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Rocco DeSimone, 73, owner of Jan's Heros restaurants

Rocco "Rocky" DeSimone, owner for 31 years of Jan's Heros, a series of popular restaurants, has died at age 73.

Mr. DeSimone, who came here from his native Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1964, died Saturday (March 15, 1997) at home.

He had heart trouble for several years but continued to work until December, his daughter, Cindy, said Monday.

In New York City, he and his wife, Janet, owned several restaurants, all called Rocky's and mostly in Brooklyn. When he shifted his operations to St. Petersburg, the restaurants were named for his wife.

Growing up in a family of 10 boys, Mr. DeSimone learned to cook early. Somebody had to help in the kitchen, and he proved a natural for it.

He was drawn to St. Petersburg when he and his wife of 43 years inherited a house after the death of her mother.

A year after his arrival here, he opened Jan's Heros, a sundries store on Fourth Street and 85th Avenue N, choosing the location because it was far away from powerhouse retailer Webb's City at First Avenue S and Ninth (now Dr. M. L. King) Street.

"Nobody could go in business with Webb's around," he said in 1994. "But he was too far away to do me any harm."

At the 85th Avenue N location, Mr. DeSimone fed the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team one season.

He moved the business twice, always operating on Fourth Street N. At the time of his death, Jan's Heros Sub Shop was at 6837 Fourth St. N.

Mr. DeSimone was an Army veteran of World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater. His wife and daughter are his only survivors.

His daughter said her father, "a character, not prim and proper," wanted to be cremated and his ashes kept in a Ritz cracker tin.

"We're going to put it up at the restaurant," she said, "and when people ask, "Where's Rocky?' I can point."

_ Information from Times files was used in this obituary.

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