Anthony F. "Tony" Mele, who owned and operated Clinton Auto Wrecking on Clinton Street, died Thursday (Oct. 24, 1996) in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a brief illness. He had just turned 61.
Born in Fredonia and a graduate of Burgard Vocational High School, Mele worked for the railroad for a while and then for Buffalo Auto Wrecking before deciding to go into business for himself.
He opened Clinton Auto Wrecking in 1969, turning it into a prosperous business, his son Anthony said.
"He started with absolutely nothing, and he built it into something," he said, adding that he and his brother, Paul, are running the family business now. "He was a self-made man."
Despite the long hours spent building up his business, Mele always made time for his family, letting the children have lunch at the shop when he could, his son said.
"We spent every afternoon there after school from the time we were ten years old," his son said. "We loved it."
In addition to a variety of civic groups, Mele was also a member of a long list of industry organizations, including the State Auto and Truck Dismantlers Association and the Automotive Recyclers Association of New York, where his son said he pioneered methods of recycling in his industry.
Mele is survived by his wife of 42 years, the former Joan Zygmunt of Clarence; his sons, Anthony and Paul; two daughters, Paula Cohen and Pamela Kreinheder; four brothers, Julio, Santa, Vincent and Salvatore; a sister, Carmiela LoBuglio; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, Genesee Street and Union Road, Cheektowaga. Entombment will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.