(June 19, 1892 – Nov. 22, 1976)
Published in the Hazleton Standard Speaker, Nov. 26, 1976
August H. Genetti
The death of August H. Genetti Monday night marked the end of a truly remarkable career. A saga which personifies the American dream – the story of an immigrant boy who became a giant in not one, but several fields of endeavor.
The one factor which spelled success for Gus Genetti was that everything he did had to be “top drawer.” He was a perfectionist all the way.
Gus Genetti achieved fame as a food merchant, a mink rancher, a farmer and at a time when an ordinary man would have gone into retirement became a hotel and restaurant owner who earned national distinction.
He learned the food business working for his father in a meat and grocery business which had its beginning in a door-to-door wagon.
Returning to the family business after serving in the Army during World War I he became president and general manager of D. Genetti and Sons.
Under his leadership the firm grew from one store to a chain of 18 neighborhood markets. Then came the birth of the supermarket and Genetti’s was ready to meet the new challenge, building at Broad and Laurel streets a market which at the time was unique in its field.
Supplying the chain with many of its needs was a model farm which Gus Genetti retained, when in 1940 he sold his interests in the food chain to his brothers.
Breeding of mink soon went beyond the hobby stage and soon Gus Genetti was developing mutations which won him national honors.
But the life of a country gentleman was too tame for a man of such drive and stamina and at the age of 60 he purchased a barbecue restaurant and grove on Route 309 north of the city and here built a hotel and restaurant which was to become a landmark of the east.
Again moving into the mainstream of a new concept he added motel units and later a ballroom which was to become the focal point of the area’s most important social affairs.
Even upon approaching his 80th birthday he was ready to move onward and had plans for a new and modern hotel at the site, going so far as to raze the original structure in preparation for a great expansion.
But finally failing health forced him to yield the reins to his son William who presently heads the firm.
Men like Gus Genetti do not come along often but they serve as inspirations to those who believe that the American dream will never die.
Obituary published in the Hazleton Standard Speaker, November 24, 1976.
Gus Genetti, restaurateur, dies at 84
August H. (Gus) Genetti, a pioneer in a regional retail food chain and the founder of the Gus Genetti Motor Lodge, died Monday night at 11:30 o’clock at his home on the lodge grounds. he was 84.
He was prominent as a hotelman, restaurateur, mink rancher and banker and had developed the lodge into one of the leading hostelries in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
His death followed an illness of two months, during which time he had been hospitalized several times.
Genetti was born June 19, 1892 at Castelfondo in the Tyrol, a son of the late Damian [Damiano] and Olive [Oliva] Genetti, who had been wed in this country but who had returned to the Tyrol where they had holdings.
The fourth in a family of five sisters and four brothers, he came to the United States in 1906 when he was 14 years old.
Upon arriving in this country, Genetti went to work with his father in the grocery and meat business In 1917, he entered the U.S. Army with the first draft from this area, and after serving as a cook with the 311th Field Artillery, was honorably discharged at Camp Meade, Maryland, in 1919.
It was while serving with the Army during World War I that he was naturalized by an Act of Congress in 1918.
Returning to the family business with his father and brothers, he became the president and general manager of D. Genetti & Sons. The firm, under his leadership, grew from one store to a chain of 18 quality markets. The firm had its own bakery in the building of its base store at Broad and Pine streets and operated farms at Drums and Sybertsville to provide fresh vegetables in season and milk and cream for the bakery.
Genetti was one of the pioneers in the supermarket development in Pennsylvania and, shortly before World War II, opened the most modern market of its day at Laurel and Green streets. He sold his interests in the firm to his brothers in 1940 and turned full time to his hobby of mink ranching, a field in which he gained international prominence.
In 1949, he was elected president of the Eastern Fur Farmers Cooperative, Inc., and was made a director of the national board of Fur Farmers Organizations. The Eastern Cooperative at that time had a membership of more than 600 fur farmers.
Genetti was recognized by the mink industry as one of the originators of new colors in mink by mutation breeding. Some of the new colors were originated on his ranch in Sugarloaf Township and won many championships at leading national mink shows.
At one show in Utica, N.Y., the feature of the event was the appearance of a new class of mink known as sapphire blue which Genetti had developed. He won 24 awards at the Utica show, including two championships and seven first places. He spoke before breeder groups in Canada and provided information and breeder stock to many foreign countries.
A newspaper account of 1958 stated that “… in the mink industry his name will live forever through his contributions in mutations.” However, his proudest moment as a mink rancher came when he was awarded the champion prize at the Michigan-Ohio International Show at Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1945 for a female white mink.
In 1951, he took the step which was to make his name synonymous with fine food and hospitality. He bought a property on Route 309 which consisted of what then was known as a barbecue stand and a surrounding oak grove. Originally called the Gus Genetti Hotel, the project grew in 1953 when a modern motel unit was added and became known as the Gus Genetti Motor Lodge.
The lodge rapidly became known throughout the east for its fine food and excellent accommodations. It not only served as a social center for the community, but in the early days of CAN DO and the struggle for economic rebirth in this area, it was physical evidence of the qualities inherent in the people of Greater Hazleton. Many industrial leaders, government officials and visiting dignitaries were amazed to discoverer a hostelry of such quality and ambience existing in a depressed community. Many of the key meetings, conferences, and dinners which are woven into the fabric of this community’s post-World War II renaissance were held at the Gus Genetti Motor Lodge.
Governors, movie stars, famous musicians and military leaders all enjoyed the famous Genetti hospitality and many of them maintained a longtime friendship with their host who took a personal interest in the comfort of his guests. A highlight of the lodge’s history was the visit of the late President John F. Kennedy, who rested a few hours in the presidential suite while visiting the region.
In 1973, Genetti technically retired from the active management of the firm which now is headed by son, William. However, health permitting, he took a keen interest in the operations of the restaurant and hotel which now has grown to 100 motel rooms plus a large ballroom and multiple dining and banquet facilities.
During his active business career, he also had been associated with the People’s Savings and Trust Co., now the Peoples First National Bank, for almost a half century as a member of the board of directors, also serving as vice-president and vice chairman of the board.
One of his most treasured awards was having been chosen the Outstanding Naturalized Citizen of the Hazleton area for 1954 by the Unico Club.
in 1958 he was an independent candidate for the treasurer of Luzerne County, sweeping the lower end against the organization forces; and also was a candidate for delegate to the Republican National convention in San Francisco in 1964.
Genetti was a Rotarian for many years, a member of the American Institute of Banking, the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, Elks, American Legion and Valley Country Club, as well as many mink ranching associations.
Preceding him in death were his first wife, the former Mary Dougherty, and his second wife, Della Fox Genetti, who died May 25, 1976. He also was preceded in death by a brother, Leon, and two sisters, Mrs. Dora Bott and Mrs. Henry Branz.
Surviving are four children: Mrs. Charles Moyer, Schuylkill Haven; William E. Genetti, Conyngham, president of the Gus Genetti Motor Lodge, Inc.; Marianne Genetti, Orlando, Florida; and Gus Genetti Jr., Wilkes-Barre, operator of the Gus Genetti Hotels in Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport.
Also surviving are 11 grandchildren and these brothers and sisters: Stanley V., Albert and Esther Genetti, this city; Mrs. Tillie Zambotti, Weston; and Mrs. Ann McNelis, Lake Harmony.
The funeral will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. from the Conahan Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 o’clock in St. Gabriel’s Church. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Drums.