlaw, for which he won numerous awards before going to work for Gray Line Tours as head of customer service. He worked there until his death.
Mr. Russo was actively involved at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church for more than 30 years, serving as usher and, at one time, president of the Holy Name Society. He loved the arts, especially music, and could be seen at many local jazz concerts and rehearsals, listening and smiling.
In addition to his wife of 53 years, he is survived by two daughters, Deborah Morlock and Karen Ragusa; a son, Ed; and three sisters, Josephine Lagattuta, Mary Pistone and Carolyn DiFrancesco.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday in St. Leo the Great Church, 885 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.