Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 16 December 2011 00:00
If you frequent Mineola, you have probably seen him at Village Hall, the Hampton Street Stadium, the community pool, 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 is his playground.
John S. DaVanzo, a lifelong Mineola resident, celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday, Dec. 9. He was honored at Village Hall last Wednesday, Dec. 7, with a cake and celebration following the board of trustees public meeting.
DaVanzo thanked God for the years he’s had and cherishes every one of them.
“I was blessed with a great family, a long and great life and have had a great place to live,” he said with a tear in his eye. “I appreciate this gesture and I was totally surprised.”
DaVanzo graduated 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 the ship to prevent the enemy from gathering information from the ship,” he said.
The ship sank on June 9, 1944.
DaVanzo has served as a village trustee twice in 1955 and 1965, deputy mayor for five years from 1955-1960, North Hempstead town councilman from 1965-1974 and town clerk from 1974-1991. He is a 58-year member of the Mineola Fire Department and served as first and second lieutenant, captain, warden and trustee.
DaVanzo was very instrumental in getting the Mineola Pool off the ground over 50 years ago. Hence why his name graces the pool.
The pool first opened in 1961.
He was honored as New York State’s Clerk of the Year in 1986. Furthermore, 7th senate district Senator Jack Martins recently inducted him into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame.
DaVanzo received a certificate naming him to the Senate Veterans Hall of Fame during a ceremony in the State Legislative Office Building this past year. In addition, a poster containing his photo and biography hangs along with those of the other honorees in the lobby of the State Legislative Office Building.