The man whose very name became synonymous with electronic and appliance sales in Rockford, businessman Al Grace, has died at the age of 98.
Grace was not only the namesake of his business on Riverside Boulevard, but became a familiar face to Stateline area residents as the television pitchman for it as well, his ads often incorporating humor and Grace’s larger-than-life personality to make him a local celebrity.
According to a biography written by Rockford’s Ethnic Heritage Museum when they named him ‘Man of the Year’ in 2015, “Alfonso Grace (family name Graceffa) came to Rockford at age 10 with his parents Louis and Rosalie Graceffa. Alfonso graduated from Rockford Central High School in 1935. His friends called him Al and his music career started at an early age with the clarinet. After high school , Al started playing in a band while working at Nelson Knitting. When the war came he was drafted and stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington in the medical corp. He started playing trumpet and was leader of many USO bands that entertained troops.”
“After the war he returned to Rockford and worked as a serviceman for Wilson Electric. He resumed his role as Band Leader for the Al Grace Band. In 1947 he married Marie. This union produced three children. Al loved entertaining in Rockford every Saturday night until 1960. In addition to Al’s love of music, he started his business Al Grace Appliance. His business grew in the area as well as his band career. The business is still operating on West Riverside Blvd., Rockford today. Customers still come into the store with an Al Grace story relating to a dance or wedding he had played.”
Details are not yet available regarding funeral arrangements.