Anthony DeManno

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Anthony Joseph DeManno (nee DiManno), age 97, died on April 1, 2020, at Seasons Hospice at Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, FL from complications of COVID-19.

Born in Detroit, MI, on March 1, 1923, Anthony was the youngest of five children born to Fred and Freda (Leo) DiManno. After graduation from Cooley High School in Detroit, he worked for 18 months as an apprentice tool and die maker at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Dearborn. With part of his earnings, he bought a red 1940 Chrysler convertible, which made him "popular with the ladies." His social life notwithstanding, even before the United States entered World War II he felt called to serve. In 1941 he had to ask for his father's approval to join the Merchant Marines. Because of the high number of Merchant ships being sunk by German U-boats in the Atlantic, his father refused. A few months later, Anthony asked again, and his father relented, this time signing the papers allowing his youngest child to volunteer for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942. Years later, Anthony would admit he had no idea what lay ahead for him.

As a corporal in the 1st Marine Division, he saw combat across the Pacific Theater including on Guadalcanal, Saipan, the Mariana and Palau Islands, Guam and Okinawa. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received as a result of enemy action in May 1945 and was evacuated to the naval hospital in Oakland, CA.

While enjoying a day pass from the hospital he met Margaret McKay, a native of Texas working as a bookkeeper for the War Department. Following his honorable discharge, Anthony and Margaret married in Oakland in 1946 and soon moved to Detroit. Their marriage was a stormy one and ended in divorce in 1971. Nevertheless, Anthony was so proud of their two daughters Antoinette and Deborah and they loved him in return, taking special pains to help him later in his life as Alzheimer's Disease necessitated his move to a step-up care residence.

For over 25 years Anthony supported his family by driving trucks for Darin & Armstrong General Contractors. He would proudly point to many of the commercial buildings springing up in 1960s Detroit and suburbs saying, "we built that." He was a member of the Teamsters and took pride in his safe driving awards from the union.

A key thread running through Anthony's life was an interest in and love for food. As a boy he learned to cook by watching his mother making handmade pasta and sauce for Sundays. Those kitchen skills came in handy when his Marine company in the Pacific Islands need to replace an assistant cook — he volunteered because he hated K-rations and figured that if he was the cook, he knew he would be eating better food.

Helped by a loan from his father, Anthony fulfilled a life-long dream of entrepreneurship when he bought the Mercury Dairy Cup on Schaefer Highway near Six Mile Rd in NW Detroit in 1960. The soft-serve ice cream spot became a second home, with all family members working at the Dairy at one time or another. After working all day driving a truck, he would man the Dairy at night and on weekends. With two elementary schools in walking distance, the Dairy was a popular after-school stop for children. On the last day of the season each year in late September, he gave away ice cream cones after school until the soft-serve mix ran out. This event drew large crowds. A Detroit police officer had to keep ice cream fans from spilling out onto the busy street. Anthony negotiated a deal trading free milkshakes for the manager and employees of the Mercury Movie Theater across the street for free movie admissions for his family. He also made sure to bring quarts of ice cream and toppings to the Sisters in the Convent at Precious Blood Church.

In fact, Anthony just enjoyed bringing food to people and bringing people together with food. He liked to surprise the family with a big bag of fresh bagels on Sunday mornings or whipping up fried baloney sandwiches for Saturday lunches. On summer evenings after closing the Dairy, a late night run to Lafayette Coney Island for a bag filled with heartburn-inducing chili dogs with onions would be the impetus to gather with his nephew Jimmy and friends.

In retirement, Anthony discovered a love of baking. He found his true baking life mission after Antoinette gave him some homemade biscotti and then his own biscotti recipe book. Soon followed numerous phone calls or trips to grocery stores when both daughters in turn explained where to find ingredients and how to level-measure flour or dice up dried fruit. He baked his cookies and gave them away to friends, a few to a sandwich bag. He didn't want to spoil people by giving them too many biscotti. And the cookies came with his always charming smile.

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Antoinette and Deborah could not be with their father during his short hospitalization and at the time of his death. His daughters are deeply grateful for the compassionate care provided to their father by Leyaini Cabezas MD, hospitalist, and all the nurses, other doctors, and staff of Memorial Regional Hospital and Seasons Hospice. Antoinette and Deborah are also grateful for the caring assistance provided by Stephanie Swerdlow, LCSW, CMC who was their Elder Care Manager for the last four years.

Anthony is survived by his daughters, three granddaughters, four great-grandsons, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings Alex, Angelina (Primo), John, and Vera (Dickie) and his ex-wife Margaret.

In accordance with his wishes, Anthony's body was cremated. Interment will be at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery, Southfield, MI when it is safe to travel. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Alzheimer's Association at www.alz.org or by mail to Alzheimer's Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601.