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Thursday, December 11, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Julius Rosso's impact grew beyond nursery

Seattle Times staff reporter

Known as a generous, hard-working and sometimes stubborn man, Julius P. Rosso laid down the roots for a landmark local nursery and landscaping business with his first Seattle job.

Mr. Rosso, who emigrated from Italy as a child, was turned away from jobs in the coal mines in Ronald, Kittitas County. Impatient and determined, Mr. Rosso headed for Seattle with a single suitcase in hand.

Mr. Rosso, who died at 91 last week of congestive heart failure, found a job in the flower business and from that built a family business that has lasted three generations.

Julius Rosso's Nursery and Garden Center in Georgetown, a favorite of local gardeners and landscapers, is now run by Mr. Rosso's two sons and his grandchildren.

"He was a hard worker," said grandson Geno Rosso of Seattle. "And a great and generous man."

Mr. Rosso made donations to hundreds of local charities, raised thousands of dollars for the Northwest Kidney Foundation, served as president of the Seattle Italian Club and was recently named Outstanding Italian Citizen of the Year.

Mr. Rosso got his Seattle start as a delivery driver with the Rosaia Brothers greenhouses in Kent shortly after arriving in town.

He married Ada Lombardo and went on to become the manager, then owner, of Seattle Flower Growers. He made local news when he became the first person nationwide to ship live flowers as a token of appreciation to servicemen during World War II.

Mr. Rosso also was known by his loved ones for his friendly humor, his passion for gathering mushrooms, his appreciation of attractive women and his generosity at home and at work.

When the Rosso family got a television set, Mr. Rosso invited children up and down the street to watch. Later, when the family built a swimming pool, he hired a teacher to give lessons to all the neighborhood kids.

In 1956, Mr. Rosso sold Seattle Flower Growers and began spending more time at home in semi-retirement, his son Jerry Rosso of Seattle said. But Mr. Rosso and his wife, who were well-matched in most every other way, had their own ideas about running the house.

"Mom had a routine and had a way of doing her housework every day. She would vacuum the rug every day, whether it needed it or not. She would put on an old RPM record and let it play over and over and over again and drove dad crazy," Jerry Rosso said.

In addition to his son and grandson, Mr. Rosso leaves behind his other son, Gene Rosso of Seattle, five other grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral Mass for Mr. Rosso will be held today at 10 a.m. at St. George Church, 5306 13th Ave. S., Seattle. Memorials are suggested to the Northwest Kidney Foundation, P.O. Box 3035, Seattle, WA 98114.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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