Andrew Joseph Fava, chairman of the G. Fava Fruit Co. who was associated with the firm for more than 70 years, died of cancer Monday at his daughter's home in Towson. He was 87 and lived in Stoneleigh.
Said one granddaughter: "He was the most special person. He taught us a proverb: 'If you worry about every little thing, you're going to have butterflies in your stomach all the time.' "
Mr. Fava's death came two days before the Baltimore City Life Museums held an open house to celebrate its newest addition, which includes parts of the historic cast-iron facade of the company's 1869 warehouse that once stood where the Baltimore Convention Center is now.
The cast-iron facade was dismantled in 1977 and placed in storage until funds could be raised to reassemble it on the front of the Morton K. Blaustein City Life Exhibition Center, set to open in April near the Shot Tower.
"Clearly, the city held the family, the business and Mr. Fava personally in high esteem, and this honorable family history is one reason why this grand cast-iron lady was saved for future generations," said museum Director Nancy Brennan at yesterday's event.
Mr. Fava, who outlived all eight of his siblings, started working at the fruit company, founded in 1906, when he was 13. He became president after his uncle Giovanni died in 1948. He retired in 1988 but remained chairman until his death.
"He had a good work ethic and his employees were very devoted to him," said Theodore J. Potthast Jr., a son-in-law and an attorney in Towson. "He took a personal interest in them and knew their families. He operated the business as if everybody was a part of the family."
At one time, Mr. Fava owned 17 buildings in downtown Baltimore including the Savoia winery, which stood where the USF&G; skyscraper stands today. He also helped his family operate the Savoia Restaurant, a former landmark for 80 years at 220 Park Ave. He was a devoted family man who spent countless hours with his grandchildren. His two great-grandsons were with him when he died, said Mia Walsh of Baltimore, a granddaughter.
Mr. Fava was an avid pinochle player who taught his grandchildren the card game. He also taught them proverbs in the Sicilian dialect, and lectured them about family traditions and business ethics, Ms. Walsh said. All of his grandchildren worked at the company while they were growing up.
"He taught us to live each day as it comes, and always to face the world with a smile on your face even if there are problems in your personal life or business life," said Ms. Walsh.
Family members also remembered him as an excellent cook whose specialties were veal scaloppine and a Sicilian eggplant dish called caponadina.
His wife of 58 years, the former Sara Cicero, died in 1988.
A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Fava will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues in Towson.
He is survived by a daughter, Constance Fava Potthast of Towson; a son, Frank A. Fava of Towson, president of the fruit company; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Notre Dame Preparatory School or to Loyola High School.