Born in Santa Rosa in 1925, Don Mallory became a man while working at his family’s downtown auto parts, repair and machine shop, Mallory Bros. Then all his life he fixed and built and enhanced and invented things.
The perpetually cheery and enterprising World War II veteran was approaching 90 when he hired on as the dining room host at the Chick-fil-A restaurant across from Santa Rosa Junior College. There he noted how very often the trash cans had to be emptied of bulky paper cups, plates, wrappers and such.
Mallory went to work designing and perfecting a compacting tool — the BAM-BAM — that allows for fewer employee trips to the dumpster. Today Mallory’s hand-held refuse compressor is used at several Chick-fil-A restaurants and is part of his legacy.
The father of seven, grandfather of 15, great-grandfather of 24 and great-great-grandfather of three, with a fourth on the way, died at his Santa Rosa home on New Year’s Day. He was 91.
At one point amid his final hours, daughter Cynthia Ann Humphrey assured him that she and her husband, Steve, would take up his effort to get the BAM-BAM into more fast-food restaurants.
Humphrey said her dad replied, “Oh, good. That will be good.”
It was 1939 and Don Mallory was 14 when he took his place at Mallory Bros., a wrecking yard and all-things-automotive enterprise founded in 1906 on Second Street, where the transit mall is now. It was run at the time by Mallory’s father, John “J.K.” Mallory, and two of the senior Mallory’s brothers.
By the time Don Mallory was 15 and a student at Santa Rosa High, he was driving a Mallory Bros. parts delivery truck throughout the region. Wiry and restless, he also ran on the school’s track team.
World War II raged when he graduated in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, which utilized his substantial mechanical experience by making him an aviation machinist.
In 1944, Mallory married Betty Glenn Parker of Yreka, whom he’d loved since they met as teens at a Christian revival in St. Helena. They celebrated their 72nd anniversary this past June. After the war, the couple returned to Santa Rosa and Don Mallory and his brothers, Kirby and Odell, bought Mallory Bros. from their father and uncles.
Mallory Bros. was an innovative and diverse enterprise until a variety of forces put it out of business in 1966. Don Mallory turned his energies to land development and property management, and for a time supervised building maintenance at the Christian Life Center, now the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. He purchased the former Lyon-Magnus maraschino cherry processing plant in Sebastopol and worked for years to convert it to a country retail center — he planned to call it Apple Sauce Alley. But it never came together.
While working in property management and development, he also bought old cars, restored them and sold them. “He was always into projects,” daughter Humphrey said.
Mallory was 74 and semi-retired when his working career came full circle. Prestige Imports of Santa Rosa hired him to pick up and deliver auto parts. That job led him to help create and operate a customers relations department at Prestige.