Friday, December 22, 2017

The Mystique of Quinnipiac Cemetery

This post was written during the late summer to early autumn of 2017 and is published posthumously.

Recorded history indicates that until 1733 there was only one cemetery in Southington:  Burying Grounds Hill. In 1726, the founders of the United Church of Christ in Southington and the State, built a Meeting House, designating it later as the town’s burial ground. Today that site is known as Oak Hill Cemetery.

Forty years later, upon the death of Martha Wheadan Barnes in 1773, Stephen Barnes arranged for her burial at that cemetery. But, on the day of the funeral there was a major snow storm resulting in severely blocked traffic between the Barnes residence in Plantsville and the town’s only cemetery... Oak Hill.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Richard Fortunato 1929-2017

SOUTHINGTON - Richard "Dick" Fortunato, 88, of Southington, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, peacefully surrounded by his famiy at his home. He was the husband of Grace Rose (Mannino) Fortunato for 65 years.

Dick was born on June 17, 1929, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of the late Vincent J. and Mafalda (DeRosa) Fortunato. He was a student of Georgetown University and a graduate of New York University. Dick was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, where he served as a lieutenant in the Signal Corps. Following his service, he joined Seiko Corporation, where he worked for over 20 years, ultimately as a vice president of marketing and sales. After his retirement, Dick began writing for several different publications, and this became his passion. He was a parishioner at St. Dominic Church and was very committed to supporting the church and the St. Dominic community. He was actively involved with Bread for Life, STEPS, United Way of Southington, Southington Community Services, and Relay for Life, and he was widely recognized for his services to the community. He also served on the Board of Directors and taught computer classes at the Calendar House of Southington. He was a proud member and fourth degree knight of the Knights of Columbus Isabella Council 15, and the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72.

In addition to his wife, Grace, he is survived by his five sons, Vincent Fortunato and wife, Karen, of Kensington, Joseph Fortunato, Richard Fortunato and wife, Deborah, of Cromwell, Robert Fortunato and wife, Lizette, of Bridgeport, and Stephen Fortunato and wife, Karen, of Farmington; and his cherished grandchildren, Gregory, Lindsey and husband, Robert, and Allison. He also leaves a sister, Ann Marie Rumpke, of Hempstead, N.Y.; and many beloved nieces, nephews; and cousins. He was predeceased by two brothers, Alfred and Vincent Fortunato.

A Memorial Mass will be held on Friday, Dec. 22, at St. Dominic Church, 1050 Flanders Road, Southington, at 10 a.m. Burial will be at the convenience of the family. Calling hours will be on Thursday, Dec. 21, at the DellaVecchia Funeral Home, 211 N. Main St., Southington, from 5 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Dick's memory to St. Dominic Church, 1050 Flanders Road, Southington, CT 06489, The United Way of Southington, P.O. Box 546, Southington CT 06489, or Bread for Life, PO Box 925, Southington, CT 06489. For online condolences and directions please visit

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Camp Sloper Now Happening

The staff at the YMCA Camp Sloper is enthused about having a renowned International Counselor like Chloe Chee join them this summer as one of their counselors.

And, from the smiles on the faces of the 8th and 9th graders surrounding Chloe in this photo, so are they.  Chloe Chee returns to Camp Sloper for a second go around in this role here in Connecticut. 

From the town of Singapore in Singapore, Chloe is a University of London student studying International Relations. Upon completing her degree, and coupled with her existing degree in Communications (from Ngee Ann Polytechnic), Chloe plans to work in International Media. She explained that her exposure to the current political environment in the United States will help prepare her for career and in international media.

Chloe has visited America five times seeing the US West Coast once, as a child, followed by trips to Florida, Chicago, and her two recent visits to YMCA Camp Sloper in Southington, Connecticut.

Chloe, who resides in the town of Singapore, is a University of London student training and studying International Relations.

Comparing the United States to Singapore, Chloe notes similarities between the U.S. and Singapore. The two countries have been largely pioneered and developed by enterprising immigrants who ultimately helped build a great economy in each of their thriving societies. 

