on July 26, 2013 - 8:14 PM
May 24, 1943 – July 24, 2013
David D. Celani, an Army National Guard veteran who had a long career as a truck driver for a variety of local businesses and was active in the community, died Wednesday. He was 70.
Born in Lackawanna, Mr. Celani began driving trucks in his 20s after a brief stint as a locomotive mechanic at Republic Steel convinced him that the workplace environment in a steel mill did not suit him.
His first job as a truck driver was driving routes for various local companies as a member of the Teamsters.
He went on to work for a long list of local companies, including McDonald’s Bus Co., Kaufman’s Bakery and Northtown Automotive.
Mr. Celani spoke often of one of his most memorable experiences as a National Guardsman. In November 1963, he was stationed in Virginia when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.
Mr. Celani was among the guardsmen who were given guns, loaded into trucks and sent on patrol in the aftermath of the assassination.
In addition to his career and service, Mr. Celani is remembered for his love of teaching, which he attributed to his influential educators at Maryvale High School in Cheektowaga, his alma mater.
He served as education coordinator and instructor at a truck-driving school owned by a friend, was a National Safety Council instructor for safe driving courses and spent 13 years as a volunteer boat safety instructor for the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Mr. Celani was also known for his political activism. He regularly attended Town Board meetings in Tonawanda, where he lived, to encourage elected officials to improve his community.
He also served as a Democratic committeeman and Board of Elections inspector for the town.
Mr. Celani is survived by his wife, the former Janice M. Greene; and a sister, Claudette Pulley.
A memorial service will be at 9 a.m. today in Lombardo Funeral Home, 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.