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Sonny Boy owner remembered

Joseph Banco

BRIDGEPORT — Joseph Banco, the longtime owner and operator of Sonny Boy restaurant in Bridgeport, died Monday. He was 77 years old.

Banco’s eatery, beloved by many in the Bridgeport area and beyond, celebrated 50 years of business in 2015. He opened the restaurant with his wife, Sherian (Riba) Banco, who survives him, on Nov. 1, 1965.

The couple had only been married for two years before deciding to take on the challenge of running their own place. Banco was no stranger to the restaurant business, however, as he began working in one when he was 12 years old.

When they purchased the restaurant decades ago, it was smaller than it is now with just a few booths and bar seating. Later they expanded the dining room. On any given morning or evening, it is not usual to drive by and see the front windows’ booths filled with hungry customers.

In addition to owning Sonny Boy, Banco was past president of Farm Fresh Inc. He was also a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wolfhurst.

In addition to his wife of 56 years, he also is survived by his son, Joseph (Paula) Banco Jr. of Mercer, Pennsylvania, three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a nephew.

Upon learning of his passing, many people took to social media to express their condolences to Banco’s family.

“The valley has taken a huge loss. My boss, role model and close friend Joseph Banco passed away today,” Sonny Boy employee Brandon Wilson wrote on Facebook.

Wilson said Thursday night that Banco was more than just a boss.

“The first day I met Mr. Banco, he became my role model. Just the way he carried himself, even when no one was looking. When he set a goal, he made sure he achieved it. That’s rare in humans nowadays.

“The passing of Mr. Banco took a toll on thousands here in the Ohio Valley. I’m truly blessed to be able to say I was part of his journey,” said Wilson, a Wolfhurst resident.

Private visitation and Mass were held at St. Joseph Catholic Church with arrangement made by Wilson Funeral Home. Memorial contributions in Banco’s name can be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 68210 Neola Ave., Bridgeport, OH 43912.

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