Anthony S. D'Anna, a retired Mars Super Markets Inc. executive and World War II veteran, died Wednesday of complications from a stroke at Symphony Manor assisted-living facility in Roland Park.
The longtime Timonium resident was 85.
The son of an Italian immigrant and a homemaker, Anthony Settimo D'Anna was born in Baltimore and raised on Mulberry Street.
After graduating from Calvert Hall College High School in 1944, Mr. D'Anna enlisted in the Army and served in Europe with the 63rd Infantry Division. He attained the rank of private, and his decorations included a Bronze Star for exemplary military service.
In 1943, Mr. D'Anna's brother, Joseph D' Anna, established the first Mars supermarket on Old Eastern Avenue in Essex. The store was named for the Mars flying boat, which was built during World War II at the nearby Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.
Joseph D'Anna opened a second store in 1945 in the 200 block of Eastern Ave. and were joined by two other brothers, Carmen D'Anna and Angelo D'Anna.
They closed the two Essex stores and opened another supermarket in Dundalk in 1946. Joseph D'Anna sold his interest in the business to his two brothers.
Anthony S. D'Anna, who was the youngest of the seven brothers, went to work as a grocery and produce clerk for his brothers in 1949. He was elected to the board in 1953 and was made a partner two years later.
He rose to store manager, and in 1963 moved to the store's executive offices on Holabird Avenue, where he rose to vice president and secretary.
Mr. D'Anna was known throughout his career for cultivating positive and successful relationships with employees, salespeople and customers.
At his 1997 retirement, he was the company's chief purchasing agent.
In addition to its Baltimore County store, Mars now operates 16 supermarkets in Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties, with 1,700 employees. The company is still family-owned.
"Tony was the last of the D'Anna family who helped make Mars supermarkets one of the largest regional supermarkets in the area," said Tom Toporovich, former secretary to the Baltimore County Council and a Dundalk civic activist.
"If the police called Tony and told him there was a family in need, it wasn't unusual for him or other D'Anna family members to unlock the store and fill up carts of food, which the police delivered," said Mr. Toporovich, a friend of more than 50 years.
"They also contributed to a variety of charitable events in the community, and if they heard that a Boy Scout had achieved Eagle status, they'd send over a $25 gift certificate," said Mr. Toporovich. "They were a major contributor to the Dundalk Heritage Fair, parade and fireworks."
Mr. D'Anna's philanthropic interests included Loyola High School, St. Joseph Medical Center, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, and numerous other community organizations.
Mr. Toporovich recalled his friend as a "sharp dresser" who was friendly and outgoing.
His son, Gino A. D'Anna, who lives in Timonium, said, "He was not only meticulous in dress but also paid attention to detail and to the very last can of tomatoes on a shelf."
Mr. D'Anna's musical tastes ranged from classical to popular music, with Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra among his favorite singers. He also enjoyed painting landscapes and still lifes in oils.
He enjoyed dining at the Prime Rib, Vito's Cafe, Sabatino's, Tio Pepe and the now-closed Boccaccio's in Little Italy.
Mr. D'Anna was a communicant and usher at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore and Ware avenues in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In addition to his son, Mr. D'Anna is survived by a sister, Concetta T. D'Anna of Dundalk; and four grandchildren. His marriage ended in divorce.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun