Robert J. Balestieri

  • Born: March 9, 1952
  • Died: March 21, 2020
  • Location: Melrose, Massachusetts

Gately Funeral Home

79 West Foster Street
Melrose, MA 02176

Tel. (781) 665-1949

Tribute & Message From The Family

Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Robert by adding your memories.

Robert J. Balestieri passed away at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers on March 21, 2020. He was 68 years old.

Robert grew up in Melrose, graduating from Melrose High School in 1970. Upon graduation, he joined the National Guard Reserves and served for six years. Following in his father and grandfather's footsteps, he made a career as a retailer in the produce business, first in the North End with his dad, then opening his own stores: Village Fruit, Inc., in Brookline Village, Washington Square in Brookline, and in Allston. He loved being able to introduce his loyal customers to the ever-growing exotic fruits and vegetables from around the world. A kind, generous soul, he was willing to help anyone in need. He was well-liked and respected by all who knew him. Growing up he enjoyed many summers on Long Beach in Rockport with his large extended family. It continued to be a place he loved throughout his life.

A man of many passions: he loved painting, reading, photography, cooking, and was a self-taught master wood craftsman, making all kinds of furniture and beautiful pieces. One-piece he was particularly proud of that combined his love for God and woodworking, was an intricate bible stand for the local church he attended for many years. In the past few years, some weekly highlights included spending Friday nights with his cousins and close friends, meeting his aunts and mom for coffee, and tinkering in his workshop. However, nothing gave him greater pleasure than spending time with his five children of whom he was very proud, quite often showing off their photos and videos and touting their many accomplishments to friends and relatives. He was, and his family continues to be, forever indebted to his family, cousins, friends, extended family, and the incredible team of doctors and nursing staff who cared for and supported him throughout his four-year heroic battle with cancer. Through their support, he was able to live life fully until the very end.

Robert was the loving father of Alexander Balestieri of Shrewsbury, Chelsea Balestieri of Holliston, Bethany Balestieri of Maryland, Christina Balestieri and Andrew Balestieri of Holliston. Beloved son of Rose (Limone) Balestieri and her late husband Alfonso of Woburn. Cherished brother of John Balestieri of Somerville, Catherine Bourgeois and her husband James, Diane Monteiro and her husband Kenneth, of Woburn. Former husband of Amy Balestieri. Also survived by many close nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, cousins, family members and friends.

Due to the new directive from the state of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Funeral Director Association and all the current health concerns, the funeral service will be private. A memorial Mass in Robert's name will be held at a later date and an announcement will be posted when the date becomes available. Please feel free to send a card to family members, drop a card at the funeral home for the family, or send a message of condolence online by visiting

In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Robert Balestieri may be made to the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center by visiting or by check made payable to "Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center" with "Robert Balestier/Cancer Center" in the memo line. Contributions may be mailed to: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Office of Development, 330 Brookline Ave (OV), Boston, MA 02215.

Condolence & Memory Journal

Awesome friend and awesome boss. Spent 3 years, while in high school, working and learning from Robert and the entire family. Was treated like one of the family, another Balestieri working all hours of the day and night. Will be immensely missed....

Posted by Arthur Trestin - Staten Island, NY - coworker   December 06, 2021

On a whim, I just tried to call Village Fruit to wish my former boss Robert Balestieri a happy birthday as I have always remembered his birthday was 3 days after my own. I was so sorry to hear of his passing.

I worked for Robert at both Brookline locations for more than 2 years while in college in the late 70s. He was an awesome and formidable boss who ran a super tight ship but was fair and simply wonderful to work for. I kept coming back even after I began teaching. And in fact, one of my very best friends on the planet and I met both working there after classes during the week and for a long 12-hour shift Robert hired us for on Saturdays so we could make enough money to pay our bills. We remained friends and became roommates and later were maids-of-honor at each other's weddings.

I am so saddened to know he is not still with us, but to his family I would love to tell them how much he influenced this 20-22 year-old, and that all these years later, it stands out as one of the great jobs I had working my way through school and I adored working for this tough, hilarious, sharp, intelligent, multi-faceted kind man. Plus, I always loved what his North End pronunciation did with my Midwestern name, flipping the vowels from Laura Holland to Lara Hawland.

In my religion we have a saying: May his memory be for a blessing. Robert's memory is indeed my blessing and I wish his family very well.

Posted by Laura Holland - Eugene, OR - Coworker   March 09, 2021

A gentleman and a scholar. New him through the produce and loved being in his always pleasant company.
Have pictures of him at my sons bris.
He will be fondly remembered.
My most sincere condolences.
May he Rest In Peace

Posted by Alan Warner - Lynn, MA - Friend   April 10, 2020

So sorry for your loss Bethany. I am sure your dad thought of you as his Angel on Earth and now you have an Angel in Heaven looking over you all the time. I will be praying for you and your family and always remember the many happy times.

