Remembering LS Foods' Leo Sabatini
With a little help from our friends
July 13, 2011 - Last week The Review brought readers the sad news of Leo Sabatini's passing, at the age of 94. He died on July 1, 2011 (a Friday) and as soon as we received the notice, we posted on The Review's Facebook page. We were hoping members of the community would send in their thoughts of Mr. Sabatini -- who owned and operated LS Family Foods at the southeast corner of Broadway (M-24) and Atwater streets for decades.
|Mr. Sabatini as he was seen in The Review in 1967, and above in a recent photo. (click for larger version)|
Our Facebook Friends didn't let us down. Here's what they posted.
Tom Bulla, "A lot of us got our first job at his store. What a great Guy, always busy, always involved. Raised some great kids! RIP Leo."
Peggy Serritella Boggs, "I miss that store so much! RIP Mr. S."
Torch Harrison, "I remember him as a kid. He was always very nice at L&S to everyone. A good person and a great booster to this community."
Janice Ryan, "My first job in high school. Nice boss! R.I.P. Leo"
Crystal English, "Kathie Webb said it perfectly . . . Leo was a Lake Orion Icon. He will be missed. RIP Mr. S."
Gar Fish, (LS was) "The" grocery store in Lake Orion —back in the day!!! Thanks, Leo. RIP
Kathie Matthews, "Wonderful LO Icon, always had a smile. Remember him from when I was a young girl in the 60's. May he RIP."
Stacy Lawrence Baird, "I remember as a kid...that was the only place my parents shopped. I was sad the day it was tore down."
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Aside from the normal information like who Mr. Sabatini was survived by, the notice we received contained scant info. So, this weekend we started to scour our archives, Orion Township Public Library's online archives of our newspaper (at www.orion.lib.mi.us/idigorion) and the internet's Google. And, we discovered why he was so popular.
Mr. Sabatini was not only a businessman in town, he became a town resident, raised his family here, went to church (St. Joseph's Catholic Church) here and was truly a booster of this community. The first mention of Mr. Sabatini in our pages was on Oct. 4, 1956 on Page 5.
Pontiac Man Takes Over Schick's Market
"Leo Sabatini of Pontiac is the new proprieter of the former Schick's Self Service Market at 331 S. Broadway. Until recently manager for Nick's Food Market in Pontiac, Sabatini plans to move to Lake Orion later with his wife and four children.
"He purchased the local food business from Virgil Schikc, who will retain the appliance business and operate it ih his home at 341 S. Broadway. Schick will also retain the market phone number, MY 3-3711.
"Both of the market employees will continue to work for the new owner, says Sabatini, The are MRs. Violet Roden, cashier, and Niles LaMond, meat cuttter, both Lake Orion residents.
"No major changes in the business are being made by Sabatini at present but he plans to modernize the store later."
From our research we also learned that Mr. Sabatini was involved not only with his store, but also the direction of Lake Orion. In the 1960s, he was involved in the committee charged with investigating the pros and cons of cityhood for Lake Orion Village.
He was made a Lake Orion Band Booster for Life for contrubutions made; elected president of the Orion Chamber of Commerce in 1967.
In March of 1966, he made good on his promise of modernizing the store -- with a grand opening of the "new" LS Foodland. On sale for the grand opening at LS, as advertised in the March 24, 1966 edtion of The Review,were a dozen navel oranges for 39 cents. (Also, in The Review that week, was a notice of UFO's spotted over Orion -- blue lights were spotted hoovering over VanWagner's Drug Store).
Mr. Sabatini grew the grocery store to employe over 50 people at one time. In 1982, The Review noted Mr. Sabatini was given two awards. He was named Lake Orion Community Schools "Man of the Year," as well as being "Man of the Year" for the Lake Orion Lions Club.
The self service market's named changed a few times over the years. From LS Foodland, to LS Supermarket and finally LS Family Foods.
In August of 1999, LS Family Foods closed for good. In the artilce, Pat Harris is quoted as saying he purchased the grocery store from Mr. Sabatini in 1981.
After retiring, Mr. Sabatini moved from Lake Orion to Almont. He was the husband of Rose (Mendicino) of 64 years. Together the couple had six children, Sherry (Jim) Purdy, Linda (Don) Guldi, Rose Marie (Tom) Schoen, Maryann (Kirk) Curtis, Leo (Harriet) Sabatini Jr. and the late Cynthia Hoover.
The Sabatinis had 26 grandchildren and 20 great-grandkids.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org