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Aldo Rossi, Parkrose icon, succumbs

Altruistic Parkrose farmer, businessman loved his neighborhood

Second-generation ancestral Italian farmer Aldo Rossi passed away on July 21 in Portland. He was 89 years old.

Aldo Rossi was born March 1, 1920, to Nicola and Edith Rossi in the Parkrose area of what is now Portland.

He attended Parkrose School, located on Northeast Wygant Street, during a time when all 12 grades were taught in the same school. He was active in sports and excelled academically, graduating in 1938. He married Irene Luka in 1961 and carried on his family's tradition to farm the rich soil of Parkrose.

To say that Rossi was a civic booster would be an understatement. He supported his church, his schools and his business community constantly and consistently throughout his life. In 1939 he founded the Parkrose Merchants football team, which became the city A-League champions that first year; ultimately, the team would compete in eight of the next 13 championships.

Aldo Rossi continued to support athletics, especially within the Parkrose School District, all his life. He founded, sponsored and coached the Parkrose School District's seventh-and-eighth-grade Pop Warner football team. He was also an enthusiastic sponsor of all manner of sports at Parkrose High School, attending football, basketball and baseball games at the school and further supporting teams and individuals when the need arose. Rossi was also an avid outdoorsman who loved to go duck hunting with friends and his son-in-law. His athleticism didn't stop with the outdoors, though. As an amateur dancer, Rossi loved to dance the night away.

Rossi was an active member of the Gardeners and Ranchers Association, of which his father and grandfather were stockholders and members. The Gardeners and Ranchers Association was formed in 1906 to help provide a place for local farmers to sell their produce in a wholesale venue. He served on the associations' board of directors and was president from 1991 until the time of his death.

Rossi was also a member of Club Paesano, a group whose Italian ancestry created a strong bond. He was the club's first president and served in that capacity for five years. He continued on the club's board of directors on and off for 25 years.

Rossi was one of the founders of the Northeast Portland Rotary Club.

Through his community work, Rossi became an example to the following generation, not just to his children but also to the entire community. We are all blessed to have such a man alive in our lifetime.

The legacy of Aldo Rossi is the legacy of Italian immigrants coming to America to build a new, prosperous life. Although he was born in the U.S., his father, Nicola Rossi, came from Italy and introduced hard work and determination to Aldo Rossi early in life. Mid-Multnomah County's farming history is steeped in this Italian tradition.

Rossi is survived by his wife, Irene; sister Paulette; sons Joe & Nick; daughter Angela Schillereff; and seven grandchildren. Rossi's younger sister, Stella, preceded him in death.

A funeral mass was held July 28 at St. Rita Catholic Church. Interment was at Rose City Cemetery. Remembrances can be made to the Parkrose Youth Activities Fund, 12809 S.E. 93rd Ave., Clackamas, OR 97015.

Aldo Rossi stops at the end of a row of zucchini to pose for this 1941 photo on the Giusto-Rossi farm in Parkrose, at that time east of the city of Portland. The machine is a Planet Jr. cultivator, which upon changing implements could also be used to plant. In years previous, planting and cultivating were both done by hand one row at a time. This machine, when set up for lettuce and other small crops, could do three rows at a time, a lot less work and a major step up in production.
In 1990 Parkrose farmer Aldo Rossi poses with his tractor. Rossi, a Parkrose icon, made a positive difference in hundreds of people's lives.
Irene and Aldo Rossi were married for 48 years. Here, they're eating dinner at the 2005 Rossi Farms Barn Bash that they - along with sons Nick and Joe - produced the annual event, raising thousands of dollars for Parkrose youth activities over a ten-year span.
Northeast Portland Charter members Keith Manning, left, and Aldo Rossi display badges recognizing their commitment to Rotary and their community.
Taken in 1979 at the Rossi-Giusto Farm in Parkrose, are, from left, Agostino 'Augie' Giusto, farmhands Floyd Horn, Vic Peterson, Aldo Rossi (holding the family dog) and his children: Angela, (in the background on bicycle) and sons Nick and Joe.
Rossi Farms Barn Bash host Aldo Rossi, left, with Margaret and Bill Bitar and Arnie Schmautz at the 2003 party.

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