Two Mineola Giants

Lou Sanders
Lou Sanders

The first person I ever met from the village when I became the Mineola American editor was Lou Sanders on Monday, April 12, 2010. Two days later, I met the second person in John DaVanzo.

Lou, the founder of this paper, and John are testaments to hard work, dedication and kindness. That’s why when I was approached to help write the plaques that adorn the new John S. DaVanzo Wall of Honor, I was more than honored to take up the task.

It was quite fitting to meet the founder of the publication almost immediately.

His beard is unmistakable with his voice unique and bold, Lou is essentially, the reason I have a job.

His first words to me were “you have big shoes to fill. Cover the community and you’ll do fine.” He of course, was talking about Joe Rizza, a man who ran the paper for a decade.

I still get called “Joe” by people to this day. Steve Ford of Willis Hobbies did it last week. We both chuckled.

John DaVanzo
John DaVanzo

That Wednesday, (April 14, 2010) I was still getting my feet under me when Lou, an Anton Media Group account executive at the time, asked “are you going to the village tonight?” I was confused, but he clarified saying“the Mineola Village Board meeting.”

When I said yes, he leaned in and said “things happen here. It’ll be fun.” He wasn’t kidding, because more than five years later, things are still happening.

Lou was and still is always there when I have questions about Mineola. I can’t tell you how many leads on stories I procured from Lou. I still get stories from him via phone-calls and wait for his signature column, “Around Town With Lou,” to hit my inbox.

His mark will always be felt in this paper and I’m honored to know and learn from him.

That Wednesday night in 2010, I walked in to Village Hall and noticed John.

Sitting second row, on the far right, I introduced myself to John and he replied “so you’re the new Joe Rizza.” I laughed and bantered with him. But little did I know who I was talking to. I was talking to a future friend.

What started off as a quick chat, turned into lunches, almost weekly. He loved the New York Mets. Maybe John has something to do with their historic run to the World Series.

He cherished events like the Summer Concert Series in Memorial Park and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. But most of all, he loved where he lived. He loved Mineola.

John was always there, even after his passing in March 2014.

I find myself still looking for his desk at the front of Village Hall when I walk in for meetings. I still have a hard time walking into Nick’s at Station Plaza and not seeing his smile and grin over a burger and iced tea.

Had my time in Mineola ended on that Thursday in 2010 and were I only meet two people, Lou and John were the perfect representatives to send me off.

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