Monday, May 18, 2009

RIP Pap

I had to cancel appearances this weekend due to the sudden loss of my grandfather. He was an incredible man and truly the best shining example of someone who lived the American Dream. Hard work, stamina, intelligence, and his Catholic faith (devotion to God and family) are characterizations that do not even begin to describe him.

My pap was on the front cover of the Altoona Mirror on May 16, 2009 (article pasted below).
DeGol patriarch left long legacy
“He built a business from nothing.”

By Walt Frank, wfrank@altoonamirror.com POSTED: May 16, 2009

Those who knew him said the patriarch of the DeGol family was a special man.

Bruno DeGol, who started a family business in 1950 in Gallitzin - a small concrete plant that has grown into today's DeGol Organization - died Thursday at his Tipton residence. He was 86. (See obituary, Page A9.)

"Bruno DeGol's untimely passing was a heartfelt blow to his family, friends and employees," his son Bruno Jr. said in a statement released by the family. "However, his constant tutoring of his children, grandchildren and employees about his life lessons and business philosophy has been well ingrained and will ensure that his legacy will be carried on. He was deeply loved and will be missed."

DeGol's influence went beyond his family, which included his wife, Lena; five children; 18 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

"I thought Bruno DeGol was not only a visionary, but a legendary person in the community and one of the real movers and shakers in the country," former state Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer said. "He built a business from nothing. His true legacy is his family, who continue to grow the businesses he was involved in."

David Halpern, a family friend and attorney who does legal work for the DeGol Organization, called DeGol a "wise man."

"I talked with him about issues in the economic world. He had an understanding that went beyond his education. He had a talent for knowing what was real, rather than perceived," Halpern said.

Public accountant Dick Burgan of Gallitzin, who has done work for the family for nearly 50 years, called Bruno a unique man.

"You could go to lunch at Wendy's with him and have a hamburger and you would never know whether he had $10 or $10 million," Burgan said. "He never flaunted what he had."

G. William Ward and Ray Ponchione said DeGol was a special guy.

"He was a very generous man. He was a down-to-earth man, one of the people who wouldn't sit in an ivory tower," said Ward, chairman of the board of Ward Trucking.

"He was a wonderful guy, a common man with a very uncommon vision," said Ponchione, vice president for advancement at St. Francis University.

The DeGol family has had a long relationship with St. Francis. DeGol and his family contributed to many projects, most notably the DeGol Arena and DeGol Field on the Loretto campus.

"Bruno DeGol Sr.'s legacy will be his tremendous desire to help the young people of our area grow, not only academically and physically, but also spiritually," said the Rev. Gabriel Zeis, SFU president. "Bruno had a tremendous vision for what St. Francis University could offer, and through his generosity and commitment to vision, he succeeded in accomplishing his dreams and goals."

Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today and Sunday at Gibbons Funeral Home, 301 Church St., Gallitzin.



Pap's Obituary:

Sept. 30, 1922 - May 14, 2009

Bruno DeGol, 86, of Tyrone, formerly of Gallitzin, died May 14, 2009, at Tyrone Hospital.

He was born in Glen White, son of the late Anthony and Josephina (Balest) DeGol. He was preceded in death by brothers: Candido and Victor; and sisters: Mary Taddei and Dora Fabbri.

He is survived by his wife, Lena (Toffy), whom he married Feb. 27, 1946; five children: Donald and wife, Karen (Simmons), David and fiance, Renee Noel, Gloria Burgan and husband, Terry, Dennis and wife, Holley (Benton), and Bruno Jr. and wife, Polly Jo (Elder); 18 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and brothers: Leo, Silvio, Leno, Raymond, James and John.

He served in the Army 102nd Infantry Division in World War II, participated in the D-Day Invasion and was awarded the Bronze Star and numerous campaign medals.

In 1950, he founded DeGol Brothers, a concrete block manufacturing company with his brother Victor. In 1958, he renamed the company DeGol Brothers Lumber as he expanded into the building materials business; in later years adding four other locations in Blair and Cambria counties. In 1972, he started Seven D Wholesale with sons Donald and Dennis and has since added four other locations: Scranton, Newmanstown, Hartford, Conn., and Deerfield Beach, Fla.

In 1975, he and his son David opened DeGol Carpet with locations in Duncansville and Tyrone. In 1982, the company acquired Scotch Valley Country Club, Hollidaysburg. He continued diversifying the business further with son Bruno Jr. by forming Seven D Industries in 1990, a truss and window manufacturer.

Mr. DeGol had served on the Board of Directors for the Laurel Bank, Gallitzin Savings and Loan, C&G Savings Bank and the B.T. Financial Corp. He also served on the Gallitzin Borough Council and the board of trustees and the President's Cabinet at St. Francis University. He was a member of St. Joseph's Church, Bellwood.

He was a former member of the Gallitzin VFW, American Legion, Knights of Columbus Council and Gallitzin Lions Club where he served as president. In later years, his philanthropic interests lead to the establishment of the Bruno & Lena DeGol Family Foundation, focusing on local charitable organizations in Cambria and Blair counties.

His most significant donations were made to St. Francis University for the DeGol Arena and the DeGol Field, the Northern Blair Country Recreation Center, as well as Easter Seals. He was awarded many honors through the years with the most notable being the doctorate of humane letters and the Bel Cuore Award from St. Francis University, the Ernst & Young Western Pennsylvania Master Entrepreneur Award and the American Rescue Workers Distinguished National Humanitarian Award.

His business was inducted into the Blair County Business Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Hall of Fame. He loved spending time with his family and friends, graciously sharing his life experiences, insight and business acumen. He also enjoyed the outdoors, being an avid hunter and gardener.

Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today, May 16, 2009, and Sunday, May 17, 2009, at Gibbons Funeral Home, 301 Church St., Gallitzin. A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. Monday at St. Demetrius Church, Gallitzin, Monsignor Michael Servinsky, the Rev. Albert Ledoux and Monsignor Arnold Gaus, celebrants.

Contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to the Bruno and Lena DeGol Family Foundation, 3229 Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona, PA 16602. Gallitzin American Legion and other local military organizations will conduct military rites.