MELBOURNE, Fla. — Michael V. Gatto, founder of Gatto's Tires & Auto Service in Melbourne, died Feb. 11 at age 93.
He joined the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and spent three years serving in the Pacific Theater, including at the Battle of Okinawa. After the war, he enrolled in Louisiana State University where he completed his education and then went to work for Goodyear for 22 years. He eventually became sales and marketing manager for Goodyear's Kelly Springfield Tire Co. subsidiary.
In 1970, Mr. Gatto left Goodyear and purchased a tire dealership in Melbourne, which he named Gatto's Tires & Auto Service. Today the dealership has seven stores throughout Brevard County.
Mr. Gatto's daughter, Pam Gatto, has been president of the company, which also employs his grandsons Mike and Scott McHenry and grandson-in-law Mike Nevin, since 1994.
Mr. Gatto was active in several civic and local non-profit organizations, including serving as:
- president of the Eau Gallie Rotary Club;
- vice mayor of the city of Melbourne;
- president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce;
- chairman of the Melbourne Airport Authority;
- chairman of Health First;
- commodore of the Eau Gallie Yacht Club; and
- president of the Spacecoast Tiger Bay Club.
In 2000, he was honored by the Junior Achievement of East Central Florida and inducted into the Business Hall of Fame.
Mr. Gatto is survived by his wife Carole; son Ed (Kellie); daughters Pam Gatto (John Gallo) and Mimi Hammond (Greg); stepson Brett Dowden (Summer); grandchildren Mike McHenry (Beverly), Scott McHenry, Alli Nevin (Mike), Eddie Gatto, Katti Gatto and Kristina Herndon (Marc); and eight great-grandchildren.
Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 at Brownlie - Maxwell Funeral Home in Melbourne. A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated on Feb. 16 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Melbourne.