Henry Shaffer of Revere, formerly of Chelsea, died on December 24.
He was the beloved husband of the late Beatrice (Pirkovitz) Shaffer, loving son of the late Avrum and Ethel Shaffer and dear uncle of Johanna Alper and Amy Alper of Colorado, Susan Cohen of New York, Russell Pirkot of Greenfield, Donald Alper of W. Roxbury, Andy Cohen of Tennessee, Gerald Pirkot of Randolph, Murray Bass of New Jersey, Joshua Alper of Belmont and Daniel Cohen of Massachusetts.
Graveside services were held at Sharon Memorial Park, Sharon, on December 26.
Donations in Henry’s memory may be made to the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, 165 Captains Row, Chelsea, MA 02150. Torf Funeral Service 151 Washington Ave., Chelsea assisted the family with arrangements. For guest book and directions please visit www.torffuneralservice.com.
Of Lynn, formerly of Revere and Winthrop
David M. Rantz of Lynn, formerly of Winthrop and Revere, passed away on Monday, December 18. He was 82 years old.
The cherished son of the late Morris and Marjorie (Rehal) Rantz and Anne (Staretz) Rantz, he was the beloved husband of the late Marie (Blundo) Rantz, cherished father of Laura Rantz Moyer and Nadine Rantz Casey and their mother, Margaret Casey, Lisa Giambartolomei Luise and her fiancé, Michael Hayes, Diana Giambartolomei Santheson and her husband, Carl, Maria Giambartolomei Calla and her loving companion, Paulie Christie and the late Audrey Buchanan. He was the adored grandfather of 10 and great-grandfather of eight; caring brother of Lois Vasel, who was his best friend, Joan Estabrooks, Florence Hodgkins, Selma Pomeranz, and the late Harvey Fischler, Marjorie Ferrara, and Freddie Rantz. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A Memorial Service will be held in David’s honor on Saturday, December 30 at 11 a.m. in the Chapel at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett. Inurnment will follow the service. At the family’s request, please OMIT flowers, donations may be made to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute PO Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284. For directions and guestbook, please visit: www.vazzafunerals.com.
Winifred Dorothy Churchill
Lifelong member of First Congregational Church and Winnisimmet Union of Chelsea
Winifred Dorothy (King) Churchill passed away Friday morning, December 22 surrounded by her loving family. She was 85 years old.
Born in Chelsea, the daughter of the late James and Dorothy (LeGrow) King, Winifred grew up in Chelsea, attended Chelsea public schools and graduated from Chelsea High School, Class of 1950. Although Winifred received her Associate’s Degree from Salem State College, she was a homemaker all her life. She tended to her home in Everett where she lived most of her life and cared for her husband and two daughters. In her later years, she and her husband moved to Peabody.
Winifred was a lifelong member of the First Congregational Church in Chelsea, as well as the Church’s social organization, the Winnisimmet Union. She will be deeply missed by all her family and friends.
The beloved wife of Charles Robert “Bob” Churchill of Peabody with whom she shared 65 years of marriage, she was the devoted mother of Nancy Ellen DiMinico and her husband, Chris, Janet Elizabeth Herbert and her fiancé, John Vitale, all of Chelmsford and she is also lovingly survived by five grandchildren: Timothy, Christy and Lauren DiMinico, Katherine Herbert Muniz and her husband Derrick and Rachel Herbert, all of Chelmsford.
Funeral services will be conducted at the First Congregational Church, 26 County Road, Chelsea on Friday, December 29 at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend. Visiting hours will be held at the Carafa Family Funeral Home, 389 Washington Avenue, Chelsea today, Thursday, from 4 to 8 p.m. Interment will be in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett.
The holidays present a unique month-long time of the year when people often can find themselves in a much different pattern than during the rest of the year. Such changes can often lead to unhealthy behaviors or illnesses – and triggers for those struggling with overeating disorders or substance use disorders.
Going into the holidays with a plan and a watchful eye – from the dinner table to the kids’ toys – is a necessity.
To learn how to stay healthy during this unique time of year, why not ask the best?
