A funeral Mass was offered June 28 at St. Anthony's Church, Schenectady, for Rev. Anthony DeFranco, who died June 24. He was 99 and had been a priest of the Albany Diocese for 74 years.

A native of the province of Calabria, Italy, he came to the U.S. in 1914. He served as associate pastor at St. Anthony's parish in Schenectady and St. Joseph's in Albany, administrator of Our Lady of the Assumption (now Our Lady Queen of Peace) in Rotterdam and pastor of St. Rita's in Cohoes. From 1969-'81, he was pastor of St. Anthony's in Schenectady, remaining there as pastor emeritus for decades afterward.

Cherished as a mentor by many fellow priests, Father DeFranco always told The Evangelist that he enjoyed the simple life: Italian food, time with friends and in prayer, watching Yankees baseball games. He would put off celebrating his own extraordinary ordination anniversaries in favor of attending St. Anthony's parish Festa, an annual event that draws a huge crowd.

Father DeFranco passed away just two months short of his 100th birthday. Friends were already planning a party. It seems fitting, though, that a priest who spent his long life in humble service went to his reward without fanfare. Even his words of wisdom after seven decades in religious life were such: "Love God and be happy."

Interment was in Calvary Cemetery, Glenmont.