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Death of ‘adopted grandfather’ hits home for Licata

A beloved member of the Licata extended family will be missing at UB Stadium this season.

Dana Warman lived near the Licata family cottage in Crystal Beach, Ont., and was good friends with Joe Licata’s paternal grandfather. Joe’s grandfather died when Joe was 3, and ever since Warman was just as close as any blood grandfather.

Warman died in February and his obituary reads “dear friend and adopted grandfather of the Licata Family.”

Warman was influential in Joe’s football career. He played football at the University of Miami and was one of the first people Joe told when he decided in seventh grade he was going to play the sport at Williamsville South. Warman said he’d be at every game – which he was.

The adopted grandfather was so influential that he traveled on all of Joe’s recruiting trips. When Joe visited UB, then-coach Jeff Quinn asked Warman what the grandfather needed. Warman told Quinn a chair in the north end zone for every game. And sure enough, that chair was there. Joe’s sisters put a chair there for Joe to see at this year’s spring game.

Warman would sit with a blue Bulls jersey with the No. 16 and the word “Grandpa” on the back. Licata keeps a picture of Warman in that jersey in his locker.

“It’s going to be a little emotional not seeing him in the end zone every game,” Joe said, “but yeah, he was a big influence.”

Joe’s mother, Paula, said Warman and Joe had a “special relationship.” So special that Warman sat at the head of the table and talked football whenever the UB football team came over to share a meal.

After his death, Warman’s family gave Dana’s gold bracelet to Joe.

“When I look down and I see that bracelet – I’m going to wear it every day – it’s pretty emotional,” Joe said. “It means a lot to me that he wanted me to have it.”

Joe said he feels lucky he was able to travel with his mother to see Warman in hospice before he passed. Joe also gave the eulogy at the funeral.

“I mentioned that, about how it was going to be weird without him at the north side of the end zone, but now he’s going to be able to cover the north, south, and every away stadium we play in,” Joe said. “He’ll have an influence.”