Dr. David Roll, a primary care physician for all ages and the medical director at the CHA Revere and CHA Everett Primary Care practices, was recently named on of the region’s Top Doctors in the Boston Magazine December issue. The annual list looks at top doctors in every specialty and in primary care as well.
Roll said he is fortunate to have a good team around him, and that is crucial in medical care delivery.
“I’m very fortunate to have a great team in Cambridge Health Alliance and at our clinics in Everett and Revere, with a great range of physicians, physician assistants, nurses and other staff to help improve the health of our communities,” he said. “Medicine today is a team sport and there are no top doctors without top teams.”
From the area’s Top Doctor, here are some things to watch for on the holidays as it relates to one’s health.
Q: Many people find it hard to stay healthy over the holidays. There are numerous flus, colds and other maladies that are brought into parties and celebrations. What are the best precautions to take over the holidays?
A: I make sure everyone in my family gets a flu shot and I advise all my patients to do the same. It’s not possible to get the flu from the shots we use today. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the kids and grandparents in your family, who could end up in the hospital if they get the flu from you. Also, cover your cough and wash your hands frequently – simple but important.
Q: Food and the holidays are literally tied at the hip. For a lot of people, keeping to a diet or keeping a healthy eating pattern is difficult. What do you recommend?
A: It’s all about balance. If you’re snacking more during the day, take a small plate for dinner. If you’re planning for a big holiday meal, eat light and drink lots of water throughout the day. If you want to try everything, take a bite or two of each dish.
Q: Everyone always talks about post-holiday depression. Is that really a thing? If so, how can people prepare for it and do they need to?
A: I think it’s real. Sometimes people feel there’s nothing to look forward to after a long-awaited vacation and time with family. One solution is to schedule an event or a long weekend two or three weeks after the holiday – something else to look forward to. As the new year approaches, you might also want to think about scheduling your annual physical for 2018, to talk with your care team or schedule any health screenings that are overdue.
Q: Is it an old wives tale that one can get sick by going out in the cold without a hat and coat, or is there some medical soundness to that old claim?
A: It’s mostly myth. Cold temperatures and dry air make a slightly more hospitable environment for some viruses in your nose and throat. But colds are caused by viruses and the main reason people get more colds in the winter is spending more time indoors with other people.
Q: What are some of the common holiday-associated problems that patients have presented to you and your staff over the years?
A: This time of year we see a lot of people worried about a persistent cough. Most people aren’t aware that the average duration of a cough is about 18 days. Usually it can be controlled with home remedies or over-the-counter medications, and it rarely requires antibiotics. At the CHA Revere Care Center, we offer sick visits Monday-Friday and Saturdays until 1 p.m., to help people who need to been seen for an illness.
Q: Are there signs that parents should watch for in their children both before, during and after the holidays?
A: Aside from the usual respiratory and stomach viruses, this is the time of year when food, fuel, and housing insecurity have their sharpest sting, and disproportionately affect our most vulnerable patients, especially the young and the old. For those who can, it’s a great time to think about donating to local food pantries and supporting the services that are most needed in the winter.
Q: Substance abuse can invade the holidays for some people. How do you address that with patients who struggle with substance use disorders?
A: If you’re in recovery, make a party plan in advance for those high-risk or high-stress occasions: Go late, leave early, and take a sober friend along. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The assistance you need may be as close as a friend, a coworker, your doctor’s office at Cambridge Health Alliance, or one of our partners in the community.
Q: There are a lot of toys and gifts that can be harmful or dangerous to children. Should parents think about toy safety over the holidays, or is that overdoing it?
A: Well-meaning family and friends often give gifts that are not appropriate to a child’s age. Age limits are on toys for a reason, mostly to prevent younger children from choking on small parts. In the end, there is no substitute for parental supervision, especially with small children and small toys. Also, if you gift a bike or skateboard, buy the protective gear to go with it.
Q: What is your favorite holiday treat?
A: I love date bars, just like my mother used to make. It’s one of those rich treats you have to balance with good eating, especially if you can’t resist a second trip to the dessert tray.