Visit Camp Sloper and check out this beautiful facility, its camp grounds, the lake, and the pavilions enjoyed by our youth in healthy educational and athletic activities. 

Camp Sloper Library 
This month at camp, Chloe is working with a group of seven trailblazer girls entering grades 8 and 9. She chose this age group because she enjoyed working with them last summer. This year, during preview week she had the opportunity to try something new and work with a younger group. Having enjoyed the experience she says, "I may go back to work with the younger kids on the Sloper ‘East Coast’, who knows!."

Camp Sloper Railway

When asked to compare what camp is like in Singapore, Chloe explained that children do not get a summer break, so camps are limited to one-week vacation periods. In Singapore, Chloe worked with an indoor church camp. She pointed out that YMCA Camp Sloper is significantly more spacious and features more activities such as swimming hiking.

Chloe’s favorite thing about YMCA camp Sloper is how much space there is and Sloper Pond. Chloe explained that in contrast, Singapore is mostly buildings. In a comparison of the U.S. to Singapore, Chloe explained that “Both countries are comprised of immigrants and are in that way very similar.” She continued “Singapore is very westernized, but the culture in the United States is still more outspoken than back home in Singapore.”

Defendeers first ever event at Camp Sloper

YMCA Marketing Director, Brittany L. Tripp stated that there is still time to sign up for YMCA Camp Sloper sessions 3 and 4. Visit for details as points out that the Southington-Chesh ire Community facilities are for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. 

Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA Developme Director , Shannon Eterginio, states that the YMCA facilities engage men, women and children – regardless of age, income

or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in our communities, the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA was established in 1928 and has the long- standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. YMCA membership, camps, programs, and child care are welcoming, inclusive and open to all regardless of income. For more information, visit
First Campers 2016 Camp
SloperL Jenna and Emily
Hebert with Camp Director,
Shane Altwies

4th Graders Learn STEM

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Race4Chase set August 5 at YMCA Camp Sloper - 500 plus kids participating

August 5 at Camp Sloper
“I am truly inspired, humbled, thankful, validated and amazed,” said John Myers, Executive Director of the Southington-Cheshire Communities YMCA. “And those are just some of the emotions I felt while going through the recent Race4Chase, 26 Day-4 Miles Per Day, $10,000 Challenge.

Running, walking, biking, swimming, often with Myers, they raised over $15,000! 

True to Southington form, when there's a cause that resonates and makes an impact on our local children and families, our communities rise to the challenge.”  

On August  5th some 500 five hundred young  triathletes will demonstrate their skills at the CT finale at Southington’s YMCA Camp Sloper. This year the number of program sites increased by five: three in South Carolina and two in Rhode Island for a total of 20 including 15 in Connecticut, which each USAT-sanctioned triathlon race in their respective states.

“This year, our 4th consecutive in hosting the state finals in Southington, we had 31 youngsters in our local 6-week training program”, YMCA Community Development Director Shannon Eterginio said.

The goal-oriented summer program offers boys and girls expert instruction in swimming, cycling, running, strength training and flexibility while teaching them the fundamentals of good nutrition, under the supportive guidance of coaches, lifeguards and instructors.

Eterginio noted: “Our triathletes are on site from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m., rain or shine. They train in the swimming pool, on bikes and running.”  Health & Wellness Coordinator, Jolene Miceli, said. “We make it fun for the kids with creative training techniques, e.g. playing  games as they sprint. Training becomes fun.”  

Speakers inspire the kids: SPD Officer, Christopher Lamarre talked to them about bicycling safety, etiquette and the importance of wearing a helmet. Carina Halloran, a two-time IRONMAN® competitor, talked to the kids about working hard, but also having fun as she shared some of her IRONMAN experience, showing them her first wet-suit, a few of her medals and the importance of eating right. 

The Race4Chase Youth Triathlon program was developed by the family of Chase Kowalski, who was tragically killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. Spearheaded by Chase’s mother, Rebecca, the program provides kids ages 6 to 12 with a safe, healthy non-competitive environment to discover the sport of triathlon, bringing together kids from diverse backgrounds.

