Reminiscences: Elsie Picone had a huge impact on her community

Though small in stature, Elsie Picone left a big impact with her community involvement and dedication to Dundas.

The matriarch of Picone Fine Food passed away on Jan. 29 at 85 surrounded by family.

Elsie Picone.

Elsie Picone.

Daughter Theresa Picone recalls her mother as community-minded and someone who was mentor to many people, especially women.

“A lot of women really appreciated her smile, her stamina, and seeing her cooking,” she said. “She lived her values, she had strong beliefs and she was challenging at times; but she instilled in me the strength to believe in your convictions and to never waver.”

She was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago, and hadn’t been working in the store this past year, her daughter said.

Her mother was able to do a lot of things and many people were generous with their time so she was able visit many places, she added.

“We knew cancer was just one of those things,” her daughter said. “At the very end it was quick and she didn’t suffer a lot. All of us were at the end for almost two days until she passed.”

Fara Mintz recalls working at the Picone Fine Food throughout high school.

Now a lawyer working in Toronto, it was her first job and the foundation of what she provides to her clients today.

Many high school students from Dundas and west Hamilton worked at the food store, she said.

“She really instilled in me the value of hard work and also the value of respect and being respectful to the customers – it was about giving the level of customer service you would want to receive,” she said. “It was a phenomenal experience and the foundation of the success I’ve had since then. It is a huge hole for Dundas – anyone who knew Mrs. Picone, was truly blessed.”

Peter Hargreave worked at the store throughout high school and university, and said Picone and the store are a huge part of the community.

“She was somebody that put absolutely everything into her work, her store and into the community,” said Hargreave. “She was a woman small in stature and small in voice but she had a huge impact on the community. She treated us as family and always thankful and always gave back.”

Picone was a real pillar in the community and there are many political leaders in the province who stopped into her store for a piece of pie, added Hargreave.

MPP Ted McMeekin knew Picone for more than 30 years and noted she was a staple in the community.

“I’d go to her store and buy a pie because she makes the best pie in Dundas. If she wasn’t in the front then I would search her out just to say, ‘hi,’” he said. “When it comes to pies, she’s a real sweetie pie. She’s loving, kind, genuine, and the most friendly person there is.”

Picone received many community awards throughout her life, including Citizen of the Year, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and Paul Harris Fellowship. She was a founding member of Dundas Community Services and an active member of her church.

The Dundas Community Services recognized Picone in December for her outstanding volunteer work in the community.

She was one of the founding members of the group when it started 40 years ago and she remained committed to helping organizations and clubs, even donating a couple of pies, said McMeekin.

Picone’s son, Mark, also initiated an award in her name called the Elsie Picone Award. It is given to a graduating high school student for voluntary contributions to the community.

Dundas councillor Russ Powers she had been extraordinary.

Powers knew Piccone for nearly 50 years and met her when he moved to Dundas with his family.

“It was one of the few places in Dundas to go to if you lived downtown – it’s where my parents shopped, and ultimately where my wife and I shopped,” he said. “But it’s her personal contributions and, by extension, the contributions of her business, along with her mentoring to the youth in the community, that will be remembered.

A funeral will be held on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church (58 Sydenham St.) in Dundas.

Visitation will be held at the Cattel, Eaton and Chambers Funeral Home (53 Main St.) on Jan. 31 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Vigil prayers will be on Friday at 8 p.m.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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