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Robert C. Petrillose Sr.

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ROBERT C. PETRILLOSE, SR.
Passed away in Elmira, NY on Monday, December 8, 2008 after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson's disease. Bob was born November 17, 1931. He was the son of the late John W. Petrillose, Sr. and Ruth Goff Petrillose. He was a life-long resident of Ithaca, New York until his retirement in September, 2000. Since that time, he and his wife, Sharon Follett Petrillose have lived in Elmira, New York.
Bob was known to most Cornellians as "Hot Truck Bob". For 40 years he owned and operated The Hot Truck where he served hot subs from his Stewart Avenue location, seven nights a week from 10:00 p.m. until as late as 5:00 in the morning. Bob started his career as a young boy in the family restaurant, Johnny's Big Red Grill in Ithaca where he was the chef and manager until its closing in 1981. In 1960 he started his pizza truck business while continuing his work at Johnny's. There was a truck parked across the street from Bob that served cold subs and Bob's truck which served hot subs became known as the Hot Truck (the birthplace of French-bread pizza). He custom prepared hot sandwiches with names like Suicide©, MBC©, PMP©, the Shaggy and a variety of other creative names. All subs were made to order on Ithaca Bakery's French bread with Bob's famous meatballs and ground sausage. The subs were as basic or abundant as the customer desired. Bob had an amazing work ethic, in four decades he missed only a handful of nights. The Cornell students trusted him as a confidant, and he would listen as they chatted about their personal lives, commenting, joking and offering advice - all while a crowd of customers patiently waited outside - the lucky ones were able to jostle their way in for a prized place inside the truck. Bob had the ability to remember the orders, listen to the ever present blaring radio (tuned in to WVBR), deal with the late-night rowdy customers and those that just wanted to talk, all while remaining calm in the midst of constant chaos.
After closing up in the pre-dawn hours, he would return to his former home of 35 years, located at 166 Pleasant Grove Road in Ithaca, NY. There he prided himself on immediately cleaning his truck and scrubbing his pans until they shone. As the sun was breaking over the horizon, Bob would be calling it a night, finally able to rest, feeling content with his night's efforts. After a few hours of sleep he would wake and start grinding cheese, processing sausage and preparing vast quantities of meatballs for his late night subs. He truly loved his work and his customers. In his spare moments, Bob enjoyed working on his collection of antique cars and cruising Cayuga Lake on his old wooden Chris Craft cruiser.
In the late 1990's Bob was proud and humbled to be inducted into the Quill & Dagger Society at Cornell University. Membership into this organization has been called "the highest non-scholastic honor within the reach of undergraduates at Cornell University. The Quill & Dagger recognizes exemplary undergraduates of Cornell University who have shown leadership, character and dedication to service" Bob was one of just a few non-Cornell graduates to receive this honor.
Bob is survived by his wife of 57 years Sharon Follett Petrillose, sister Connie Yochum of Avalon, NJ and brother John (Barbara) Petrillose of Sun City, FL. They have three children, Robert Petrillose, Jr. (Mimi Welliver) of Elmira, NY, Renée Petrillose (Dr. Gonzalo Rivera) of Bryan, Texas, Sharon Mueller (Michael) of Elmira, NY. Grandchildren: Lindsay, Mardi and Christopher Petrillose, Katherine and Sgt. Morgan J. Ainslie, Nicholas Rivera, Garrett, Emma and Alexander Mueller; Great-grandchildren Brian and Giselli De Oliviera and many nieces and nephews.
His family extends their thanks to his thousands of customers, one who expressed it best when he said of Hot Truck Bob: "He's been the only person that I've known for all four years that I've been here. Friends come in and out of your life but you know that Bob's just going to be there."
Friends are invited to McInerny Funeral Home, corner of Water and Walnut Sts., Elmira on Friday, December 12, 2008 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Bob's funeral service will be held Saturday, December 13, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1054 W. Clinton Street, Elmira, with Reverend Betsey Crimmins officiating. Interment will follow at 12:00 noon in Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Ithaca.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to a scholarship established in Bob's name at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration C/O The Robert C. Petrillose Scholarship Fund, Tompkins Trust Company, Attention Sue Lason, PO Box 460, Ithaca, NY 14851.
Additionally, a memorial service is being planned at Sage Chapel on the Cornell Campus at a future date. For updates regarding this, please e-mail [email protected] There will be a website posted at www.hottruckbob.com within the next few days.

Published in Ithaca Journal from Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, 2008
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