The downtown business district suffered a “double whammy” of a loss Dec. 23 with the deaths of Pat Sandroni and Rose Francis, two stalwart business owners.
Sandroni, 54, owned The Downtown Deli at 53 Fall St. with his wife, Ann. Rose Francis, 100, operated a women’s clothing store of the same name at 82 Fall St.
By virtue of her age, Francis was the entrepreneurial matriarch of Fall Street — running a women’s clothing store downtown for 67 years. Compared to her, Sandroni was a relative newcomer. He and his wife took over The Downtown Deli in 1996 and in 2011 added Nonni’s Italian Imports next door (now closed). Prior to that, Sandroni worked at Stever’s Garage.
In many respects the two were quite different, but what connected them was their firm footing in the downtown business district. Francis was reserved, private and always impeccably dressed, often seen sweeping her sidewalk in a skirt and pumps. Sandroni, on the other hand, wore T-shirts and shorts almost year round and was a whirlwind of boisterous motion.
“I think he was just a ball of fire and always on the go, going somewhere to do something,” said Mark Robinette, owner of Robinette Jewelers at 90 Fall St., “He was a tireless worker.”
Lois Jensen of Seneca Office Products at 59 Fall St. recalled how Sandroni would burst into their store and address her and her husband Stewart as “kids,” even though they were older.