The Chelsea 9-1-1 Dispatchers Union made a public apology Monday night, Dec. 4, at the City Council meeting to former Assistant Emergency Management Director Robert Verdone for issuing a No Confidence Vote against him on Oct. 1, 2016.
Verdone was part of a management group in Chelsea EMS department that the union was very dissatisfied with over a number of years, but the union said Monday that Verdone was new and shouldn’t have been characterized with the rest of the management group.
It appeared that the No Confidence Vote still stood for Director Allan Alpert.
Dispatcher Paul Koolloian told the Council that since the vote, Verdone has shown he is knowledgeable and the union grew to appreciate and have confidence in his abilities.
“We stand firmly by our vote of No Confidence, but after careful consideration and reflection, we are in agreement to acknowledge that affixing Assistant Director Verdone’s name to the Letter of No Confidence was a poor decision on our part,” Koolloian said. “At the time the letter was drafted, Assistant Director Verdone was fairly new in his position and unfamiliar to the past history concerning several issues that plagued our Communications Center, most notably a continual pattern of harassment, second guessing and blatant disregard for our well- being several years prior to his arrival. Simply put, we got it wrong (with Verdone).”
Most notably, the union said they demonstrated poor judgment in including him, as it could and will have dire consequences for his future employment. Koolloian said they didn’t want to penalize Verdone for things done before his tenure.
It has been rumored that Verdone has been hired or is a finalist for the director’s position of a regional EMS center in Foxboro.
“There is no plausible excuse for our delay to publicly communicate this message,” said Koolloian. “We apologized from the bottom of our hearts for any inconvenience we may have caused you and your family and most importantly any damage we may have caused to your credibility and reputation.”
Robert A. Punch, Jr., passed away on Wednesday, August 30 at the Fairhaven Healthcare Center in Lowell where he has been receiving supportive care for the past year. He was 75 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, he was a son of the late Robert A., Sr. and Ellen (Sullivan) Punch. He attended local schools and graduated from Chelsea High School, Class of 1960. Robert was married for 36 years to the former Donna Henry and together they raised their family in Chelsea for most of that time.
Robert worked for the City of Chelsea as a heavy equipment operator with the local DPW. He was medically disabled and retired in 1998.
After his retirement, he and his wife Donna relocated to Seabrook, NH and resided there for 15 years. Donna passed away four years ago and Robert then took residence with his daughter, Michelle in Dracut before going to Fairhaven. Robert was an avid reader, he enjoyed bowling and relished the time he had living and enjoying the company of his grandchildren.
In addition to his beloved wife, Donna and his parents, he was also predeceased by a daughter, Jennifer Punch. He is survived by his remaining beloved children; Michelle A. Thornton and her husband, William of San Antonio, TX, Brian Punch of Astoria, NY, Jimmy Doucette of Florida and Michael Punch of Massachusetts.
Arrangements were by the Frank A. Welsh and Sons Funeral Home, Chelsea. A memorial service will be announced to be held at a future date; relatives and friends will be most kindly welcomed to attend.
Donations in his memory may be made to the American Diabetes Assoc.
Jeannette ‘Janet’ Nemerowski
Worked at Chelsea City Hall Welfare Office
Jeannette “Janet” (Pucko) Nemerowski passed away Wednesday morning, August 30 in the peaceful surroundings of her Chelsea home. She was 87 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, she was a daughter of the late Zygismund and Bronislawa “Bernice” (Galazka) Pucko. She attended St. Stanislaus Parochial School and graduated from Chelsea High School. Janet wed Roman J. “Ray” Nemerowski and raised four children. She also worked outside of her home in city hall in the Chelsea Welfare Office. She was a member and past officer of the former PAV Ladies Aux. Post 13 in Chelsea and enjoyed her time at the Chelsea Senior Center playing Bingo, Bocce and Bowling. She also assisted as a Chelsea Election Poll Worker. She enjoyed following the Red Sox and Patriots, cheering for “Her Boys” when they won or jeering “Those Bums” when they lost.
