D'ONOFRIO: ‘Oh, Danny Boy’ we loved you

John D'Onofrio

Dan Graney's 18-hole round of 65 at the newly constructed Niagara County Golf Course in 1964 will live on forever.

No, the county course wasn't and isn't the most difficult to play, but Graney, the former golf professional there before operating his fabulous Niagara-Orleans Country Club in Middleport for decades, was proud of the accomplishment, most especially because it stood the test of time.

It wasn't until 54 years later that Lockport's J.J. Napoli broke Graney's county course record by shooting a round of 63 on July 12, 2018.

Long since retired, “Mr. G,” as I called him, shot me an email soon after from his Florida home, looking to make contact with J.J. so that he could personally congratulate him.

That's the kind of person Mr. G was: a gentleman who loved golf and those who respected the game.

Soon after then-US&J sports editor Craig Connell introduced me to Mr. G, the Graneys endured a gut-wrenching tragedy with the sudden death of their son, Danny, in 1995.

I remember Danny in school and he was always a gentle soul. His sister, Lynn, was my classmate and another brother, Bill, who wasn't far off in age, was another outstanding golfer in the family and worked at the course for years.

Craig and I attended Danny's funeral Mass at St. John's Church together and I'll never forget when the song "Oh, Danny Boy" was played and I saw Mr. G several rows ahead of me slowly bow his head and lift his hands up to his face. It was gut-wrenching.

Mr G and the Graney family went on to memorialize their lost loved one with an annual golf tournament at the NOCC, “The Danny,” which donated proceeds to Save-A-Pet.

Mr. G's county course record was tied in the mid 1980s, by professional golfer Lonnie Nielson, who was competing in a Pro Am at the county course, which is a par-72, 6,400-yard public course (par 73, 5,200 yards from the red tees) on 380 acres of land east of Davison Road.

Throughout my time at the paper as sports editor, Graney never charged me to play golf at the NOCC. I only golfed once or twice a year anyway, but he always welcomed me with a handshake and warm smile, expressed gratitude for reporting on his leagues and hoped that I would enjoy my time at his course. Since he never charged me to golf there, I always bought a bite to eat from the kitchen on my way out and I always sought him out to personally thank him.

I ended playing in a league or two at the NOCC and loved taking my friends there on the few occasions I did go.

I was saddened to hear that Mr. G had passed away last week at the age of 83 in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla. He's survived by his wife, of 63 years, Judith Johnson Graney; and children Bill and Lynn Graney Sumple. Lynn has two sons, Matthew and Patrick Casasanta.

Mr. G's wake was held Tuesday at McMahon's Funeral Home in White Plains. A funeral Mass was scheduled today and a Christian burial was scheduled to immediately follow the mass at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of his name to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation at https://secure.mymsaa.org/donate.

Mr. G, we bid you a fond farewell. You touched all of our lives with your kindness and by giving us such a beautiful place to play the game you loved for so many years.

Follow John D’Onofrio on Twitter with “Good Morning, Lockport, N.Y.” weekday mornings at @LockportJournal.

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