Rockford business owner, bandleader, and local television icon Al Grace has died. He was 98. Grace owned Al Grace Appliance in Rockford and was known for the big personality he showed off in his wacky commercials, which ended with the tagline “Appliances…and other neat shtuff.”
Born Alfonso Graceffa in Sicily, he arrived in the U.S. with his family during the Great Depression. A graduate of Rockford High School, he picked up a bugle at Camp Grant during World War II, a talent that eventually led to the formation of his own musical act. “The Al Grace Orchestra” was a popular regional dance band from the mid-1940s into the 1960s.
Al Grace Appliance & TV opened in 1962 on 9th St. in Rockford, expanded, relocated to Riverside Blvd., survived the big box store boom, and is still open today.
Grace starred in his own TV and radio commercials, often bringing in local celebrities to yuk it up on-screen. One long-running theme was his pronunciation of his annual “Peanut Sale.”
Grace and his wife Marie had three children. She died in 2004.
Grace’s funeral mass will be held Thursday morning at the church he attended, Holy Family in Rockford.