DOVER — On Monday, “Loretta” returned for a visit to Dover after an absence of more than 32 years.
“Loretta” is a 1964 Buick Electra 225, desert beige with 60,000 miles on her. She is owned by Michael Francioni of Long Island, NY, only the second person to own the vehicle.
Loretta Eleanor Deis of 708 N. Wooster Ave., Dover, purchased the car brand new in 1964 from the Weaver Motor Co. of Dover. She paid $5,000 for the vehicle, trading in a 1954 Oldsmobile 98 at the same time.
Deis died in 1988, and Francioni purchased the Buick from the estate in 1990.
“It’s been a wonderful, wonderful car,” he said. “At this point, it’s practically family. I don’t call it the Buick. It’s called Loretta. All my family and friends know that when I say Loretta, it’s that car.”
The Buick is one of eight classic cars he owns.
He has taken the car to shows all across the country and was on his way to the Buick Nationals in Chicago when he stopped in Dover on Monday to visit spots associated with Loretta Deis. He came with his friend and fellow car enthusiast David Kycia of Connecticut.
They visited her family home; Dover Burial Park, where she is buried; and the site of the Weaver Motor Co. on Front Street in Dover. They also stopped at the Reeves Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum in Dover.
Plans to come home
He had been planned on coming to Dover for several years, but the trip was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming here was on his bucket list.
Francioni has spent the last several years researching her life and has compiled a family tree for the Deis family.
“When I bought the car, I didn’t know any of the family history, but in the glove box is the dealer manual,” he said. “It has the name and address stamped in there. It had stickers from Weaver Motors. That’s how I found the history,”
Loretta was born in 1908, the daughter of Calvin and Helen DeGrief Deis. Her father owned a jewelry store. She never married. She lived with her mother on N. Wooster Avenue until her mother’s death in 1980 at age 100. The two women were members of Union Country Club and Loretta volunteered at Union Hospital.
They apparently didn’t travel much, because the Buick only had 24,000 miles on it when Francioni bought it.
He said the car is 95% original.
The only work done on it was on the front fender, the result of a minor accident Deis had on Aug. 29, 1969, when the car struck a stone wall in front of her residence.
Francioni said he has a photo of Helen Deis, but has not been able to find one for Loretta.
Anyone with information on the family is asked to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org