Rob and Kori Smetzer

Posted by Rob Smetzer - Clear Spring, MD - Friend   April 01, 2020

I went to grade school with Bob; a great guy way back then. We went to different high schools, but saw each other a few times after that. Still a great guy.
My sympathies to the family.2nxhr

Posted by Dan Durant - Melrose, MA - Friend   April 01, 2020

Sorry to hear of your loss. Andrew if there is anything I can do please reach out to me.

Posted by Barry Kling    March 30, 2020

To all of the Balestieri's... Thinking of you at this sad time. So sorry for your loss.

Posted by Janice Diana Burke - West Yarmouth, MA - Neighbor   March 25, 2020

My cousin Robert was always smiling. I can remember when living downstairs from Robert's family on West Highland Ave and I would go upstairs and listen to Robert playing the Trumpet. One of my fondest memories was enjoying to listen to Robert playing his Trumpet. I remember working with Robert at his dad's store (M& A Fruit) in the North End. And, whenever I would take the train to visit my mom' Robert would always give me a ride. I loved Robert.

Posted by Philip Fortunato - North Andover, MA - Family   March 25, 2020

So sorry the loss of Robert. My condolences to your whole family.

Posted by Donna Giacalone - Melrose, MA   March 25, 2020

I graduated with Bobbie. He and my brother, Tom, were good friends. In fact Bobbie is my nephew Christopher's Godfather. He was always smiling, very well dressed and a gentleman. I am sorry for your loss and I will let my family members know about his passing.
Sincerely, Carol DelCore Croce

Posted by Carol DelCore Croce - Nokomis, FL - Classmate   March 25, 2020

My heartfelt condolences to the entire Balestieri family. I have great childhood memories growing up with Robert in the Highlands. One of the kindest and high spirited people I have known. Rest in peace my friend.

Posted by George McCarthy - Melrose, MA - Classmate   March 25, 2020

i knew robert most of my life he was a talented great guy he will be missed

Posted by john manganaro - melrose, MA - Friend   March 25, 2020

So so sorry to hear of Roberts passing. Our love and condolences to Rose and the family. May he Rest In Peace.

Posted by Teresa and Nando Gentile - Boston, MA - Friend   March 24, 2020

We are so sorry to hear of Robert's passing. He and all of you are in our hearts and prayers. Love, the Slottje family

Posted by Brenda Furlong - Charlottesville, VA - Family Friend   March 24, 2020

So sorry sending prayers

Posted by Karen Tolman Skurka - Cranston, RI - Classmate   March 24, 2020


In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Robert, I really cant believe this. I love you so much and could never find a better friend.
I will miss you for the rest of my life. This is so very hard for me. Love, Anne Louise

Posted by Anne Coppola - Boston, MA - friend   March 23, 2020

We all knew him as Bobby or "Bala" back at MHS. He had a great smile and was very sociable. Great looking black hair....all the most popular girls loved the guy while we stood around tongue tied!
Nice fellow....sorry for your loss.

Posted by Chris Shea - South Weymouth, MA - Classmate   March 23, 2020

So sad to hear about Roberts struggles with cancer. We love your family so Much and keep
You all in our hearts and prayers!

Posted by The Goudreault's Goudreault - Sherborn, MA - Family Friend   March 23, 2020

I will remember our conversations and you occupying my mind when visi ting my sister. With everything you were going through it didnt stop you from supporting your cousin in his time of need. You were/are a wonderful man who walked his talk. I'm grateful to have known you. Thank you for the beautiful bread boards that I have and also gave as gifts. You will be missed.

Posted by Kathleen Garcia - Revere, MA - Friend   March 23, 2020

Over 50 years ago you couldn't help but notice Robert's smile in freshman homeroom or walking down the hall. A wonderful friend to many, he would often get together with old friends to keep in touch. An extremely talented craftsman with wood, I am so fortunate to have one of his pieces.
Years ago many days and nights were spent at Nahant halfway house and his love for the beach continued in Gloucester - rain or snowstorm didn't deter him.
Known to our friends in Melrose as Bal, the consensus would be he was a great guy.
My hopes would be for his family to know how much he loved them and that they can somehow find comfort that he is no longer suffering.
Rest In Peace Bal, you are flying high for sure and will be missed by those left behind.

Rosemary Beaudoin Kelley
Ft Lauderdale, Florida

Posted by Rosemary Beaudoin Kelley - Ft Lauderdale, FL - Friend   March 23, 2020

The Gately Family and Staff wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call on us at anytime as we are always available to you.

Posted by John W. Gately, John H. Gately & Fred Sprague - Melrose, MA   March 22, 2020

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