Henry Q. "Hank" Centore
1935 - 2024
Obituary of Henry Q. Centore
Henry Q. Centore, 89, of Syracuse, died peacefully Jan. 31 surrounded by his beloved family.
Henry burst into the world at 10:10 a.m. January 1, 1935, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, making headlines as the first baby boy born that year in Onondaga County, setting the stage for a long and newsworthy life to follow.
Henry wore many hats and wore them all well: Men’s shop owner, singer, actor, chef, craftsman, communicant, devoted community servant and even amateur vigilante.
But the roles he cherished above all others were that of husband to his wife of 62 years, Patrice; father to his five children; and Poppy to his eleven grandchildren.
No Sunday dinner or holiday gathering officially began until Henry raised his glass of red wine at the dinner table to shout, “A la famiglia.”
He was a fixture at The Causeway Giants’ shows, his grandchildren’s soccer, lacrosse and football games, cross country, track and swim meets, piano and dance recitals, school musicals, head shaves, concerts, communions, confirmations and graduations. He loved hearing about his children’s and grandchildren’s adventures and accomplishments but was most proud of their character. He instilled in all of them his love of family, his humor, wisdom, compassion, strong work ethic and commitment to service.
A lifelong resident of Syracuse, Henry grew up on Hoefler St. in Skunk City and after devoting 50 years running Centore’s Men’s Shop and serving the poor and hungry in his community, he was well known around town as Hank. Everywhere he went, he ran into old friends or former customers, even men he once helped through his volunteer work, and he always took time to share a story, a joke and a smile. It never ceased to amaze his grandchildren that anywhere they went, someone knew their Poppy. He was a true pillar of the Syracuse community.
He attended Most Holy Rosary School from kindergarten through 12th grade and went on to attend Le Moyne College. He left school to run the family business when his father fell ill. His father opened Henry Q. Centore and Son clothing store in downtown Syracuse in 1921 where they made custom-tailored men’s wear. It later became Centore’s Men’s Shop with locations in Western Lights and then Fairmount, Liverpool and Fayetteville. After fitting thousands of young men for their prom or wedding tuxedos, Henry retired from the business in 2001.
A founding member and communicant of St. Ann’s on Onondaga Blvd, Henry lived by the gospel of Matthew 25:40 that says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”
His volunteer work began in earnest in 1989 when he started serving breakfast once a week at the Cathedral Breakfast program. Every Wednesday morning, he cooked up dozens of eggs and countless pounds of bacon and sausage, handed out clothing, helped with ID cards and bus passes for men living at the Oxford Inn—all before opening his store at 10 a.m.
He was a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, and he helped run the Catholic Charities Emergency Services Food Pantry for many years. He was recognized twice for his faith-based charity work; in 2015 with the Immaculata Award for Service from the Diocese of Syracuse and in 2021 with the President’s Award from Catholic Charities. These awards recognized his devotion to the betterment of the human condition and a concern for others.
But his most storied awards came in 2006 when he was recognized for thwarting a bank robbery at M&T Bank in Western Lights. He witnessed the robbery in progress while leaving Wegmans and he followed the getaway car until police could intervene. For his unselfish and heroic act—for which his wife almost killed him—he was given a Citizen Community Service Award from the District Attorney’s Advisory Council and a Civilian Commendation from the Syracuse Police Department. He was 71 years old at the time.
None of his successes would have been possible without the steadfast love and support of his cherished wife Patrice. He first spotted her walking to work downtown when he and his father would drive to their shop. His father thought she was too skinny, but Henry was smitten. During daily mass at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, he would shake the collection basket at her to get her attention. But it wasn’t until a chance meeting in a dive bar after skiing that he wooed her away from another suitor with his arsenal of jokes and wise cracks. They married a few months later, in July of 1961.
Henry was fiercely proud of his Italian heritage, but he loved a good pint of Guinness and the music of Liam Clancy as much as any Irishman. He loved to sing Irish songs at parties, in bars and on stage at St. Ann’s and St. Lucy’s annual cabarets.
He and Patrice enjoyed traveling, spending many summers on Cape Cod and winters in Puerto Rico with five trips to Italy and one to Ireland with their daughters and their families. He loved to eat good food, whether it was a cannoli from Nino’s Italian Bakery, a plate of pasta at home, a basket of wings at The Blarney Stone or a platter of roast pork, beans and rice and platanos at a pig roast in the hills of Puerto Rico. And if you were with Henry at 5 p.m. he always invited you to join him in a perfect Manhattan.
He loved to cook for his family and his pancakes, stuffed calamari and biscotti were family favorites. His “Biscotti Amore” once won Honorable Mention at the New York State Fair. And though his wife is known as the artist, Henry also won four state fair ribbons in arts and crafts. He enjoyed making ceramics, furniture out of twigs and walking sticks for his grandkids out of found branches. Early mornings found him bird watching on his back porch with his binoculars, and his grandchildren dutifully filled his many bird feeders. Every Memorial Day and July 4th they helped him brighten up the Winkworth neighborhood by lining his street with American flags while he blared patriotic music from his car radio.
Aside from his family, his most recent and crowning achievement was working to have a “Homeless Jesus” statue installed outside the downtown Cathedral in 2022. The statue depicts a a life-size person huddled under a blanket on a bench whose feet reveal wounds from the crucifixion. Henry worked for years to bring the statue here in hopes that it would inspire others to be more compassionate and charitable.
He is predeceased by his parents, Henry Q. and Philomena (Germain), his brother Thomas and sisters Marie Matchuk, Rosecarmel DeMari and Gloria Anna Centore.
He is survived by his wife Patrice; his children Maria (George) McNamara, Jenny, Matthew (Stephanie Horton); Michael (Laura) and Christopher (Jeanne Albanese); grandchildren Ashley and Brendan McNamara; Jake, Hannah, Ian (Matthew); Noah, Andrew, Sofia (Michael); Henry, Bohdan and Angelina (Chris), as well as his loving sister Patricia, sister-in-law Dorothy DeMari and many nieces and nephews.
His family would like to extend its gratitude to the caring and attentive staff on 6H at Upstate Medical University's downtown hospital.
Calling hours will be Monday, February 5, 2024 at the Edward J. Ryan & Son Funeral Home from 4 to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, February 6, 2024 at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception followed by burial at St. Francis Cemetery in Marcellus. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Catholic Charities of Onondaga County Men’s Shelter or the Samaritan Center.
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In Loving Memory
1935 - 2024
3180 Bellevue Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13219
Phone: (315) 468-3443
Fax: (315) 468-6004
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