Carmen V. D'Anna Sr., president and chairman of Mars Super Markets Inc., died Thursday of complications of bypass surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 77 and lived in Essex.
Mr. D'Anna became president of the Dundalk-based grocery chain in 1995 after the death of his brother, Angelo D'Anna.
With his brother, Mr. D'Anna began the family-operated business in 1946 in a grocery store on Holabird Avenue in Dundalk, today the headquarters of the chain. Mars Super Markets has expanded to 15 stores with sales last year of $220 million.
The stores were named for the Mars Flying Boat, which was built during World War II at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River.
Mr. D'Anna, who was born and raised on Mulberry Street, was the son of Vincent Frettita D'Anna, who had a produce stand in Lexington Market and was known as the "Tomato King in Maryland."
Mr. D'Anna attended city schools. By the time he was a teen-ager, he was operating his own fruit and vegetable stand in Lexington Market. He worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant from the late 1930s until World War II, when he enlisted in the Navy. He served aboard the USS Dutchess during the invasion of Okinawa.
After returning home, he joined his brothers Angelo and Joseph, who owned and operated a supermarket in Dundalk. Joseph D'Anna later left the business.
It was his more outgoing brother, Angelo, who appeared in television advertisements for the store. Carmen D'Anna Sr. was a private person, a hard-working executive who arrived at his desk each day at 5 a.m.
He still personally met sales people and purchased foodstuffs for the seafood, frozen food and delicatessen departments, as he had when he was the store's executive vice president.
Mr. D'Anna was active in the Sons of Italy.
He was a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, 1704 Eastern Ave., where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, the former Kathie Dakis; five sons, Theodore D'Anna, Christopher D'Anna, Joseph D'Anna and Matthew D'Anna, all of Essex, and Carmen "Vito" D'Anna Jr. of Delta, Pa.; two daughters, Marguerite D'Anna of Pasadena and Vicki D'Anna of Brooklyn, N.Y.; two brothers, Joseph V. D'Anna of Dundalk and Anthony D'Anna of Towson; a sister, Concetta T. D'Anna of Dundalk; and six grandchildren.
Pub Date: 8/23/97