Obituary: Soccorso Pierino “Peter” Cilio
Clint Engel -- Casual Living, January 5, 2009
Peter Cilio, a renowned entrepreneur, artist and iconic fixture of the gardening industry, died December 16th at his home in Blue Bell, Pa., after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 78.
Cilio founded Peter’s Home and Garden Center in Quakertown, Pa., in the early 70s. The store pioneered the importing of Italian terra cotta to the states after its founder, born in Ponte Romito, Italy, saw there was no resource for the handmade terra cotta pottery his garden so craved.
After 11 years of supplying garden accessories through retail, the demand for the handmade terra cotta pots from southern Italy began to reach far beyond the local region. Peter and his son Anthony decided to venture into wholesale. To build the line, Peter’s created a variety of cast stone products with original and authentic hand-applied patinas. In 1988, Cilio’s son Joseph joined the company full time, and over the next decade, the trio slowly and steadily developed a company that stood for quality products, top-notch customer service and a unique mix of cast stone items with Mr. Cilio’s hand applied patinas. The small wholesaler began to evolve into a full design and production company, known as Campania Imports. His family slowly began to surround him, and in the late 90s, his daughter Nina Cilio Reelick and oldest son Peter C. Cilio joined the company to help continue to guide its growth.
Cilio retired from his wholesale business in 2000 when he sold Campania International to a Philadelphia company that continues to operate the business today. At the same time, at the age of 70, Cilio returned full time to focus his energies on his retail store. Until last year, Cilio continued at his intense pace, seven days a week, to develop his specialty retail store with European style garden accents, plants, casual furniture and much more. The retail division of Peter’s continues to be operated by the Cilio family today and remains a staple of the Philadelphia garden community.
Cilio’s legacy continues even now through his family. All four of his children remain closely tied to gardening industry. Peter is a vice president at Campania International; Anthony Cilio is vice president of product development at Alfresco Home; Joseph Cilio is founder of Alfresco Home; and Nina Cilio Reelick is married to Eugene Reelick, owner of Hollandia Nurseries. Peter is also survived by seven grandchildren.
The Cilio family would like to thank everyone in the closely knit and caring garden and casual industries who were such an important part of Cilio’s life. Customers, vendors, friends and lunch guests – everyone was welcome at Peter’s table and in his garden.