The Union Democrat

Lifelong Sonoran and longtime Tuolumne County rancher John Joseph "Jack" Gardella died Saturday at a Sonora hospital. He was 89.

Mr. Gardella was born on April 16, 1918 at the Sonora Hospital on Washington Street.

He was the second generation of his Italian family to live in the county. He grew up in the Sanguinetti family home, where today's Crossroads shopping center sits. He attended elementary school in Standard, brought there daily by a friend of his aunt's who taught at the school and who promised he would get a good education. He graduated from Sonora High School in 1936.

Mr. Gardella was an only child and while growing up he was heavily influenced by his uncles, John and Joe Sanguinetti.

"He was a great guy and a good rancher," said Casey Bonavia, a fellow second-generation Italian and lifelong friend.

Bonavia remembers Mr. Gardella helping his uncle, Joe Sanguinetti, gather cows. A father figure to him, Joe Sanguinetti helped the young Gardella get started in the cattle business.

Family was important to Mr. Gardella. His daughter, Linda Cassinetto, said he would probably consider his 67-year marriage to Gloria Gardella and his family two of his greatest accomplishments .

His daughter-in-law, Tricia Gardella, said that he loved that his son, Jack Jr., and his grandson, John Joseph III, and that both have followed in his footsteps to become cattlemen.

Before becoming a rancher, Mr. Gardella worked in a garden belonging to his mother, Amelia Sanguinetti Gardella, and his uncle John Sanguinetti. At the time, the Sanguinetti home was a ways out of town, and by delivering vegetables Jack Gardella was able to meet people.

But delivering vegetables was not how he met the woman who would become his wife.

While in the hospital having his tonsils taken out, he was introduced to Gloria Lamb by a mutual friend. As soon as Mr. Gardella left the hospital, he took off for the mountains to tend cattle on his family's summer pasture. When he returned, he asked Gloria on a date.

After a year and a half together, Mr. Gardella proposed and the two were married on Aug. 3, 1940.

During the first few years of their marriage, the Gardellas continued to work on his uncle's vegetable truck.

Mr. Gardella looked forward to the day his cattle were old enough and he could put the gardening work behind him. That day finally came: By 1946, the Gardellas were full-time ranchers and parents to three children.

They raised their family in a house they built across from the Sanguinetti home. Tuolumne County ambulances are now garaged where their house once stood.

"He helped a lot of young people get involved in the cattle business," said Punny Dambacher, a childhood friend of Mr. Gardella's who described him as "well-respected" and "always there to help people."

"He was just a good, fine, honest man," Dambacher said.

Mr. Gardella recognized the need for growth in the community, his family said.

He liked seeing things develop and grow, and sold the land that now houses the Crossroads shopping center.

He was involved in the Quarterback Club, Knights of Columbus and, in December 1974, joined Figlia d'Italia when it was first formed.

The Gardellas loved to travel and toured Europe, South America and Australia and were able to instill that love in their grandchildren. They took each of their grandchildren on a trip abroad after graduation from grammar school.

"That is very remarkable for people who started out their married life wondering if they could afford a $15-a-month house payment," said Linda Cassinetto.

Mr. Gardella was preceded in death in 1979 by his mother, Amelia Sanguinetti Gardella; in 2003 by his son, David Earl Gardella; in 1970 by his granddaughter, Gina Marie Gardella; and by his grandson David Earl Gardella Jr.

Mr. Gardella is survived by his wife of 67 years, Gloria Lamb Gardella; children and their spouses Jack Jr. and Tricia Gardella of Jamestown, Linda and Ben Cassinetto of Knights Ferry; grandchildren and their spouses Michelle and Brad Keefe, Jodi and Craig Richey, John and Sarah Gardella, all of Jamestown, Monica Gardella and her fiance Lou Frere of Sierra Vista, Ariz., Stephen M. Dietrich III of Scotland and Beth Dietrich of Sonora, Chris Gardella of Glendora, Los Angeles County; great-grandchildren Jimmy and Joe Keefe, C.J., Garrett and Riley Richey, Jack IV and Angela Gardella, all of Jamestown, Zack DeGrood of England and Maggie and Katie Gardella of Glendora; nieces and nephews and their spouses Marion and Lorna Sanguinetti, Henry D. and Bev Sanguinetti, Ruth Sanguinetti Godbout, Lee Sanguinetti, and David and Diane Sanguinetti all of Sonora; and many other relatives

Visitation will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. today at Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Wednesday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sonora. Following the service, a gathering will take place at St. Patrick's parish hall.

Donations in Mr. Gardella's name may be made to the Sonora Area Foundation, Gardella Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 577, Sonora, CA 95370.

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements.