Carmen Potito, 46, succumbed to complications from a bone-marrow transplant on Monday. He was lauded as a kind and charitable businessman and family man.
His life was far too short, but it was overwhelmingly meaningful for those whose lives he touched, whether as a husband, father, baker or friend.
Those closest to Carmen Potito thought the worst was over until this past week, when the former leukemia patient suffered complications from the bone-marrow transplant he received back in November.
Mr. Potito, 46, died Monday night at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
He had battled leukemia off and on for the past two years, though he had been in remission for the last several months.
When his cancer resurfaced last year, doctors informed him of the need for a bone-marrow transplant to survive. When none of Potito's family members proved to be matches, his cousin, Isabella Corcoran, organized a marrow drive that drew hundreds of potential donors.
The owner of Potito's Bakery, 1614 Ritner St., ultimately had to use his own cells for a stem-cell transplant, which would temporarily force his leukemia into remission.
Finally, after two months of frequent hospital visits and waiting for a marrow match, Mr. Potito received a donor and underwent the transplant successfully in November.
Only three months ago, doctors told Potito that the newly implanted marrow was functioning well, which is why his death came as a shock.
"The fight was lost, but it wasn't even the leukemia that killed him," Corcoran said.
Throughout his illness, Mr. Potito remained hopeful and determined. Friends, relatives and customers remember him as a loving, generous and thoughtful man.
"He was very generous to everyone and touched a lot of people in his lifetime," Corcoran said. "So many people loved him."
Above all, throughout his two-year battle with cancer, Mr. Potito remained dedicated to his family.
"He lived for his wife and kids," his cousin said.
Carmen Potito is survived by his wife, Maria; daughters Cristina, 21, Nicole, 17, and Briana, 12; his parents, Antonio and Augusta Potito; his mother-in-law, Antonia Pellerito; three sisters, in-laws and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass (no viewing) is being held 11 a.m. today at St. Monica's Church, 17th and Ritner streets. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mr. Potito's memory to The Leukemia Society of America, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter, 2 International Plaza, Philadelphia, Pa. 19113.