Thomas Macaluso, the owner of a beloved bookstore, passes away at the age of 85
By Steven Hoffman
Thomas Macaluso, the owner of Macaluso’s Rare and Fine Books, Maps, and Prints, and a lifelong lover of learning and literature, passed away at the Chester County Hospital on Thursday, March 15. He was 85.
Macaluso was a college professor for 37 years. He taught English at Monmouth College in New Jersey, Ohio State University and at Delaware County Community College. He and his wife Brenda owned and operated Macaluso Rare & Fine Books in Kennett Square for more than 40 years. The bookstore featured six rooms where approximately 25,000 rare books, maps, and prints were lovingly on display. Macaluso's Rare and Fine Books was one of Kennett Square's most distinctive businesses, and was once featured in a New York Times article, “36 Hours in the Brandywine Valley,” that was published in 2013.
Gene Pisasale, a local historian and author, described Macaluso as a rarity―a lover of books in the digital age.
“He was the owner of a bookstore when giants like Borders have long since closed up operations and others are struggling to survive,” Pisasale said. “Yet, walking into his store, one immediately gets the sense that he pursued this not for profit so much as for the love of learning and literature. He was quite familiar with great works of literature and rarities―like signed first editions of classics going back hundreds of years. He told me he had owned and sold many first editions of Ernest Hemingway, along with hundreds of other treasured volumes, over the years.”
Pisasale interviewed Macaluso for his new book, “Hemingway, Cuba and the Great Blue River,” and the love of great books that Macaluso had was evident. He was known to tell people that he was more of a conservator, not a bookseller.
“You could feel his enthusiasm as he spoke about great books and know that he was satisfied being a part of maintaining an important part of our culture―keeping hardcover books alive,”Pisasale said. “He did that well. Tom was a good friend, a kindred spirit and he is dearly missed.”
In addition to being a longtime business owner in town, Macaluso was a fixture in Kennett Square. He was a board member for nonprofits like Historic Kennett Square and the Kennett Library. He was a member of London Grove Friends Meeting. He enjoyed teaching about Quakerism.
“Tom’s steadfast presence and gentle spirit will certainly be missed in the community,” said Mary Hutchins, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square. “We were blessed to have Tom and his wisdom serve on the Historic Kennett Square board of directors from 2006 to 2011. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Brenda and their family.”
Macaluso is survived by his wife of 50 years, Brenda Armstrong Macaluso; a daughter, Maura Macaluso; brothers Leonard and Peter; and three grandchildren, Thomas James, Sicilia Ann and Jonathan Anthony. He was predeceased by two sons, Thomas George and Marcus Caedmon Macaluso.
The community is invited to visit with the Macaluso family and friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at the Kuzo & Grieco Funeral Home Inc. at 250 W. State Street in Kennett Square. A memorial meeting for worship will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 23 at London Grove Friends Meeting, 500 W. Street Road, Kennett Square. Contributions in Macaluso’s memory may be made to Kennett Area Community Service or KACS, PO Box 1025, Kennett Square, PA 19348. To view the online tribute and to share a memory with his family, please visit www.griecocares.com.