DETROIT (WWJ) – A Detroit-area businessman who came to be known as the Godfather of Eastern Market has died. Samuel “Sal” Ciaramitaro operated Ciaramitaro Brothers Produce with his family for about 70 years.
He died December 3 following a lengthy illness. He was 90 years old.
Ciaramitaro began working in his family’s produce operation when he was 8 years old, assisting with sorting boxes and arranging produce. He literally grew up literally in Eastern Market, and, as an adult, did a lot to keep the area growing and thriving.
Longtime friend Ed Deeb, Chairman and Founder of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, remembers Sal Ciaramitaro as someone others would look to when they needed help.
“Anytime anybody had a problem there at the market, they’d call Sal,” said Deeb. ”In addition to that, they also knew he and his wife Anna as, uh, the fact [were] the personalities of the market. And, anytime their vendors and customers walked in early in the morning they would be greeted … with a big smile and a cup of coffee.”
Deeb said Ciaramitaro regularly worked on a Christmas food give-a-way for area residents in need.
“We started that about 17 years ago, and we loved helping people in the Eastern Market area who needed our help; who were hungry or homeless,” said Deeb. “And we worked very closely then with father Norman Thomas of Sacred Heart church … Sal was just one of those guys who was just well-liked and well-received.”
Ciaramitaro was a board member of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association. He also was an active member of American Legion, Post 570, and the Metro Detroit Produce Vendors. In 2008, MFBA presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is survived by his wife Anna, two sons and daughter, along with several grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at Verheyden Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe Park with viewing on Thursday Dec. 5. The funeral mass will be held Friday, 10:30 a.m., Dec.6 at St. Lucy Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores