Andy Gambucci filled his 87 years on this earth with extraordinary accomplishments on our nation's athletic stages; succeeding in the business community; as the proud patriarch of his large, multi generational family; and as a loyal, valued friend to scores of people - both famous and not so. Born of immigrant Italian parents in the northern Minnesota iron ore mining town of Eveleth, Andy carried a genuine pride in his roots throughout his life and spoke often of those early years. His father, four time state Bocce champion, was as an underground miner for US Steel for 50 years. His mother had her hands full raising and herding four energetic sons, all of whom were talented athletes with particularly notable success on the hockey rinks in that part of the state. To this day, northern Minnesota is a fertile breeding ground for many of our nation's most heralded hockey players. Andy was certainly one of them. He flourished athletically and academically at home in Eveleth until he left in 1946 to join the US Army. Eventually stationed in Japan for 13 months as a member of the 11th Airborne Infantry, Andy made 5 parachute jumps. He survived them all! Shortly after returning from the service in 1948 Andy received an irresistible scholarship to travel west, attend Colorado College and pursue his studies as well as his many athletic talents. He quickly became a renowned three sport super star in football, hockey and baseball. Andy set records on the gridiron that still stand, once scoring 16 touchdowns in a nine game stretch despite not playing complete games. To save him for hockey games he was often replaced before the game's end. Andy led Colorado College to the national championship in hockey in 1950 and won All American honors two successive years. Spring saw him as the hard hitting centerfielder on the CC baseball team. All those successes in hockey led to his selection for the USA National Hockey team to represent his country at the 1952 Olympic Games in Oslo. It was an enormously proud moment for him, especially when the team brought home the silver medal. Following college Andy had offers to play two sports professionally - the Chicago Bears wanted him for the NFL and the Boston Bruins for the NHL. He declined both and instead accepted an interesting opportunity to play and coach hockey in Italy, in the magnificent mountain village of Cortina D'Ampezzo. He lived and coached there for two seasons - 1954 & 1955. When he finally left to return home, 50 villagers escorted him to the local train station and sang Italian songs in his honor as he boarded the train. He never forgot that grand tribute. Back in America he played professional football in Canada but an injury in his rookie season abruptly ended that adventure. Andy moved back to Colorado Springs to start his career as a business man. His first salvo into the world of commerce had been a stint as a superstar Bellman at The Broadmoor during his Colorado College years. Now it was time for something a bit more serious. By now he had met and fallen in love with his beloved Gloria who was to become the mother of their children. They were married in 1957. That was the same year he started his career as a hockey official, an activity he thoroughly enjoyed for twenty two years. He loved creating order to all the near chaos on the ice. In 1962, Andy finally found his way into the insurance industry where he would experience considerable success over the next five decades. By the time he finally retired, he had built one of the largest insurance agencies in the State of Colorado and was enormously proud to have opened the company's doors every morning at 6:30 AM. Andy was also a founding board member of Ashworth Inc. He was part of the team that eventually built that company into the largest and most respected manufacturer of Golf apparel. After 16 years of dedicated service he retired from the board having never missed a single meeting in all those years. He once mused that he was driven by "the desire to never be poor again." Yes, indeed, Andy was a marvelously successful business man; an athlete extraordinaire, Olympian, iconic character in hockey circles, whose records have been enshrined in many Halls of Fame - Colorado College, the City of Colorado Springs, The State of Colorado and the Italian American Hall of Fame. Most notably, he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in recognition of his considerable achievements in a variety of endeavors. But, when people reminisce and speak of Andy Gambucci, they will smile and most fondly remember him as the valued, loyal friend he was to so many people. Among his most famous friends were Mickey Mantle, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Herb Brooks, Bobby Orr, etc.. When introduced to Andy Tony Bennet said "It is an honor to meet you." During his years in Cortina, one of Andy's friends was Anna Maria Mussolini, daughter of the somewhat infamous dictator. They played cards. His true legacy will be the vast score of everyday people who called him "Friend." People from all walks of life who will long remember joyful times listening to his tales. He loved to make people laugh and was very good at it. And then, there are those who benefitted from his remarkable philanthropic generosity. Andy demonstrated his commitment to the young people of Colorado Springs by years of service on the boards of the YMCA and The Boys and Girls Clubs. He was deeply devoted to Catholic Charities and worked diligently to raise the funds necessary to build the Marian House Soup Kitchen. Most important of all, however, are the five children, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren who will forever cherish memories of a caring, devoted patriarch who loved being a part of their lives. He was never poor again! A memorial mass will be held on Saturday, October 22 at 1pm at St Paul Catholic Church, 9 El Pomar Road, Colorado Springs. In Lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Marian House Soup Kitchen through Catholic Charities, 228 N. Cascade, Colorado SPrings, CO 80903 or CCharitiesCC.org/donate .
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