Cheesesteak lovers across the Delaware Valley are mourning the death of Joey Vento, the founder of South Philadelphia's Geno's Steaks.
That grief is felt as strongly by many in Gloucester Township as it is by residents of the City of Brotherly Love.
Vento, who made a habit of supporting police departments in times of need, died Tuesday when he sustained a heart attack at his home in Shamong, Burlington County. He was 71.
Vento won the hearts of the township's men and women in blue this past winter when he made a $30,000 donation to the K-9 Schultz Memorial Fund.
"Joey Vento was a man who greatly respected the law-enforcement profession. He unselfishly offered his support to many police agencies, including the Gloucester Township Police Department," Police Chief W. Harry Earle said on Wednesday. "We were very thankful for the generous support from Mr. Vento."
Vento's generosity was not lost on township officials and residents, either.
"Joey Vento was very generous to our Gloucester Township community as we faced the tragic death of K-9 Schultz. His generosity helped improve public safety and expand our K-9 unit," Mayor David Mayer said. "I want to express our sincerest sympathies to the Vento family on behalf of all the residents of Gloucester Township."
In late June, Vento welcomed township police and officials to his South Philadelphia cheesesteak joint to make K-9 Schultz the first police animal inducted into the Geno's Steak "Path of Honor," a memorial for police officers killed in the line of duty.
"I am certain the many survivors of fallen police officers will always remember Mr. Vento and be thankful for his honor of officers killed in the line of duty by memorializing them, including K-9 Schultz, at his Geno’s Steaks Restaurant in Philadelphia," Earle said.
A viewing for Vento will be held 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Carto Funeral Home, 2212 S. Broad St, Philadelphia, with a funeral mass to follow at Annunciation B.V.M. Church, 1511 S. 10th St.