Andrew Difani, deceased, was for many years successfully identified with business interests in Riverside as senior member of the firm of A. Difani & Sons, dealers in vehicles, trucks and farm implements and proprietors of a general repair shop. He was born at Hermann, Missouri, January 23, 1864, a son of Andrew and Amelia (Willi) Difani. Andrew Difani, Sr., a native of Baden-Baden, Germany, crossed the Atlantic to the United States in young manhood, locating at St. Louis, Missouri, where he engaged in the retail shoe business. Subsequently he removed to Montgomery City, Missouri, where he resided for about thirty-five years. In the fall of 1884 he came with his family to California, establishing his home on a ranch in the vicinity of Elsinore. Two years later, however, he returned to Missouri, in which state he passed away in 1892. His wife, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, was of German-Swiss parentage, and her father, who was for a time an engineer on crafts plying on the Ohio River, later turned his attention to blacksmithing, which trade he had learned in Switzerland. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Difani, Sr., were the parents of six children, as follows: Edward, who died in Los Angeles; Andrew, of this review; W. Columbus, also deceased, who was a resident of Palo Alto, California; Winona; Byron, a rancher of Imperial Valley; and Olca, who was a resident of Riverside at the time of her death.
Andrew Difani received a high school education and also attended business college at Montgomery City, Missouri. He was twenty years of age when in 1884 he accompanied his parents on their removal to California. He had already served an apprenticeship of three years at the trade of horseshoeing and carriage manufacturing and had worked one year for wages. He came to the Golden state with the intention of establishing himself in business, started the first shop at Elsinore, and conducted it for nine months, going from there to Wildomar, California, where he operated another shop for a similar period. It was in 1892 that he came to Riverside, where with a partner he purchased a shop on Eight and Orange streets, of which he became the sole proprietor in 1897, thereafter remaining alone in business until 1921. In that year, however, he took his sons, Leo Andrew and Leonard Joseph, into the business under the firm name of A. Difani & Sons. For many years he made a specialty of manufacturing all kinds of vehicles, especially those for business and delivery wagons, and fitting up hook and ladder trucks. In 1916 he added agricultural implements to his stock, and the firm also handled the Fageol trucks and tractors and the Moline agricultural implements. The concern occupied well equipped quarters at 851 Orange Street, between Eighth and Ninth streets.
On the 1st of July, 1890, in Alexis, Illinois, Mr. Difani was united in marriage to Miss Alice R. Robinson, a daughter of Rev. Joseph and Ellen Robinson, natives of England, where she was born, reared and educated. At the age of sixteen years she came to the United States with her parents, who took up their abode in Alexis, Illinois. Her father was a clergyman of the Methodist Church. Mr. and Mrs. Difani became the parents of three children: Leo Andrew, Leonard Joseph and Corrine Beatrice. Leo Andrew Difani was born in Wildomar, California, May 11, 1891, and attended grammar and high schools in the acquirement of an education. He was connected with Brainard & Company of Riverside, selling the Buick automobiles, before going into business with his father, but is now assistant sales manager with Don Lee, Cadillac distributor for the state of California. Enlisting for military service at the time of the World War, he was assigned to the chemical warfare section and stationed at San Francisco, where he was a sergeant and was discharged with that rank after the signing of the Armistice. Leonard Joseph Difani was born in Riverside, August 19, 1894. After attending the schools of his native city he matriculated in the University of Southern California, and he had been a student of that institution for three and one-half years when war was declared. He enlisted for service in the navy and attended the officers training camp at San Pedro and San Francisco. Receiving his commission as an ensign, he was assigned to duty on the U. S. S. Brutus, where he remained until the cessation of hostilities when he was honorably discharged, and, returning to the University of Southern California, took the examination for the bar and was admitted to practice. He followed his profession for two months in the office of Carnahan & Clark in Los Angeles, and then returned to Riverside to go into partnership with his father. He is now a prominent attorney of this city. On December 25, 1919, Leonard J. Difani married Miss Ruth Elizabeth Stephens, a native of Iowa and a daughter of W. E. Stephens, a realtor of Riverside. They are the parents of four children, namely: Eleanor Elizabeth, Edward Andrew, Ewing Stephens and William Sharpless. The mother of the above named attended the University of Washington at Seattle and is a member of the Delta Gamma sorority. Leonard J. Difani has membership in the Sigma Chi fraternity. Corrine Beatrice, the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Difani, was born in Riverside, was graduated from the Riverside high school with the class of 1918 and completed her studies at Columbia University of New York City. She is now Mrs. A. C. Young, of Honolulu, and the mother of one child, Carolyn Ann, who was born in Singapore.
The late Andrew Difani was too busy a man to take any active part in politics and never sought office but was interested in the advancement of his home city, of which he was exceedingly proud. Fraternally he was identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Woodmen of the World, and the Present Day Club, while his religious faith was indicated by his membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which his widow also belongs and in the work of which she takes an active and helpful part. Mrs. Difani is likewise a member of the Ladies of the Maccabees and the Independent Order of Foresters. It was on the 22nd of May, 1928, at his home in Riverside, that Mr. Difani departed this life at the age of sixty-four years.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 115-118, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.