Incredibly committed to this program, Myers pointed out that 100% of the funding comes from the community, e.g. on learning that one young participant didn’t have a bike, Deputy Chief William Palmieri, he arrived the next day with a brand new bike for that child to ride!  His own contribution. Another huge gift: TOPS IGA in Plantsville donated healthy snacks and drinks for the children.

Columnist and community service consultant Dick Fortunato welcomes comments at

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Enjoying Summer's Happiest Times: Plus more In and Around Town News Items

Expanded version of Appleseed column of Friday, July 14, 2017 as published in the Southington Citizen July 14, 2017

What joy summer vacations can be! Even a brief weekend or occasional time out for R & R.

All the more to enjoy on those happy, mildly warm and sunny New England days.
I think the summer pace effectively reduces the stress of our year-round labors and pursuits, enhancing our energy reserves while nurturing our physical, mental and spiritual health.

I feel the stress myself, even now ... in my retirement years of activity ... which have been focused on promoting community and church service,  it has also opened many doors to me for my passion for writing. 

Important though to tell the stories of people taking personal responsibility for social, civic and charitable service, the rewarding labors for pro-bono work can also be stressful. 

But in the past month, I have enjoyed some “time out” for truly happy moments.
It began on the June 17th weekend on my birthday and Father’s Day.  

Our children and grandchildren gathered at the deck and pool of one of their homes. 

During the aperitifs, both solid and liquid, and a lot of cross conversation, a huge outdoor culinary operation was unveiled by my hosting son and daughter-in-law. The tempting aromas of smoking ribs filled the air, exciting our salivary juices.

With the smoked meat as the center piece, a procession of fruit, veggies, corn, salads and other accoutrements filled the outdoor tables decorated in birthday pageantry.

It was too much of an elegant outdoor dining experience to be referred to as a picnic and the on and off rain was too scattered to put a damper on things as we took refuge under the patio and deck umbrellas as needed.

Well, the food was absolutely superb. But the best was yet to come when another parade of gifts made their way to the table during coffee and simply lucious desserts. All this careful planning for grandma Grace and me to celebrate a man of as many years as the key board on a grand piano!  As the gifts were opened it was clear that Vince and Karen, Rich and Deb, Rob and Lizette, plus grandchildren Lindsey and Robert Todisco and Allie had planned the gifts together with the idea of helping the 'old man' re-build his wardrobe since the parting of 60 some lbs. (No they never call me the old man').

But the real clincher for me that day was the reading of personal expressions of appreciation and love of each family member had written. I loved it and they loved doing it. I sailed home that evening on a white cloud.

Wait, there's a second part to this story...

My grandson, Greg, had been out of town that weekend so he was not available for the aforementioned festivities. But not without a plan on his part. 

Promptly he texted me on Monday: “How about dinner this week, grandpa?” (We get together that way regularly.)  
So, next day, Greg pulls up in front of my house to pick me up in his vintage BMW Roadster.  "How about a tour with the top down before dinner?" I managed to get into the passenger seat. Top down, we toured the quiet countrified roads, hills and curves surrounding the reservoirs, Crescent Lake and the apple orchards, moving along with gritty but legal velocity.

My first ride ever in that rugged red roadster! Sensational! My favorite driver and the wind in my thin wavy hair, my emotions soared as we rounded the rises and twists in six gears, enjoying the magnificent vista.

Bill Close, Founder of Close Harbor Sea Food
Arriving at Close HarborSeafood Restaurant on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike in Plantsville, one of our favorite dining spots, we entered and promptly encountered Bill Close. He introduced his daughter, Lisa Onofri who, since the restaurant was recently re-built, is now the owner-operator, in a partnership with her brother Rick.

As always, our dinner was a culinary treat, kudos to Chef Frank and the impeccable service of Jackie, our delightful waitress. We decided to dine al fresco ...  good choice for that cool summer evening .. 

Now, I never claimed to be a proper food critic, so I will wisely side-step providing a professional culinary review here. However, I will tell you that with waitress, Jackie's impeccable service and guidance, I thoroughly enjoyed a very light, broiled piece of Icelandic Cod fish over a bed of Cannelini Beans cooled to a paste with garlic, shallots and a red wine vinegar and lemon dressing. An epicurean delight!  Meanwhile, Greg ordered fresh flounder wrapped around stuffed crabmeat over a bed of spinach with baked potato. The house salad with champagne vinaigrette was a perfect touch. 

