OBITUARY

Anthony "Tony" Charles Grifo

February 13, 1932November 18, 2021

Anthony “Tony” Grifo, age 89, of Orange, died of renal failure on November 18, 2021.

He is survived by his life partner Rodger Flores and nieces and nephews Paula Gustafson, Sally Persigan, Jerry Grifo, Michelle Long, Lori Grifo, and Rosie Tremaine.

Tony was born February 13, 1932, in Melrose Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

He was the youngest of five brothers. After graduating from high school, Tony enlisted in the Army. His primary role was cook, a job he remembered fondly, along with spending time abroad stationed in Japan. He served honorably for four years, reaching the rank of Corporal. He left the Army in 1952 but never forgot his time serving his country. He was a true patriot who was always proud to fly the American flag on holidays.

After the Army, Tony moved to California in 1961 to dodge the cold, windy winters of the Midwest. With no family here, he chose Orange County as his home. He got a job as an orderly at Orange County Hospital in Orange, known today as UCI Medical Center. He worked in what was then referred to as the “mental ward.” He was considered a “5150” specialist, a good listener who could talk patients out of harming themselves. His empathetic nature led him to his professional calling as a mental health specialist for the County of Orange. He worked the rest of his professional career helping the mentally ill until his retirement in 1991.

In his later years before he retired, Tony became an avid collector of antiques. He spent many weekends visiting flea markets, estate sales, and garage sales. He loved collecting Scottish Terrier memorabilia and antique furnishings. He eventually turned his hobby into a side business. He would refurbish antique collections and sell them at flea markets like the old swap meet at the Orange Drive-In. It was there that he met Rodger Flores in 1975. Rodger was selling furniture next to Tony’s stall at the flea market.

Tony and Rodger found they shared a love for Scottish Terriers, and for collecting antiques.

They have been inseparable ever since.

After Tony retired, he worked for the Antique Station in Old Towne Orange and continued buying and selling vintage furnishings and decor. Over four decades, it was routine for Tony and Rodger to jump into Tony’s pickup truck to hunt for treasures at yard sales all around Orange.

“We’ll always have a piece of Tony with us because I bet everyone he knows has a special ‘Treasure from Tony’ in their home,” Rodger’s niece Nancy MacDonald says.

Tony was generous throughout his entire life. He donated to charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army, and helped friends and family in need.

“Everyone should have an uncle like Uncle Tony,” his niece Paula Gustafson of Florida says.

Tony was a savvy entrepreneur and invested in real estate throughout his later years. Everyone called Tony the “Mayor of Stevens Street,” where he lived since 1966 and owned rental homes. He was very close to his mom, Rose, and missed her while living in California. In 1967, he bought the house next door and moved Rose to Stevens Street. She lived next door to him until she passed away in 1982.

Tony loved mingling with his neighbors and cherished the friendships with The Hagers, Sharon Powell, The Bramsons, Kellie and Art Herrera, The Palmers, Debbie Van Story, Vlatka Kaufenberg, and Josie. Every Christmas, he’d put a bow on every tree in the neighborhood.

Everyone knows Tony was a charming and soft-spoken man. But, here are a few things you might not know about Tony: He would say the Rosary at 3 a.m. every day, using his mother’s beads. He also fed his cats at that time. He always prayed for anyone who was sick or in need of help. He loved to pay in cash and only owned two credit cards his entire life but never used them. He loved macaroni and cheese and chicken pot pies.

He loved his cats, his Scottie dogs, and listening to old Dean Martin hits. His last words to Rodger before he passed away: “Feed the cats.”

Services

29 November

Visitation

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Fairhaven Memorial Park Mortuary

Legacy Chapel

1702 Fairhaven Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92705

30 November

Graveside Service

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Fairhaven Memorial Park Mortuary

1702 Fairhaven Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Memories

Anthony "Tony" Charles Grifo

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Lori Grifo

November 24, 2021

The favorite memory that Uncle Tony and my mother used to share with me took place when I was four. My Uncle Tony would come to the house and put a perm in my blond hair because I wanted curls like Shirley Temple. For several years after that, I thought the "Toni Perm" he put on my hair was named after him! I would brag about my famous uncle.....

Doug Matthews

November 24, 2021

This is a touching tribute to a very remarkable man. My condolences to his family and friends.