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Eleanor May Mazzeo of B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce in Northfield remembered as pillar of community

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NORTHFIELD — Eleanor May Mazzeo, co-founder with her late husband Benjamin Francis Mazzeo Sr. of local institution B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce on New Road, was buried on Thursday. She died Aug. 13.

Mazzeo was 90 and was surrounded by family when she died.

In 1959, Ben Mazzeo opened B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce, and his wife joined him, her obituary said.

The Mazzeos worked side by side to make it a success.

The business grew into what it is today, a retail specialty market and wholesale fruit and produce distributor. Eleanor Mazzeo was the person who paid the bills and took care of the receivables, her obituary said.

Councilman Frank Perri Jr. grew up in the city and knows the Mazzeo family.

“It was great knowing her. I’m personal friends with young Ben (one of her three sons) and his wife, Marsha. I have been in business myself for 45 years,” Perri said about his business, Perri Auto Service on Shore Road.

Eleanor Mazzeo was a pillar in the community, who was always willing to help out, Perri said. She was a big sponsor of the Mainland Band Boosters and was known for helping provide the food for the chicken barbecue at St. Bernadette Church inside St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish, Perri said.

“My father was friends with Ben. .. One of my aunts worked there,” Perri said. “I can’t say enough about what they have done for the community. The legacy speaks for itself.”

B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce is an old type of family business where everyone knows everybody, and all of the restaurants know them.

“There are not too many operations like that anymore. It is an asset to the community,” Perri said. “They (Ben and Eleanor) were hard workers. They were there early in the morning and late at night.”

Maria DeSantis is an assistant manager at B.F. Mazzeo Fruit & Produce, who was hired by Eleanor Mazzeo 18 years ago. She said Mazzeo was easygoing.

“I order stuff and stock. She would come down and say, ‘Well, that looks OK, but how about if you try this?’ I was like, ‘Oh, my God. OK. Let’s do this with this.’ She was open to any idea, or suggestion, anything. She would definitely give anything a try,” said DeSantis, of Egg Harbor Township.

Eleanor Mazzeo was funny with a great sense of humor, said DeSantis, 57.

“She never judged anybody, always accepted the individual for themselves,” DeSantis said as she cried thinking about Mazzeo. “I miss her.”

DeSantis said she was too upset to attend Benjamin Mazzeo’s funeral in 2017. She felt the same way about Eleanor Mazzeo’s service.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, is the co-owner and retail manager at Mazzeo. He was in the store on Wednesday, but the store was closed Thursday for his mother’s visitation, Catholic Mass and burial.

Mazzeo said his mother kept very much to herself and didn’t like the fanfare.

“She and my father did everything together,” said Mazzeo, 57. “When he died, it was hard for her.”

His father and mother would patronize the restaurants they sold produce to including Anchorage Tavern Restaurant and The Crab Trap in Somers Point, A Touch of Italy Restaurant in Egg Harbor Township and Ventura’s Offshore Cafe in Northfield, Mazzeo said.

Kim Anderson, manager at The Crab Trap, used to be a bartender there five years ago and remembered the husband-and-wife team of Ben and Eleanor Mazzeo coming in with at least one of their grandchildren.

The Crab Trap buys fruit from Mazzeo, Anderson said.

“They were sweet people. There are a lot of people who work at the bar, who still remember them,” Anderson said. “She would still come in with one of her sons after Ben passed. They were great people.”

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Mazzeo, Sr., Benjamin Francis, - 83, of Northfield , passed away surrounded by his loving family on Tuesday, February 28th, 2017. His father w…

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