John Prestogeorge turned his love of food and his passion for coffee and tea into a family business that he ran for more than 50 years.
Mr. Prestogeorge, 83, of Churchill, was still going to work almost every day, right to the end of his life as he battled cancer. He died on Friday.
Prestogeorge Fine Foods has operated in the Strip District for the last 30 years. He started the business in the early 1960s in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center in Monroeville. About five years later he relocated to the Greengate Mall in Greensburg, where the business prospered.
"My father always had an interest in food, and he was ahead of the curve, fresh-roasting coffee in the early '60s," said his son, Stan of Wilkins, who is now president of the family business.
While most people were buying pre-ground canned coffee from grocery stores, Mr. Prestogeorge was buying quality beans from around the world and doing his own roasting every day so that customers could have fresh, high-quality coffee.
He had more than 200 kinds of coffee and many kinds of teas, which he blended with unusual herbs and fruits and sold in bulk. His teas were always "loose," never in tea bags.
The name of his signature blend of coffee includes his own initials: J.P. Hearty Blend.
"On a Saturday we'll go through 300 pounds," his son said. "It's 80 percent Indonesian Sumatra and 20 percent Vienna roast. It's a medium bold, medium hearty roast."
Mr. Prestogeorge also enjoyed talking with his customers.
"You wouldn't believe the rapport he had with customers," his son said. "He had customers in every state" and it wasn't unusual for him to run into them on family vacations.
A Penn Hills native, Mr. Prestogeorge raised his family in Monroeville and Greensburg. As a father "he was the greatest," his son said. "He was loving and caring and the family did everything together."
Stan Prestogeorge said he and his brothers grew up in the family store "where we worked and played. We used to climb on and jump off the 154-pound sacks of coffee."
Mr. Prestogeorge was a World War II Army Air Forces veteran who served as a meteorological tech.
In addition to his son, Mr. Prestogeorge is survived by his wife for 50 years, Christine Dimitriou Prestogeorge; two other sons, Chris of Frederick, Md., and Ted of Clark Summit, Pa.; one sister, Irene Stefanos of Oakmont; and four grandchildren.
Friends will be received today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Patrick T. Lanigan Funeral Home, 700 Linden Ave., East Pittsburgh, where a Trisagion will be prayed at 7:30 p.m. A funeral will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Ypapanti, the Presentation of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in East Pittsburgh, with a viewing one hour prior to the service. Burial with military honors will follow in Grandview Cemetery, North Versailles.
Memorial donations may be made to Ypapanti, P.O. Box J, East Pittsburgh, PA 15112.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-722-0087.