Family members, friends and the local business community are mourning the passing of Pasquale (Pat) Ruscio.
Ruscio - who established Ruscio Masonry and Construction and Ruscio Mini Storage in Sault Ste. Marie - died at his home Sunday, Nov. 21 at the age of 83.
“We lost a great man and a great father,” said son Joe Ruscio, speaking to SooToday.
Ruscio had been experiencing heart and respiratory problems for the past few years, his son told us.
Ruscio, born in 1938, came from the Calabria region of Italy and lived his childhood and teen years in Rome, where he learned his trade as a master stonemason.
He came from humble beginnings, Joe said.
For a while, he served in the Italian military.
“When he got discharged from the military, they gave him a train ticket back to Rome and a sandwich. That was his net worth, that sandwich, and that sandwich had to get him to Rome,” Joe said.
Emigrating from Italy to Canada in the 1960s, Ruscio worked at Algoma Steel before starting up Ruscio Masonry and Construction.
The company became a major player in the Sault construction industry.
“He worked really hard physically, and mentally too, because he was running the business. He was on the job all day long, pushing production. He didn’t just set it up and have it start running itself. It was hard work right up until he retired,” Joe said.
Officially retiring at 60, Ruscio said his father laid his last brick at approximately 70 years of age.
“He was always mentoring.”
A devout Roman Catholic, his son said “he put God first and his family a close second.”
Ruscio and his friends would gather for prayer services at a shrine.
His obituary stating “he gave without expectation of anything in return,” son Joe said “no one realized he was the one who built that shrine 30 years ago.”
“When you got to know him, it was hard not to love him. He was very gentle, soft spoken, very respectful.”
“I get so many stories from people telling me how humble, kind and generous he was. He was a selfless man. Dad really worked hard for his family and for others. But he worked to live, he didn’t live to work. He worked hard to support his family and as long as his family was looked after, he was happy with that.”
Ruscio met his wife Annunziata (Nancy) in 1967 by chance while making a delivery to her family home in Genova, Italy.
The delivery - which consisted of driving a friend’s car north to Genova as a favour - led to his meeting his wife.
“Out of his generosity came his wife and family,” Joe said.
As another example of his father’s generosity, Joe said “when he was living in Rome, he was taking the bus to work and he had just enough money to get back home. He came across a homeless person and gave him his money and walked two hours to get home.”
“That was his character. He appreciated what he had when he became successful in business later. He didn’t take it for granted.”
“He did a few big things (but) I think he did a ton of little things that have now left a huge impact on our community.”
The successful Ruscio business presence in Sault Ste. Marie continues.
Joe Ruscio, an accountant, helps with managing Ruscio Developments, his brother Dave on the construction side as owner/operator of Ruscio Masonry and Construction.
A visitation will be held at Northwood Funeral Home Saturday (details may be found on SooToday’s obituaries page), followed by a private family gathering.