From Ethnic Heritage Museum
Alfonso Grace (family name Graceffa) came to Rockford at age 10 with his parents Louis and Rosalie Graceffa. Alfonso graduated from Rockford Central High School in 1935. His friends called him Al and his music career started at an early age with the clarinet. After high school , Al started playing in a band while working at Nelson Knitting. When the war came he was drafted and stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington in the medical corp. He started playing trumpet and was leader of many USO bands that entertained troops.
After the war he returned to Rockford and worked as a serviceman for Wilson Electric. He resumed his role as Band Leader for the Al Grace Band. In 1947 he married Marie. This union produced three children. Al loved entertaining in Rockford every Saturday night until 1960.
In addition to Al’s love of music, he started his business Al Grace Appliance. His business grew in the area as well as his band career. The business is still operating on West Riverside Blvd., Rockford today. Customers still come into the store with an Al Grace story relating to a dance or wedding he had played.
Along the way Al got the nickname Peanut Man. Al made a niche in Rockford and continues to be remembered for sharing his music with so many. His children and grandchildren are grateful for his love and passing the importance of music on to them.
Please join us in honoring “Al Grace Man of the Year 2015” on Sunday, June 14 from 2-4 p.m. in the Lockwood Gallery of the Ethnic Heritage Museum 1129 S. Main St. Rockford, IL 61101. The program begins at 3 p.m. This museum event is free with donations accepted. The museum is handicap accessible and open every Sunday for gallery tours. Group tours may be scheduled by calling 815 962-7402.