Mineola lost one of its pillars on Friday, March 21. John DaVanzo, a lifelong resident of Mineola, died at Winthrop University Hospital. He was 92.
If you frequent Mineola, you have probably seen him at Village Hall, the Hampton Street Stadium, the community pool (which bears his name), the Station Plaza Diner and the list goes on. He has met U.S. presidents and has been a fixture in public life for years. His footprint in Mineola has been cemented for decades, and will continue to be so for many years to come.
Mr. Mineola is his name and the village will always be his playground. DaVanzo loved Mineola, he loved the people, but most of all…he loved his family.
“I was blessed with a great family, a long and great life and have had a great place to live,” he said at his 90th birthday celebration in 2011.
DaVanzo graduated from Mineola High School in 1939 and was all-varsity in football, basketball, baseball and track. He married his high school sweetheart Pauline and attended Hofstra University, but left early because he was drafted to fight in World War II.
He served as a radioman on the USS Glennon DD-620. He served in the Navy from Sept. 21, 1943 to Jan. 7, 1946.
DaVanzo was out several days at sea when he succumbed to severe pains in his stomach. He would have his appendix removed a day later.
DaVanzo was aboard the USS Glennon when it struck a mine off the coast of Normandy two days after D-Day. John had to think fast.
“I had to destroy all information and codes before I evacuated,” he said, after being honored as a Hometown Hero by the Town of North Hempstead July 2011.
The ship sank on June 9, 1944.
DaVanzo served as captain for the Mineola Fire Department from 1953-55. He would later become a delegate to the Firemen Association of the State of New York, southern New York and the Nassau County Fireman’s Association.
DaVanzo served as a village trustee from 1955 to 1965 and 2005 to 2007, deputy mayor for five years from 1955-1960, North Hempstead town councilman from 1965-1974 and town clerk from 1974-1991.
“John lived a full life and accomplished so much,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “He will be missed dearly.”
DaVanzo was very instrumental in getting the Mineola Pool opened over 50 years ago. Hence his name graces the pool, which first opened in 1961.
“It’s going to be different at Village Hall, looking in the second row, left of center, and not seeing John,” Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira said.
DaVanzo was named the National Volunteer Firefighter of the Year in 2004.He was honored as New York State’s Clerk of the Year in 1986 and inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame in 2011.