Now, I had my mind on sampling some shell fish on the half shell even when we arrived so we both proceeded to enjoy the fresh cold flavor of a couple of blue point oysters each.   

Towards the end of the meal, Lisa and Jackie joined us for some light conversation. That’s when I spied Greg signing the meal check across the table. “What are you doing Greg?” 

“It’s your birthday, Grandpa. Happy Birthday”.  Proudly, I hugged him.

Enjoy the rest of your summer days and luxuriate in the company of those nearest and dearest and dearest to you. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

4 to be honored by Knights of Columbus for 2017 Catholic Citizenship Awards

Five to be Honored by the Southington Knights of Columbus Isabella Assembly 122 for the  2017  Catholic Citizenship Award for their many years of faithful service to their Church and Civic Communities.

Awards Reception at Noon followed by Luncheon at 1 pm on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at
the Hawk's Landing Club.

Contact Phil Mazzati at 860-276-8228 or 203-395-4381 or via email at   $32.00 p/p.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Mother's Day

The many phases and faces of Mother's Day

Today is Mother’s Day. I thought I’d assume a fresh view of this day, a different approach from the historic aspects of this American holiday or the shopping events in which many are immersed. Not that “mom” doesn’t deserve the attention. But, in talking to those in my circles this past week, what particularly caught my attention was that our personal Mother’s Day experiences are not all alike.

Neither are all mothers or maternal relationships the same. I invite you to take a trip down memory lane to your childhood. What do you remember of Mother’s Day traditions? Compare that with your Mother’s Day activities today in your adult or advanced years.

I’ll start with a glimpse of my own boyhood at my maternal grandmother’s huge dining room table on that special day. After church, my parents and their siblings gathered at grandma’s house bearing flowers, plants, pastry, candy and all sorts of gifts. We’d then join in a big Italian Sunday dinner. Cooking was a really big operation then. Grandma had seven daughters and a son but she was in charge of the cooking. As the years went by, she would focus on the supervision of her daughters, ensuring that her plans were properly executed. But it was always her kitchen. Oops. Scusi, I meant to say, cucina!

This took place during the ‘30s and early WWII years in an Italian-American family in Brooklyn, NY.

As I grew up, we held onto many of those traditions, though gradually easing up on the work for my mother with barbecues we prepared, always bringing the traditional gifts.

Later with five children of our own, all males, including the family dog, would provide age and species appropriate assistance in rising early and preparing breakfast for my wife, their mom.

As the years rolled by, habits and culture changed. Our children began taking their mom out to dinner. In the past 25 years, they have organized a brunch at home or at a restaurant, where all of us can be together and none of us have to do the work. Flowers, plants, special cards, and gifts continue to be fun for all. We especially enjoy now having our now adult grandchildren with us.

Through stories others have told me, it is clear that American family traditions of Mother’s Day vary based somewhat on region of origin and/or ancestral ethnicity.

Finally, I thought of motherhood today in our third millennium. Not to wax affectedly, but to keep in mind the reality of the diverse situations of women today, my thoughts turned to those with biological or adopted children; single, working, professional and breadwinner moms; foster mothers and grandmothers or relatives raising children without a parent. This aroused in me a renewed esteem for all mothers and would-be mothers in this world, the human source of our species.

Can’t resist mentioning the connection between mothers, as the ‘root source’ of all us, and how that relates to Appleseed, the name I chose for this column, representing the significance of apple seeds and apples, a source of Southington’s historic roots here in Apple Valley.

Columnist and community service advocate Dick Fortunato welcomes comments at

Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the Light Side of Mother's Day Thoughts

Enjoy and Happy Mothers Day to you all!

Second-grade school children's answers to:
Why God Made Moms  

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you Your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related!
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be the boss, but she has to because dad's such a goofball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between Moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but Moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleepover at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mom perfect?
1. On the inside, she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.