2010 January 23

Obituary of Harry Sforzini


Harry with his military decorations at the wedding of his grand-daughter Heather

Harry Peter Sforzini, a lifelong Santa Clara Valley resident and businessman, died peacefully in his sleep on January 22, 2010. Born in Mountain View in 1916, his life spanned and mirrored most of the 20th century.

The son of Italian immigrants, Harry began his working life in his parents’ Sunnyvale grocery store. Harry was student body president and a star basketball and track athlete at Fremont High School. There he also met the love of his life and future wife of nearly 70 years, Carmen Ponce.

Harry captained the Italian-Catholic Federation basketball team during and after high school. Upon graduating, Harry acquired business and accounting skills at Heald College. After Pearl Harbor, he married Carmen and enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Staff Sergeant Harry Sforzini served for three years stateside before deploying to Europe with the 89th Infantry Division, the “Rolling W.” In France and Germany, Harry put his knowledge of Italian to use interpreting for POWs. His valor earned him five decorations: the Combat Infantry Badge, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

While he was overseas, his father, Oreste Sforzini, died. His mother, Eugenia (“Jenny”), sold the family grocery store. At the end of the war, Harry rejoined his growing family in Sunnyvale. Daughter Sharon Diane (1944) was soon joined by Charlotte Ann in 1947.

Harry restarted his business career by joining his uncle, Ugo Mancini, at Mountain View’s Mancini Motors. Upon Ugo’s retirement several years later, Harry and his cousin Ernest Mancini became owners and co-partners. The dealership specialized in Chrysler autos and GMC trucks.

Harry also kept an eye on the local real estate market, purchasing land in Mountain View and Sunnyvale. Harry developed the lots himself, designing and constructing buildings for a variety of uses. His keen judgment was rewarded as his properties’ value grew rapidly. In 1963, at age 47, Harry retired from Mancini Motors to manage his commercial properties full-time.

Throughout his career, Harry was an active member of the Kiwanis service club for businessmen. He joined in 1947, served as president in 1951, and achieved a perfect attendance record of 65 years. At Harry’s initiative, Kiwanis established an annual dinner for the club’s past presidents. Harry’s expertise in real estate enabled Kiwanis to purchase land and build a facility for the Boy and Girl Scouts of Mountain View in the early 1950s. More recently, as use of the property declined, Harry advised Kiwanis on its sale. Proceeds enabled establishment of the Kiwanis Club of Mountain View Foundation, which will continue to support Mountain View youth through the Harry Sforzini Scholarships for high school seniors.

Harry was also an enthusiastic member of the Palo Alto Elks Club, dining and playing basketball and bocce ball there weekly. He contributed to the community as part of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.

An avid outdoorsman, Harry enjoyed hunting and fishing. The family took annual camping trips to Meeks Bay at Lake Tahoe. Other interests Harry shared with Carmen included golf, dancing, and world travel. Above all, the couple loved to gather with family and friends for warm conversation and good times.

Harry was a devoted son, husband, and father. He is survived by his loving wife, Carmen, and the families of his cherished daughters. Sharon Sforzini of North Bethesda, MD married Steven Grant, and Charlotte Sforzini of Alamo wed Joseph Arton. Grandchildren Elliot Grant, Heather Arton Katz, and Nolle Arton Micek join in remembering their beloved grandfather, as do their spouses, Anne Grant, Major Joseph Katz, and John Micek, and their children, Aidan Jang Grant, Logan Thong Grant, and Avery Marie Katz. Harry is also survived by his uncle, Enrico Mancini, of Lucca, Italy; cousins Bob Mancini and Mary Ann Parsons; brother-in-law Donald Sparks; and the Zucchi, Sparks, and Ramos families of Carmen’s sisters.

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