Delmar Leo Kolda passed away April 5, 2021 in Manteca, CA. He was 96. Born on June 23, 1924 to Joseph Frank Kolda and Laura Mae (Metcalf) Kolda in the small lumber town of Tennant, CA, the fifth of six children. He lived there until the family moved to Shasta Avenue in Weed, CA. There his music teacher encouraged his interest in playing the coronet, trumpet, and bugle. Del was also fascinated by his father's work with generators, mechanical devices, creating his own machines, and his strong work ethic. Del became a proud Eagle Scout and was the bugler for his Scout troop and for town events. After high school and at the onset of World War II he studied Maritime Engineering at the Maritime Academy in San Francisco and graduated from the new California Maritime campus in Vallejo in June of 1944. He served in the Merchant Marines ferrying troops and munitions across the Pacific for the remainder of the war.
Del was the loving husband of Maureen Roberta Kolda whose parents also lived in Weed, CA. They were introduced to each other by the parish priest at the church in Weed when they were just 15. While Del was serving in the Merchant Marines and Maureen was attending Dominican College it was clear to them that God had a plan for them together. Their first date was a dance at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. They were married November 17, 1945.
Their first home together was in San Francisco. Del considered himself a self-taught mechanical engineer and leaving the Merchant Marines was soon hired as an engineer for PG&E at Hunter's Point in San Francisco. The first six of their children were born to Del and Maureen in San Francisco, and the family were members of Holy Name of Jesus Church in San Francisco and the church’s school community.
In 1963 Del began a 24-year career as Chief Engineer at Vesper Memorial Hospital in San Leandro so the family moved to that city. Del and Maureen added one more child to the family. They belonged to Our Lady of Grace Parish in Castro Valley where Del sang in the choir and played trumpet at special Masses. Del played first chair trumpet in a community swing band (and other bands) for decades, and at special Masses. He and Maureen were spiritual sponsors for family members and friends and took many under their wings: refugees, single people without families, and those who would enjoy a family meal.
When they moved to Merced in 1997, Del served as Sacristan at St. Patrick’s Church for many years. Every day he and Maureen attended the Rosary devotional and Mass. He sang in the choir and served as cantor. Del and Maureen were proud members of the Italian Catholic Federation. Always a doer, Del helped built five homes with Habitat for Humanity until he was in his 90s. Del also found a home in Merced College Community Band, playing at many civic events. Among his favorite musical memories was playing trumpet in community bands with grandchildren.
Del once wrote that the gutsiest thing he ever did was to add onto their small San Francisco home to accommodate his big family. “After saying that,” he realized, " the real gutsiest thing was raising a family of seven children." He loved building, turning wood on a lathe, fishing, camping with the family, and playing Scrabble ruthlessly.
Del was preceded in death by his wife of 75 years Maureen, brothers James (Bill) Kolda and Joseph Kolda, sisters Vinette (Kolda) Frasier and Josephine Kolda, daughter-in-law Susan Figgemeier, and son-in-law Louis Castello. He is survived by his brother Frank, children Steve (Mary Anne), Mary Castello, Richard Kolda (Kim), Catherine Strommen (Curt), Theresa Poole (Robert), Peter Kolda (Marie), and John Kolda (Chrissy). He also leaves 19 grandchildren and soon-to-be 31 great-grandchildren, a total of over 100 descendants and spouses, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Del will be remembered for his passionate devotion to his wife, to his family, and above all to his faith. His hard work, inventiveness, love of music, and prayerful holiness will be deeply missed but remembered with great affection at every family gathering.