At age 91, Mario Figone still got up every morning to help open his tavern, Mario & John's, a landmark watering hole in Petaluma.

"He'd go the bar every morning at 6:30," said his son, Donnie Figone of Petaluma. "He mopped the floor, then came home and had lunch. He'd come back at 3:30 every day and stay 'til 5, maybe have a couple glasses of wine and go home and eat."

On Monday, he decided he'd just stay home and died that night, Donnie Figone said.

"We were so lucky, at 91, he was still in good shape," is son said. "We have all those good memories."

Born in 1925 in Colma to Italian immigrants Giovanni and Victoria Figone, Mario and the family moved to Petaluma when he was 7 to be near other relatives.

After attending grammar school and high school in Petaluma, he joined the Army during World War II, returning home in 1946.

His father ran a Petaluma garbage company in the early days and made his collections from a horse-drawn wagon, hauling the waste to a disposal site just outside of town down Lakeville Road.

Giovanni Figone bought several parcels of land on Wilson Street and in 1929 acquired the lot at 317 Wilson where he built the family house.

After Mario Figone returned from his Army service, he and his brother, John, at their mother's suggestion, took over a former Wilson Street grocery store and named it Figone's. A few months later, they took over their stepfather's bar next door, renaming it after themselves.

Mario & John's Tavern on East D Street at Wilson is one of the old-school taverns in a town steeped with historic bars and speakeasies.

At one time, the brothers also ran a nursery across the street, but sold it years ago.

In 2006, more than 300 friends gathered for a combined birthday party for Mario and 60th anniversary for the tavern.

"He was always good to all of us, always there for us," said Donnie Figone. "All of his customers, he really loved them, thought of them as family.

"He wasn't a flamboyant man, but he had a wit about him."

The bar will be closed Friday out of respect for his life.

Mario Figone loved baseball and football and played first base for nine years with the Petaluma Leghorns, who played mostly home games against top-flight semi-pro teams from San Francisco.

In 1957, Figone, Don Noriel, Frenchy Mazza and others created Petaluma's first Little League for youth baseball players.

In addition to his son, Donnie; Figone is survived by another son, John Figone, of of Petaluma; a sister, Louise Armstrong of Petaluma; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was married to the late Lillian Figone for 57 years.

Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today at Parent-Sorensen Mortuary & Crematory, 850 Keokuk St., Petaluma.

Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Petaluma with entombment at Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Petaluma, 416 Payran St., Petaluma.

— Lori A. Carter