Eugene Franklin ‘Geno’ Yellico
Eugene Franklin “Geno” Yellico, 70, died of metastatic melanoma on May 20, 2009, at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
Geno was born Feb. 13, 1939, in Canon City to Anne and Gene Yellico. They moved to Delta, where his father owned the Tomahawk Coal Mine. As a youngster, he worked alongside his father at the mine helping build it into one of the top coal mines in the area, and eventually leasing it to Texas Gulf. He graduated from Delta High School in 1957.
After graduating from Western State College in Gunnison with degrees in business administration and accounting, Yellico married his college sweetheart, Susan Kay Frasier in 1963 in Gunnison, and they made their home in Colorado Springs.
Yellico enlisted in the United States Army at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He finished his Army service in 1964, and continued as an Army reservist. During his service he worked for Safeway Inc. He was a manager at Safeway by 1965. He was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve in 1967.
Geno continued building on a successful career with Safeway, opening a store in Widefield. Demonstrating his innovative approach to business, his store was selected to be a test case for the first 3.2 liquor license in El Paso County. He then was transferred to Grand Junction to open a brand new store. Soon after, Safeway asked Yellico to manage the Glenwood Springs supermarket, and he and his family relocated to Glenwood, where they have made their home since 1972.
In August 1977, Yellico left Safeway and started Glenwood Food and Fuel Inc. (Geno’s), with his good friend and business partner Michael Fattor. Eventually, Yellico had two stores in Glenwood Springs and one in Montrose. He opened Geno’s Liquors a few years later. He always welcomed everyone at Geno’s; every person was treated to a little bit of his wisdom and laughter.
“It was always a family business. We worked behind the counter selling gas and groceries alongside Dad. He always told us to say ‘Hello,’ ‘Thank You,’ and ‘Goodbye,’ and to mean it.”
Geno was a family man first and foremost, and he included many in his family. He smiled and talked to anyone and everyone he met; being sure that those he encountered learned a little about life and doing the right thing. He made everyone feel important.
Athleticism also played a part in Geno’s life, in many ways. In his youth, he was a standout basketball and baseball player. He also enjoyed success in bowling and fast-pitch softball. He began playing fast-pitch softball with the base team at Fort Carson and continued to play in Grand Junction. In Glenwood, he played on softball teams for All-Star Sports, Mid-Continent Coal Co., The Loft, and Jake O’Briens, with one of the best pitching arms in the state. In his first year in Glenwood Springs, he helped the All Star Sports team win the highly competitive Strawberry Days Tournament.
A generous man, Geno was involved in many business, civic and charitable organizations throughout his life including the Boys and Girls Club, Sertoma Club, The Jaycees, and the board of directors of St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs. He was also president of the Safeway Employees Association ” Denver Division.
In Glenwood, Yellico served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, sergeant at arms of the Sunshine Rotary Club, and was granted lifetime membership of the Elks Club. He was an active contributor to many local organizations. Geno and Sue delighted in giving to almost anyone who needed it ” whether through their time, their finances or a home-cooked meal. To this day, his family continues to hear stories of his generous ways. His contributions to the communities of which he was a part enabled many to learn and lead better lives.
Yellico embraced his Austrian/Italian heritage, often making home-recipe gnocchi and ravioli for both family and friends. As fixtures at the Glenwood Italian Picnic, Geno and Sue could be counted on for thousands of gnocchi and a great story or two. Furthermore, Geno’s cousin, Father Guido Bertuzzi, held a special mass last week in Albiano, Italy, in honor of Geno and his favorite uncle Henry Gillie who passed away May 19.
Yellico is survived by his wife, Sue; his sister, Linda Green of Alpharetta, Ga.; his sons Mike Yellico of Marble and Jim Yellico of Glenwood Springs; daughters Missy Sickels of New Castle and Kristi Rathbun of Denver; sons-in-law Kodi Sickels and Rob Rathbun; daughter-in-law Myka Yellico; and eight grandchildren, Colton and Max Sickels, Brooks and Spencer Rathbun, and Mason, Elle, Hadley and Sayre Yellico.
Memorial contributions can be made in honor of Geno Yellico to the University of Colorado Melanoma Center though Alpine Bank.
Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 27, at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 1885 Blake Ave. Father Cliff McMillan will officiate. There will be a barbecue at Sayre Park, immediately following the service. A rosary will also be held Tuesday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s.
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