By Robert Haugh
Known by many as “Mr. Santa Clara,” Larry Marsalli recently passed away. The former Mayor, Council member and beloved community organizer was 92.
Marsalli served 22 years in municipal positions, including 10 years as an elected Council member, two years as Mayor and several years as a Civil Service Commissioner and Planning Commissioner.
He was co-founder with Ed Cunha of the Parade of Champions. He was Chair of the popular Mission City event for 40-plus years.
Marsalli served on the Council from 1963 to 1973 and was the Mayor-Pro Tem (elected) in 1967 and 1968. He was a WWII Army veteran and served as a volunteer fireman for over 20 years, rising to the rank of Assistant Fire Chief.
Marsalli was among the founders of Santa Clara’s Wutzit Club, which became one of the most successful youth organizations in the country. It’s told that he personally transported Wutzit Director Father Walter E. Schmidt to Hollywood – where they lured Frank Sinatra and other celebrities to the area for a fundraiser that helped save the organization.
He was also the founder of the Marsalli Family Community Thanksgiving, a free turkey dinner event serving up to 750 homeless, veterans and the less fortunate each Thanksgiving. This year will be the 13th annual celebration. He was also one of the founders of San Jose’s Italian American Heritage Foundation.
Last but not least, Marsalli was a commentator for the World champion Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corp.
We hope you rest in peace, Mr. Santa Clara.