George Scinto was a policeman in Santa Rosa back when drunks often were chauffeured home in squad cars and undesirables who’d drifted into town were escorted to the outskirts and advised firmly not to drift back.
Late Police Chief Melvin “Dutch” Flohr counted on the broad and muscular Scinto, who’d played football for Santa Rosa High School and fought with the Marines in the Pacific in World War II, to defuse situations that might turn ugly.
“My dad had the toughest beat, which was downtown, graveyard,” said daughter Mary Ann Pennington of Santa Rosa.
It’s a point of pride to Pennington and her sister, Cheryl Beckwith, also of Santa Rosa, that their father also created a crosswalk monitor program and spent untold hours helping boys stay out of trouble by instructing and mentoring them inside a boxing ring.
Scinto, who left police work in his 30s and then for decades drove beer trucks, died March 21 at the age of 92.
He worked for the Santa Rosa Police Department from 1946 until 1961. The risk and prevalence of violence were far rarer then, and Scinto relished being of service to the residents of a small, tight-knit town.
He especially enjoyed giving boys an alternative to the streets by helping run the anti-delinquency boxing program. Said daughter Beckwith, “That was one thing he was very proud of, teaching those boys.”
Scinto was born late in 1924 in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, the youngest of 13 children of Italian immigrants. Nicknamed “Punkin,” he was 5 when his family moved to Santa Rosa and settled in the Little Italy section, known now as the West End/Railroad Square district.
While at Santa Rosa High, his fellow Panthers included his future wife, Ann Blazek.
“My mom was the ‘A’ student who sat in the front row and he was the ‘D’ student who sat in the back row,” Pennington said.
The two wouldn’t get together until after the war.
George Scinto graduated in 1943 and promptly enlisted in the Marine Corps. He saw combat on Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa.
Pennington said her father never spoke much of the war beyond his deep regret that he lost his closest brother, Rodney, and many fellow Marines who’d become like brothers.
With the war’s end, Scinto returned home and resumed his education at SRJC, where he also played football. He joined two of his brothers as a partner in Scinto Bros. Market at Maple and Brookwood avenues, now, for many years, the location of a 7-Eleven.
George Scinto left the market to join the SRPD. Chief Flohr gave him badge number 14.
After 15 years on the streets, Scinto decided he was ready for a change. He resigned and took a job driving trucks for the area’s Coors beer distributor. He later moved to Chet Galeazzi’s Eagle Distributing and delivered Budweiser until he retired in 1991.
“He had a fantastic retirement,” Pennington said.
She said her dad stayed busy and happy traveling, cooking and lawn bowling.
Ann, his wife of 30 years, died in 1993.
Scinto lived for a time in the Placer County town of Lincoln but returned to Santa Rosa three years ago. His daughters said he was cared for wonderfully all those years by the staff of the Canterbury Home senior residential facility.