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Granzella obit pic
On June 4th, Lawrence, Larry, Vito, Captain Granzella left this earth on the banks of the Stanislaus River, at the base of Lover’s Leap with his beloved companion and hunting dog Ike by his side. His departure was discovered by the light of a full moon.
    He was given 64 years, 8 months and 2 days here on earth. At 62 or so, he began saying, “Hey, everything after this is gravy.” The majority of us that knew and loved him are complaining, as we feel the portion of gravy he was served was definitely on the stingy side.
    Larry was a contradiction. His stature, at best, was average. There are those that might use the “short” word to describe him; yet, after his death, it was revealed that his heart was over 75% larger than the average man. He ambled more often than walked, yet he covered more ground in his 64 years than those given twenty more.
    He always took the role of Devil’s Advocate, loving a good debate, but was extraordinarily open minded, understanding and reticent to pass judgement.
    He hunted and fished, fought fires, poured cement and knew how to pack horses and mules into the high country, but started each morning with a “chi tea latte.”
    Our Larry had no children of his own, yet he was a father and grandfather. His hours and minutes on this earth were never wasted. With the eye of an artist, he landscaped his beloved home property, terracing the hillsides, planting and gardening, creating a storybook setting to share with family, friends and strangers alike. Somehow, he was always in motion, yet he himself was the calmest, safest harbor any of us will likely ever know.
    His wit carried firefighters into the beginnings of retirement, leading good natured roasts of numerous colleagues as they gathered to celebrate those years of shared service. As his good friend Andy shared, “There was nothing quite like gathering to complete a project or share a beer (or two) in Dale’s garage and listen to two masters of wit banter back and forth.” Unlike others who use their quick minds and sharp wits as swords to damage, Larry used his wit like a maestro. Whenever he appeared at a gathering of family and friends, he quickly set the tempo with lighthearted ribbing and witty comebacks.
    He could spend hours in Barnes and Nobles, browsing, but almost always relied on the library for his source of reading material. He was always interested in learning new things. Learning to trim goats’ hooves was greeted with the same enthusiasm as acquiring new kayaking techniques. However, he was just as committed to sharing his knowledge with others. Taking a young man out to pheasant hunt for the first time or a young lady who had a yearning to ride horses but little experience, or helping a young boy practice using a snorkel in shallow water as preparation for ocean diving in years to come never tried his patience.
    Lawrence, Larry, Vito, Captain Granzella was much to many. He was about connections, and he so freely shared himself with those to whom he was connected. With his cell phone at the ready, he gifted us regularly with witty texts, comments on last night’s basketball games, pictures of dogs and donkeys and goats and a multitude of beautiful sunsets.
    He was a Word Jumble man, crossword puzzle worker, doer of unspoken good deeds with a twinkle in his eyes and a mischievous smile who could also, by the way, seriously wiggle his ears.
    He delighted in the fact that his birth occurred on a U.S. Navy base in Port Lyautey, Morocco and that his mother, Helen (Merz) Granzella was a native of Switzerland and his father Nelson Granzella, 100% Italian, was a Pearl Harbor survivor. Larry cherished his childhood, growing up in his family’s little home on Rubicon Way with his brother Tom Granzella and their dog Duke. During his early years at Pope Avenue Elementary, Arcade Middle School and Mira Loma High he developed friendships that he maintained throughout life. His firefighter career began at Sacramento Metro and in 1978 he joined Modesto Fire Department, where he quickly became “Vito”. During his tenure, Vito was a Firefighter, Engineer and Captain. He proudly served two years as Union President for Local 1289 and retired in 2008. On more than one occasion he stated, “I have the best job in world.” The opportunities to serve others, the camaraderie and the strength of friendships afforded in such a profession were gifts he clearly recognized.
    Naming those that he leaves behind is an almost impossible task — there are so many of us. We are all painfully aware of what we have lost, yet so incredibly grateful for what we were given.
    A celebration of life will be held Saturday, June 27th at 5:30 pm, at the Oakdale Sportsmen’s Club. Larry would have worn a Hawaiian shirt and we believe we should follow his example. An adjacent park and outdoor area provide the opportunity to gather in a socially appropriate manor, considering current conditions. An extra lawn chair or two might be something to consider bringing to this gathering.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
June 24, 2020