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Baltimore Mourns Death Of The King Of Kielbasa, John Ostrowski

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore is remembering one of its best known characters. John Ostrowski spent all of his life at the family business in Fells Point.

Ron Matz reports Ostrowski’s death has left a void for the hundreds of people who came for miles to buy some of the best Polish sausage on the East Coast.

Known as the King of Kielbasa, he delighted customers for decades at the family-owned Ostrowski’s Famous Polish Sausage empire on Washington Street.

“He was funny. He was very boisterous. He was adamant about his product, and that’s why we came down here,” said David Bocek, of Rosedale.

Carleen Miller has been working for Mr. John since she was 16.

“My grandmother lives right next door. I have lots of fond memories. We worked a lot of festivals. I was here pretty much every holiday. Lots of good jokes. He was a funny character,” Miller said.

The long Good Friday lines became a Baltimore tradition.

“It’s very hard to be at work today,” Miller said. “Business has to carry on. That’s what he would want.”

The food is handmade.  Ostrowski’s grandfather opened the store in 1919 after coming to Baltimore from Poland. The business, led by the man called “The Lord of the Rings,” stayed in the family until it was sold last December.

“I’m going to miss all those jokes. He was just a great person. He always had a smile. He was a good guy. He was a good person to be around,” said Erika Hromk, of Canton.

Hromk says she’s saddened.

“We lost a good man yesterday. I worked for him since I was 15, half my life,” Hromk said.

Ostrowski was 72 when he died Wednesday. He will especially be remembered on Good Friday, the store’s busiest day of the year.

“My fondest memories are just his funny jokes,” Miller said. “Working here, lots of good times. He was very loved by lots of people.”

A funeral Mass for Ostrowski is scheduled for next Friday, April 25, 10 a.m. at Holy Rosary Church in Fells Point.

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