Pine Plains remembers 'Tony' Grassi fondly
PINE PLAINS â€” The town of Pine Plains is somewhat less vibrant, less complete than it has been for the past 84 years. On Monday, April 27, Abondio â€œTonyâ€ Grassi died due to heart failure. It was an inevitable fact of life that left many feeling the loss.
Grassi was born in Pine Plains in 1924. He married Florence â€œSissyâ€ Pulver on Jan. 5, 1948. He was the superintendent of highways in Gallatin for 20 years. He volunteered in Pine Plains in many capacities, including as a volunteer fireman, Town Board member, Planning Board member and as town justice for 24 years. He also belonged to the Pine Plains Sportsman Club and the Shacameco American Legion Post as well as the VFW Post No. 426. In addition to Sissy, daughter Marjean Cahill and her husband Edward, he is survived by another daughter, Patricia Grassi, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, a niece and nephews.
Marjean, said she and her family are staying close, remembering all of the things about their familyâ€™s patriarch they love so well.
â€œFamily meant everything to him,â€ she said. â€œAnd he treated everybody as if they were special to him. You felt special.
â€œProbably anybody in Pine Plains could tell you a good story about him,â€ Cahill continued. â€œSome might be good and some might be bad, but they would all be entertaining.â€
That would be a more-than-appropriate way to remember Grassi, who had a penchant for sharing stories of his own. That was one of the things Pine Plains court clerk Maryanne Lennon said she will always remember about the former town justice.
â€œHe told a lot of stories from way back when and I think that everyone will be missing all of the history and the knowledge he had about the town, because it was all in his head because he never put it in writing,â€ she said. â€œI always thought as he was telling these stories that I should be there with a recorder. He knew a lot about the railroad coming and going. He just had a lot of history and weâ€™re going to miss not knowing all the knowledge that he had. He would sit there in his judgeâ€™s chambers telling these stories â€” it was just marvelous to listen to them.â€
His daughter said she had similar memories.
â€œHe was born in Pine Plains and he was very fond of the town and the people,â€ she said. â€œAnd he would tell great stories of the old-timers. He was a great story teller. He was here all his life. Itâ€™s different now. You still know people, but itâ€™s not like it used to be, itâ€™s changed. There are different faces now. A lot of the old-timers are going. Itâ€™s different but we still love it.â€
â€œI think he exemplified what small-town life is all about,â€ town Supervisor Gregg Pulver said. â€œHe lived here and he worked in the area, he supported the community and I think people like him are hard to find anymore. The trend is that people move how many times in life? Two, three times. Hereâ€™s a guy who put down roots here a long time ago.â€
â€œI canâ€™t say enough about him. He really is a good man; his whole family is good,â€ said Town Justice Louis Imperato. â€œHeâ€™s a wonderful guy and would really do anything for anybody. Iâ€™ve still got his picture in my office and Iâ€™m going to keep it there. We miss him and weâ€™ll always think about him.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to miss him terribly, terribly,â€ Lennon said. â€œHe cared about me. I cried a lot when I heard the news. Iâ€™m so sorry to see him gone. I feel he deserved another five to 10 more years. In my mind he was very healthy. He worked in his garden and was very active. He was very gentle. He loved his cats and cared for the animals very well. He was just a loving person.â€
â€œHe was a great animal lover,â€ recalled Cahill. â€œIf he didnâ€™t recognize a cat in his neighborhood, calls went out all around to find out who it belonged to. If somebody got a call from my father, it was probably about a cat, who it belonged to or to find it a home. He was very funny that way. There are just so many memories.
â€œMy father was a guy who had a smile for everybody. When he was driving through town he was always looking for people to wave to, he was just a friendly guy,â€ she added. â€œHe loved the town and wanted to contribute. He really, truly wanted to make it a better place while keeping it how it was. He loved his town, his home, his garden and all the things he could still do. At 84 years old, he was very proud of that.â€
Memorial donations may be sent to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, 125 Humane Society Road, Hudson, NY 12534; the Shacameco American Legion, Pine Plains, NY 12567; or the Pine Plains Rescue Squad, PO Box 100, Pine Plains, NY 12567.