by Joseph H. RADDER
Whoever created the title for this series, "Forever Young and Active", must have had somebody like Sandy Marzullo in mind. Since he started "working" on a farm at age three to his present full schedule, Santo ("Sandy") Marzullo stays young by staying active. At age 74, he's still athletic, he's active in music, sings with The Greater Buffalo Opera Company and in the choir at St. Aloysius Church. He's active in the theater, playing bit parts in locally-produced feature movies like "The Natural" and "Manna from Heaven." And he volunteers at Studio Arena Theater, The Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra, Shea's Performing Arts Center and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where, to date, he has logged in over 900 hours of service. No wonder he was selected to receive one of Coordinated Care's most recent Prime Time Lifetime Achievement Awards. These are the awards that were created to honor western New York citizens who exemplify successful aging.
As if all this extra-curricular activity and volunteer work weren't enough, Sandy Marzullo is the official archivist for the Buffalo Bills. His storehouse of information on Bills teams and players goes way back to the All-American Conference days in the 1940s. When local sports writers and TV sportscasters want statistical information on the Bills, they turn to Sandy Marzullo. For the past 36 years, he has been part of the Buffalo Bills statistical crew.
Sandy works part-time with the director of archives at the Buffalo Bills, Denny Lynch. "Denny says he has me in this job because I'm the oldest guy he knows,"
The archives department supplies historic as well as current information for the Bills' web site. For example, fans can go online and ask where a certain old-time player is now and find the answer. "I've been involved with the Bills since the beginning," he says proudly. "It's been a passion."
"In 1996 the Bills allowed me to coordinate a reunion of the former All-American Conference players of the 1940s. I spent over three years trying to locate them." Marzullo has learned a lot of interesting things about old Buffalo Bills. For example, Zeke O'Connor, a 1946 Buffalo Bill out of Notre Dame, climbed Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and started the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation to raise money for the poor people in Nepal.
Santo A. Marzullo was born in Buffalo on November 1, 1929. His father, Placido Marzullo, worked for a flour milling company in Black Rock. His mother, Francesca Rinaldi Marzullo, was a full-time mother and homemaker.
Sandy, the youngest of six children, has two sisters, Marie Runfola, who lives in California, and Angela Utnik, who lives in Buffalo. His two oldest brothers, Carmelo and Nicholas, are deceased. His younger brother, Joseph, lives in Williamsville.
Marzullo's oldest son, Gerald, died of cancer at age 39. Gerald was treated at Roswell Park for twelve years, and, according to Sandy, the fine care Gerald received there undoubtedly added a number of years to his life. This is one of the reasons Marzullo is so passionate about his work at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Just outside the front entrance at Roswell is an engraved paving stone in honor of Gerald.
His daughter, Annette, works for the Social Security Administration here in town. His son, Donald, and wife, Judy, have two sons, Brandon 17 and Matthew 15, both students at Kenmore West High School. Donald is a vice president at Triton Mechanical.
At the outset, we said that Sandy "worked" on a farm at age three. Indeed, his whole family worked on a farm in North Collins and Brant, N.Y. every summer, to earn money for fall school clothes. At age three, it was Sandy's job to bring empty berry quarts and trays to his older brothers and sisters who were busy picking. As he grew older, of course, he too became a picker of berries, beans, tomatoes and peas.
"The farmer-owner we worked for had four daughters," he remembers. "Three are surviving and live in the original farmhouse. I visit them occasionally to this day. They're great football fans, and when they hear Van Miller say something about Sandy Marzullo they get excited."
As a child, Sandy attended School 49 at Fargo and Vermont streets. Later, he studied aviation mechanics at Burgard Vocational High School and took courses at the Erie County Technical Institute in electronics. After high school, he continued to play football, basketball, volleyball and tennis.
From 1951 to 1953, during the Korean War, Marzullo served in the U.S. Army in Japan as a radio repairman. After his discharge he went to work for Sylvania and then Bell Aircraft. After stints with the Prudential Insurance Company and the Ditto Division of Bell and Howell, he honed his business form expertise at Graphic Controls, where he qualified for the President's Club for three years in a row. Later he opened his own business, Mars Business Forms.
Now retired, Marzullo had coronary by-pass surgery in 1979, 1987, and 1997. Helped by attending cardiac rehab classes three days a week, he continues to live an active life.
After spending an hour with Sandy Marzullo, it's easy to understand why he was selected by Coordinated Care for one of their Lifetime Achievement Awards. Where would we be without people like Sandy, so willing to volunteer so much of his time to so many worthy causes?
Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit www.1stbooks.com
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