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Marco Lemus, beloved Baltimore server at La Scala and doting father, dies

Marco Lemus started working at Baltimore’s La Scala Ristorante Italiano when he was 15 years old.
Marco Lemus started working at Baltimore’s La Scala Ristorante Italiano when he was 15 years old. (Samantha Pilon)

Marco Lemus, a beloved server at Baltimore’s La Scala Ristorante Italiano known for his sense of humor and a doting father to his 6-year-old daughter, died at Johns Hopkins Bayview on Sunday of injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident. He was 26.

An enthusiast of cars, four-wheelers and personal watercraft, Mr. Lemus was riding his motorcycle to work at the restaurant, where he was known for charming his way out of running late, Friday when he collided with a pickup truck along Holabird Avenue, according to family and friends. He endured multiple surgeries for the extensive injuries before he died.

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Marco Tulio Lemus Osorio was born in Guatemala to Marco Tulio Lemus Osorio and Blanca Elizabeth Lemus, the youngest of five children, said his cousin, Diana Santizo, 23. The family immigrated to the United States when Mr. Lemus was a young boy and settled in the Baltimore area, with Lemus’ parents finding work cleaning houses and painting. He grew up in various locations around Baltimore.

He attended Lansdowne Middle School around 2008 with Jose Torres, who considered Mr. Lemus his best friend, before they moved on to different high schools. Mr. Torres said their mothers introduced them at an orientation and that they played soccer together and against each other. Mr. Lemus was an attacking midfielder; Mr. Torres was a striker.

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Mr. Lemus attended Patapsco High School and the Center for the Arts through the 11th grade. He had started working as a busboy at La Scala at 15, according to his boss and friend, Chesley Patterson, the restaurant’s manager, and continued to work there after he left school. He became an invaluable employee and part of the fabric of the place.

“He was my best server. I knew I could throw him into anything and he could do it well,” Mr. Patterson said.

Mr. Lemus had a propensity for making others smile, even under stressful circumstances.

“He could have 12 tables at one time and he would always say, ‘I got you ‘Chesco’. I got you,’” Mr. Patterson recalled.

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Customers asked to be seated in Mr. Lemus’ section “so they could giggle with him,” said Bulat Kamelov, a bartender at La Scala and a close friend. “He was smooth. He could make people feel a sort of way and that way would be a good way. He just warms people up.”

Mr. Kamelov said Mr. Lemus lit up the room with his smile. When Mr. Kamelov finished preparing a drink, he’d leave it at the server’s station for someone to take to the table. Most servers picked up the drinks and left; Mr. Lemus would come around the corner, pinch Mr. Kamelov’s elbow, giggle and walk away. After work, they’d go over to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood to watch a UFC fight.

“I’m going to miss his jokes,” Mr. Kamelov said.

Marco Lemus was a doting father to his 6-year-old daughter.
Marco Lemus was a doting father to his 6-year-old daughter.

Above work, friends and fun activities, Mr. Lemus’ daughter Delainey came first, his friends and family said.

Ms. Santizo said he grew up fast when he learned he was going to be a father at 20. He became “an amazing dad” who developed an inseparable bond with his daughter.

“[She’s] always been his whole world,” Ms. Santizo said. “That’s his queen right there.”

He took Delainey out to eat, out fishing and on trips to the beach. He was determined to provide for her to be able to do some of the things he couldn’t as a child. About a month before Mr. Lemus died, he took her to Walt Disney World for her birthday. Mr. Lemus told Mr. Torres he bought her a necklace and was proud he was able to take her on an airplane for the first time.

Mr. Lemus planned to enroll to complete his GED as soon as January to be able to provide more opportunities for Delainey. He already was a hard worker. When restaurants shuttered because of coronavirus restrictions, Mr. Lemus found work installing insulation. Ms. Santizo said he dreamed of running his own business, though he wasn’t yet sure in what field.

Delainey was well known at La Scala, which became Mr. Lemus’ second home and family, because Mr. Lemus always talked about her. He also brought her there to eat on his days off.

“He’d say, ‘I’m on a date with my daughter,’” Mr. Kamelov recalled.

In addition to Delainey and his parents, both of whom reside in the Baltimore area, Mr. Lemus is survived by four siblings who live in Dundalk: Carolina Lemus, Donis Lemus, Obel Lemus and Rosita Lemus.

He also leaves behind cousins and legions of friends, many of whom visited him in the hospital in his final hours.

Ms. Santizo said a public viewing will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at St. Clement Church at 2700 Washington Ave. in Halethorpe. A memorial service, also public, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the same location. Interment will follow at the Oak Lawn Cemetery at 7225 Eastern Ave. in Baltimore.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Mr. Lemus’ family pay for his memorial services and to provide for Delainey.

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