Daniel A. “Danny” Granzella, 91, also known as Papa, of Salida, died April 26, 2018, at his home, surrounded by his family.
He was born April 14, 1927, at home in Salida to Sylvester and Martha Granzella. He grew up on a farm, the second of five children.
He attended St. Joseph Elementary School and graduated from Salida High School in 1945.
When World War II broke out he wanted to enlist, but his parents refused to allow that because his uncle, Cyril Coster, had been killed in the war.
After graduation he was drafted by the Army.
When his uncle’s body was returned to the U.S., Mr. Granzella was allowed to return home for the funeral. Gasoline was rationed at that time, and family members helped him with gas stamps to get back to his base in Fort Sill, Okla.
He was honorably discharged at the end of the war.
He married the former Katherine Spino on Aug. 8, 1948. This year they would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
He was best known for his work with automobiles and for his contributions to the community over the decades.
He began working with cars in 1942 while he was still in high school. Later he owned and operated Salida Motors from 1969 until 2002, when he retired.
He began his career with a summer job at Y&R Auto Co., owned by Viva Young and a man whose last name was Roar. He and Dick Martin bought the business in 1965 and changed the name to Salida Motors.
Salida Motors moved from its downtown location to U.S. 50 in 1976. In 1978 they sold the dealership and it became Salida Ford, but Mr. Granzella and partner Dick Martin ended up getting it back when the new owner became ill. Once again, the name became Salida Motors.
In 1982 sons Rusty, Rocky and Dave joined him in the family business. The business was sold to Town & Country in 2002.
Over the years he and his wife contributed to countless civic and community organizations. When he was named Man of the Year for 1999, Ken Brandon introduced him as “an invisible pillar of the community – a behind-the-scenes kind of a guy” who at that time supported 35 clubs and organizations and remained committed to his family, especially his 17 grandchildren, his church and community.
Among the contributions he and Mrs. Granzella made were the scoreboard and lights for the revamped Marvin Park baseball fields and contributions toward lights on the football field and the addition to the old Salida Hospital (now the Touber Building).
He was a member of Salida Elks Lodge for 41 years, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Order of the Sons of Italy and St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Among the organizations and causes he supported were Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, TLC, Spartan Booster Club, many other youth organizations and 4-H fairs in Chaffee and several surrounding counties.
He was an avid hunter and was especially supportive of the Salida schools athletic programs and auto shop program. In addition to donating cars for students to work on, he allowed the use of his facility and specialized tools to train the students.
He was preceded in death by his parents; uncle, Cyril Coster; sons Danny Joe and Danny Ralph; a brother Ralph who died at birth; and sisters, Olga Biundo and Zita Milder.
Survivors include his wife; daughters, Didi (Roger) Oldemeyer and Melodie Granzella; sons Rusty (Tangie) Granzella, David (Gail) Granzella and Rocky (Lisa) Granzella; grandchildren, Eric Walker (Monica Quintana), Amanda (Matt) Mercado, Talli (Chris) McKittric, Gino Grasso, Fabio Grasso, Rosie (Tyler) Baecker, Heather Granzella (Patrick McGinnis), Dakota Granzella, Dillon Granzella, Martina (Richie) Cahill, Mariah Granzella, Mackenzie Granzella (Clinton Doran), Nico Granzella, Megan (Bob) Garfio and Jamie Granzella; 14 great-grandchildren; and brothers, Ralph (Esther) Granzella and Cyril (Sharon) Granzella.
His memorial services will be at 11 a.m. May 2, 2018, at St. Joseph Catholic Church with interment to follow in Fairview Cemetery.
Because Mr. Granzella was such a devoted working man and sports fan, his family has asked that folks not “dress up” for his services but come wearing Spartan gear, jackets or hats from Salida Motors, or just ordinary working clothes for whatever job they do day to day.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made through Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home to the Daniel A. Granzella Memorial Scholarship Fund for vocational students at Salida High School.
Arrangements are with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home in Salida.
Online condolences may be offered at lewisandglenn.com.