Joseph G. D'Adamo, makeup editor and restaurant reviewer for Evening Sun

Joseph G. D'Adamo, a longtime makeup editor for The Evening Sun who also reviewed restaurants for the paper, died Wednesday of complications from a stroke at Seasons Hospice at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

The White Marsh resident was 88.

"Joe was a smart, savvy editor, balancing and meeting the different demands of the news department, printers and the typographical department. Many reporters never got to know him well because of the physical separation on different floors," said Ernest F. Imhoff, a former longtime editor for The Evening Sun and The Baltimore Sun.

"Joe and I talked often daily when I was city editor. We were pals, close comrades in the fight to get out the several Evening Sun editions; they changed every day," Mr. Imhoff said. "I might say by phone, 'Replate 7th edition, Joe,' not the Hollywood 'Stop the presses, Joe,' but it was with the same urgency. We had so much fun."

A gregarious figure with a wide smile and easygoing demeanor that belied the daily pressure he worked under, Mr. D'Adamo worked in the fourth-floor composing room in the newspaper's Calvert Street building, where he supervised the makeup of the paper. He worked with printers, Linotype operators and news department personnel who arrived to oversee the makeup of their sections.

On The Evening Sun's 78th anniversary in 1988, Mr. D'Adamo wrote in an op-ed piece that over his 41 years at the newspaper, he figured he met more than 50,000 deadlines.

"I liked to think of the composing room ... as the 'pressure cooker,'" he wrote.

During his career, he witnessed drastic changes in how newspapers were produced.

"The changes have involved the mechanical as well as the human aspect. Forty-one years ago, the newspaper was put together in 'hot metal,' by typewriter, line by line on linotype machines, in steel chases, stereotyped mats, molded lead cylinders, letter-press, hand-stuffed when necessary, counted and bound and delivered to the customer," he wrote.

"All those methods are now a part of the dim past. The computer has changed everything in the 'cold-type' era, from the desktop word processor to photo-composition to automatic bundling," he wrote.

The son of Luigi D'Adamo, a cement finisher, and Assunta D'Adamo, Joseph Gabriel D'Adamo Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Little Italy, where he was a graduate of St. Leo's parochial school.

He was a 1946 graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he edited The Daily Press, the school's newspaper, and its yearbook, The Poly Cracker.

During his high school years from 1942 to 1946 he worked as a statistician with Bill Dyer, a WITH radio broadcaster who covered the minor league Orioles.

Mr. D'Adamo studied journalism at the University of Baltimore and in 1946, joined The Evening Sun as a sportswriter in the newspaper's old Sun Square building at Baltimore and Charles streets, where he covered high school and amateur sports.

"Joe told people when he was a young reporter newly arrived at The Baltimore Sun, he got onto an elevator and met this older gentleman who said 'Get outta my way,' shoved Joe aside without introductions and walked out," Mr. Imhoff said. "It was how Joe met H.L. Mencken."

Mr. D'Adamo was eventually promoted to chief makeup editor, a position he held until retiring in 1987.

In addition to his work in the composing room, he was for 25 years the Baltimore correspondent for Sports Illustrated magazine, reporting on the city's sport scene as well as writing profiles of such figures as Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken, Wes Unseld, Bill Russell, Lenny Moore, Lefty Driesell and George Plimpton.

In 1980, Mr. D'Adamo unveiled Dining Out, a restaurant review column in The Evening Sun. It quickly became a popular feature with readers, who enjoyed his forays to off-the-beaten-path taverns and restaurants, accompanied by his wife, the former Ann V. Giorgilli whom he married in 1949.

A regular feature of the column was Mr. D'Adamo's inclusion of the recipe for a restaurant's signature dish.

He set the tone in his inaugural column when he wrote: "To help you get the most for your dining-out dollar while enjoying what Baltimore has to offer."

Upon his retirement, he wrote: "For the present, the future is undecided. But you can be certain that it will be around food. There are pork chops out there waiting to be eaten. Arrivederci! Buon appetito!"

He revived the column for eight years when he wrote reviews for the East Baltimore Guide.

He also served as a referee for amateur and high school basketball games for the city's Bureau of Recreation and Parks and coached the Catonsville Community College girls softball team.

After ending his newspaper career, he began a second one as junior varsity coach at Catholic High School, and from 1988 to 1995 he was commissioner of the Maryland Wrestling Officials Association, which assigned officials to area high school meets.

A lifelong communicant of St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church, the former resident of Belair-Edison was active in the church's suppers and festivals. He was a founder of the Rev. Oreste Padola Adult Learning Center at the old St. Leo's parochial school, and was active in the Holy Name Society.

As a member and former president of the Little Italy Lodge, he compiled and edited the organization's cookbook, "Let's Cook Italian," which sold more than 10,000 copies and earned national awards, family members said.

In 1995, he appeared before the House of Representatives to receive the Thomas J. D'Alesandro Jr. Good Citizenship Award for his "contribution to the Italian-American community" from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Mr. D'Alesandro's daughter.

Plans for funeral services are incomplete.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Joseph G. D'Adamo Jr. of Chase; twin daughters, Deborah D'Adamo of Abingdon and Denise Iafolla of Chase; a brother, Louis D'Adamo of Rosedale; nine grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

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