Obituary: Leo J. Del Rossa Sr.
It’s always difficult saying goodbye to someone we love and cherish. Leo J. Del Rossa Sr., of Dresden, passed away peacefully at the age of 99 on Friday, September 25, 2020 surrounded by his loving children and longtime companion, Edna, at the home he built 75 years ago.
His family, friends, and relationships with co-workers were the most important aspects of his life and what he valued most. He was truly a kind human being that lived by the values he taught. He taught his family the value of hard work, honesty, and sincerity. Few did it better.
Leo was born to Italian immigrants Achile and Almerinta Delrosso. He learned the value of hard work growing up and working on their family farm on Anthony Road in Dresden. He graduated from Penn Yan Academy in June of 1940. Shortly thereafter, he married Rose Iva Ribble of Penn Yan who blessed him with 10 children and 50 years of marriage.
When World War II began, he enlisted and he served in the Army Air Corps. He excelled in training and although he passed the pilot exam, he went to school and trained and became a Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner for the B17 because he learned they were in short supply. He was proud to be part of the crew aboard the “YoYo King,” flying notoriously dangerous missions over German-occupied France with “The Eighth Air Force” while being stationed at an Airforce base in England. During one of those many missions, his plane was shot down. Luckily their landing gear didn’t sustain damage and they were able to land in a field. After fighting off the German soldiers that followed their landing plane, they headed out on foot. They eventually found a French farmer who reluctantly allowed them to sleep in hay bales in his field that night. Leo prayed to God that if he kept him safe, he would never miss a day of mass. Early the following morning they set out, and in the afternoon met back up with American troops.
After the war he came home to join his wife and meet his son who was 2 years old. He began building his home from lumber salvaged from a church. Leo, with the help of friends and family, built that house for his growing family. He found work as a heavy equipment operator joining a construction crew to build the Army base Fort Drum. He later pursued his passion as an automobile mechanic at Doyle’s and Tyman Ford in Geneva. He then went on to rent a garage on Route 14 in Dresden from Bernard Volland Sr. and began his career as a phenomenal, generous, and caring businessman. In 1951, a fire forced him to leave his leased building. He purchased land up the road and built his own building and opened up his new business, Del Rossa Ford Tractor & Implements. He sold and repaired new and used tractors and used vehicles. In 1974, he expanded the business and opened a tractor service garage in Hammondsport to try to better serve his farm customers from that area. In 1976, at the age of 55 he followed his dream to own a Ford vehicle franchise and opened Del Rossa Ford Inc. in Lyons. He later sold the tractor and implements business and opened a Mercury vehicle franchise at that location.
Leo was honored for 50 years as a Ford Dealer in a special commendation by Ford Motor Company. He was also recognized and awarded many other honors during his 50 years of servicing the communities he loved. He truly loved his business and cared for both his employees and customers. His employees would go above and beyond for him because of the respect they had for him and customers would drive across the country to buy vehicles and deal with him because they trusted him.
Twenty-six years ago, he began a very special relationship with his companion, Edna Reiners. Together, they enjoyed many happy times dancing with friends and taking his classic truck and car to many surrounding car shows and enjoyed time spent traveling, not only in the U.S. but to England and to his parent’s home town of Pacina, Italy, located east of Rome.
He was always there for his huge family, and he knew everything that was going on with everyone. In God’s communion of saints, Leo is joining his wife of 50 years, Rose Iva Del Rossa; his son, Leo J. Del Rossa Jr.; brother, Anthony Del Rossa; and sisters, Brendina Stevens, Rosina Hines, Alberta Nelson, and Carolyn Delrossa. He is survived by his children, Alan (Joyce) Del Rossa, Elizabeth (Gerald) Masters, Erwin “Rocky” (Virginia Robinson) Del Rossa, Michele (Eric) Sheldon, Dale Del Rossa-Wood, Jeffrey (Mary) Del Rossa, Myra (Rick) Adsitt, Marcia (Timothy) Gunkler, and Michael (Braedy) DelRossa; in addition to his 23 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Masks are asked to be worn in keeping with CDC recommendations as the family receives visitors for calling hours from 2 -6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9 at Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery, located at 511 Hansen Point Road, Penn Yan. Due to COVID restrictions, the family has chosen to have a private funeral service and burial held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 at Saint Michael’s Church in Penn Yan. The service can be viewed live online for others by logging onto www.facebook.com/ourladyofthelakescc.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Leo J. Del Rossa Jr. scholarship fund at Penn Yan Academy, to St. Michael’s Church, or to Ontario/Yates Hospice.
A celebration of Leo’s life will be scheduled in 2021.