Obituary: John Battista Scalzo
April 29, 1924 – August 2, 2020
John B. Scalzo of Rifle passed away on August 2, 2020, at the age of 96.
John was born April 29, 1924, in Grand Junction, Colorado, son of the late Louis and Carolina (Bonacci) Scalzo. John’s father was a foreman for the Rio Grande Railroad, and he spent his early childhood in Cisco, Utah before moving to Rifle Colorado in May of 1930. John left high school during 11th grade to join the Navy but was too young to enlist. He was recruited by a US Maritime Recruiter and joined the Merchant Marines. He received his training at the US Coast Guard in Sheepshead Bay, New York. After training, he was stationed in the South Pacific from September 1943 thru November 1945. He received his discharge from the Coast Guard for service in the Merchant Marines in January 1946.
John came back to Rifle and in May of 1946 received his GED. John married Mary Keller on December 7, 1950, in Sedalia, Missouri. They made their home in Rifle for 58 years. He had several local jobs and joined the Rifle Chamber of Commerce. He sold insurance and managed the local bowling alley. When they started the Elks Lodge, he bought shares and eventually took on the job as Organizational Secretary. He then became the first secretary and club manager. During his time with the Elks Lodge in Rifle, he was Exalted Ruler, Chaplain and Trustee Grand Law Officer. It was then that they started the Annual Invitational Western Slope Elks Lodge Golf Tournament.
John always had many irons in the fire. He served as Rifle’s Fire Chief, serving from 1957 to 1977. In 1973 Mary and John opened It Liquors, which was also known as Jon’s Liquors. They also owned Park Avenue Car Wash all the while John was on the road working for Wholesale Liquor and Wine until retiring in 1986. While doing that job John served on the Expo Committee for 5 years, whose purpose was to support and build the multi-purpose building at the fairgrounds, he was elected to Rifle City Council, was chosen mayor of Rifle and served 4 years. John helped start the free paper for Rifle, which then became the Rifle Telegram and is now the Citizen Telegram. He chaired many committees but the one he was most passionate about was Chair of The West Garfield County Memorial Wall. John’s passion for honoring those that and served their country from the surrounding communities inspired the memorial. It was his drive and ability to raise and secure donations that saw the memorial dedicated on November 8, 2009.
From Working Bingo at the Elks Club to advisor for the Rifle Senior Center, John wore many hats and accomplished a great deal for the town of Rifle. Always available to help and always ready to comment on what was happening in Rifle and beyond.
John is survived by the members of the Scalzo, Zarlingo and Keller families. Services will be held on August 29, 2020, at 11:00 AM at the West Garfield County Memorial Wall. Military Burial will follow at the Rifle Cemetery.
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