Donald Joseph Ragno |
March 14, 1922 - June 22, 2014 Donald Joseph Ragno passed away peacefully on the morning of June 22 after a brief illness. He was 92. Beloved by family and friends, Don will be deeply missed.
Born in Bingham Canyon, Utah, to Gugliemina Robbiano and Giovanni (John) Ragno of Silvano d'Orba, Italy, Don was the youngest of three children. He moved to Oakland with his family at age one, and later to Palo Alto, graduating from Palo Alto High School in 1940, where he played varsity basketball. He continued to play basketball as a student at UCLA. Don enlisted in the Navy in 1943, serving until 1946 as a lieutenant, and eventually, a commanding officer, aboard three USS LCIs in the Asiatic-Pacific, the Philippines, and Europe. Returning to UCLA on the GI bill, Don graduated in 1946, majoring in economics. Through the years, Don often spoke of how much he enjoyed Southern California's beaches during college. While at UCLA, he met Frances Halstenrud. They were married in 1947, and moved to Palo Alto.
With his brother, Larry, Don was the owner of John's, a popular East Palo Alto liquor and wine business started by their father, John Ragno, with a restaurant and bar next door. The business grew quickly and they opened a second store in Ladera Shopping Center in Portola Valley in 1957.
Throughout his life, Don enjoyed travel. He and Fran made many wonderful trips around the globe, also returning on a regular basis to visit family in Italy, where he loved having opportunities to converse in his local dialect. Don was an inveterate student of languages, and studied Spanish and French to add to his ability to communicate easily when traveling. Two of Don's passions were golf and basketball. He was a Stanford Golf Course member for many years, playing twice weekly in retirement until very recently. He was a loyal fan of the Stanford basketball team. Above all, Don valued friends and family. He had the ability to connect in a personal way with everyone he met, and was often described as a true gentleman. He and Fran entertained generously over many years, and his warmth toward people he knew was unforgettable.
Don is survived by Frances Ragno, his wife of 66 years, his five sons, Brock, Matthew, John, Martin and Donald, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a sister, Lillian, and a brother, Lawrence.
A memorial service was held Saturday, June 28 at The Vi in Palo Alto. Memorial contributions may be made toward the restoration of LCI (L) 713 c/o Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum, PO Box 17220, Portland, OR 97217.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from June 26 to June 29, 2014