The Local, August 6, 2010
Frank Romeo, pharmacist at Greene Community Pharmacy, died suddenly from unknown causes last Friday. He was 50. His colleagues, customers, neighbors and family say they remember him as a generous, community-oriented and kind person.
“As long as I can remember, he’s been around,” said Amy Linden, a long-time Fort Greene resident. She said he was willing to work with patients who were elderly, not well-off, or otherwise in need of help. He hired youths from the neighborhood to work in the pharmacy, and would send them on deliveries for customers who were unable to get to the shop.
Ms. Linden called the shop a “real neighborhood place,” saying Mr. Romeo knew his regular customers by name and would call when prescriptions were ready to be picked up.
“You were family when you went in there,” she said.
Joseph Jean from J&S Tire Shop, located across Fulton Street from the pharmacy, said that last Friday morning he saw the pharmacist park his car, and the two talked while Mr. Romeo smoked a cigar. That same afternoon, Mr. Jean received a phone call telling him Mr. Romeo had passed away.
“He’s like family,” Mr. Jean said. “It’s so sad for us.”
Mr. Romeo was always willing to donate a little money to neighborhood fundraisers, said Adrienne Rosario, who works in the pharmacy. Every winter, he would raffle off a large stocking full of toys to a neighborhood child. The pharmacy plans to continue the annual contest and community giving without him, Ms. Rosario said. She said he would help people get their medications even if they couldn’t afford it.
“He was a wonderful person,” she said.
Mr. Romeo started working at Greene Community Pharmacy in 1999. In 2001, he brought in Sam Hom, a former classmate at Long Island University, to work with him.
“We worked very well together,” Mr. Hom said. He said they joked around while they worked, but they moved through their business quickly. “Nobody waits.”
Mr. Romeo’s sister, Diana Brunetto, said her brother would do anything he could to help someone, without asking what was in it for him. She said the pharmacist, who was unmarried and had no children, was generous to his family as well. He took their elderly father on vacations and doted on his niece and nephews.
Ms. Brunetto said the family does not yet know the exact cause of death, but it may have been a heart attack. She said Mr. Romeo had not been sick.
Renee Egebo, Mr. Romeo’s other sister, said he never wanted gifts at birthdays or Christmas. Instead, he would ask his niece and nephews to get presents for children at neighborhood schools who needed them, Ms. Egebo said.
She said she knew her brother was generous, but her jaw dropped when she heard stories at his funeral about what he did for his neighborhood. He wouldn’t let anyone leave the pharmacy without their medication, whether or not they could pay on the spot, she said.
“Community meant a lot to him.”