Della M. Denny, 99, of Batavia, formerly of Wasco, died peacefully at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva, surrounded by the prayers of her family on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.
She was born May 12, 1913, in Mark, Ill., the oldest of Enrico and Augusta (Bertucci) Mancini’s eight children.
Della grew up in Mark and attended local schools. Like many of her generation, a basic education was provided but was quickly replaced with opportunities to help support the family. Della was no different and found work at Westclox, a watch company, located in LaSalle, Ill. While working at Westclox, Della kept her eye on a certain gentleman, Peter Denny, who worked at a different department. She only got occasional glances when they both would visit the water fountain, but their fate was sealed when they shared the dance floor. Della lost her heart that night and Peter gave his in return. Their two lives became one on Sept. 1, 1934, with 53 years of memories to follow.
They began their new life together in LaSalle. Before long, her uncle, Severo Bertucci, asked her to come and help run a local family tavern, and renamed it Denny’s. Though she may not have known it then, this would be the start of a lifelong relationship with owning and operating taverns and restaurants.
April 24, 1938, the family was blessed with a son, D. Michael, then in August 1945, Susan D. made the family complete. Della and Peter continued to run Denny’s in LaSalle until they moved to Wasco in 1950, where they opened their own tavern, Denny’s Den. They lived in a small connected apartment just behind the tavern, making it their home until their retirement on March 24, 1973, when they sold the business to John Karametzos, who renamed it The Wasco Inn.
Denny’s Den was known all over for their cooking on Friday and Saturday, with Della running the kitchen, making every dish the only way she knew how—from scratch. The aromas that came wafting through enticed everyone who stepped through the door, and helped make the tavern a well-respected and very busy place. The fish frys on Saturdays were very popular, as well, not to mention the businessman lunches throughout the week.
Della was a faithful member of St. Patrick Catholic Church in St. Charles.
Della’s responsibilities started early, being the oldest of eight, and may have been where her incredible work ethic was born. It was that foundation that allowed her to find success in the restaurant business, a business fraught with failures for those not willing to dedicate all they had to making it work on a daily basis. Della and Peter made it look easy though, with Peter making jokes at the bar, and Della’s singing above the din and raucous laughter. They were a match made in heaven, and have finally been reunited for their next chapter of adventures.
She is survived by one daughter, Susan Galley of Elburn; one daughter-in-law, Nancy Denny of Hackettstown, N.J.; six grandchildren, Jason (Vivian) Galley of Anchorage, Alaska, Natalie Galley of Istanbul, Turkey, Stephanie Galley of Elburn, Clarissa Denny of Hackettstown, N.J., Amanda (Erik) Jorgenson and their children, Van and Liv, of N.J., and Emily Denny, also of N.J.; three sisters, Beatrice Billard of Fairborn, Ohio, Rose (Gene) Bartlett of Peru, Ill., and Margaret (Len) Jaross, also of Peru; several nieces and nephews, and a family of friends.
She is preceded by her parents, Enrico and Augusta Mancini; husband, Peter; one son, Michael Denny; a son-in-law; Bruce Galley; granddaughters, Brandi Galley and Rebecca Denny; and four siblings, Anne Brovelli, Mary Shea, Albina Smith and Hank Mancini.
Following cremation, a private memorial service and burial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Della Denny Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.