Janet was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Ray in 1988 and last year by her son, Michael Nemerowski. She is survived by her loving children; Peter Nemerowski and Elaine Boudreau, both of Chelsea, Stanley Nemerowski of Gilford, NH, and Michael’s wife, Lynne Nemerowski of Medfield, her adoring grandchildren: Christine Bellotti and Samantha Nemerowsk and her dear sister, Claire Kwiatkowski and her husband, Chester of Wilmington. She is also survived by several cousins, many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Funeral arrangements were by the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home, Chelsea. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the American Diabetes Assoc. 260 Cochituate Rd., Framingham, MA 01701.
Antonino ‘Tom’ Sorrentino
Family man and recently retired first class barber
Antonino “Tom” Sorrentino, a Revere resident for more than 60 years, passed away on his 88th birthday, Thursday, August 31, at Winthrop Place Nursing and Living Center of Winthrop following a brief illness.
Born and raised in Messina, Sicily, Italy, the family came to the USA, when Mr. Sorrentino was 10 years old and settled in Somerville and where “Tom” lived and was educated. He later moved to the Point of Pines Section of Revere for more than 60 years.
“Tom” began working as a barber at the hand of his older brother at the age of 13 in Boston. The brothers worked for the original Paul’s Barber Shop of Boston. Subsequently, they bought the shop and set up a chair in the “Financial District” of Boston. Another move brought the brothers to Chelsea, where they continued their business on Washington Avenue for over 45 years.
After Tom’s brother passed, he moved to Revere for the last 10 years of his working career whereupon his grandson, Shawn A. Sorrentino took over the family business until selling the established business in 2000.
Mr. Sorrentino would want to be remembered firstly, as the “quintessence” of a “family man,” a loving husband, dad, grandfather, brother and uncle. However and second only, as a classic hair-stylist and first class barber. He would often entertain his family with stories from the past, especially those regarding the many politicians and celebrities he served as clients over the years.
On December 8, 2003, Mr. Sorrentino lost the love of his life, his beloved and cherished wife, Eva F. (Sarto) Sorrentino. “Tom” continued the time honored and loving tradition of cooking and entertaining his large Italian family, especially on Sundays and holidays. He did this with zest and zeal until his health began to fail.
He was the devoted father of Richard A. Sorrentino and his wife, Doris N. “Darcy” (Simpson) Sorrentino of Revere and Anthony V. Sorrentino and his wife, Magaret “Peggy” Sorrentino of Melrose; the adored grandfather of Richard A. Sorrentino II and his wife, Michelle of Tewksury,, Shawn A. Sorrentino and his fiancée, Carla D’Errico of Winthrop, Michael J. Sorrentino and his fiancée, Diana DeLauri of Wakefield, Michelle R. and Paul A. Sorrentino, both of Melrose. He is also lovingly survived by six great grandchildren: Ryan A., Evan J., Amaya E., Cameron A. Olivia R. and Lilliana M. Sorrentino and by many cherished nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Vertuccio & Smith Home for Funerals, Revere. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Residents’ Activities Fund at the “Prospect House,” 420 Reservoir Avenue, Revere, MA 02151. For additional information, please visit: www.vertuccioandsmith.com
Of Revere, formerly of Chelsea
Toni M. Flaherty of Revere, formerly of Chelsea, died unexpectedly at the age of 36 on August 31.
The beloved daughter of the late Michael and Marie “Honey” (Strazzulla) and the cherished granddaughter of Marie “Nonny” DeFazio of Revere, formerly of the North End, she is also survived by many loving aunts, uncles cousins and friends.
Funeral arrangements were by the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home, (Orient Heights ) East Boston. Cremation was private. For more information, please visit www.ruggieromh.com
Lifelong Chelsea resident
John J. Covino, a lifelong resident of Chelsea, passed away early on Saturday morning, August 26 at the Massachusetts General Hospital after a long and extended battle with kidney disease. He was 67 years old.
John, who received his education in the Chelsea School System, was an avid supporter of the Boston Red Sox and a lover of Oldies music. During his working years, which preceded his years of illness, John worked at the Chelsea Memorial Hospital in the kitchen for over 10 years and after its closing, worked for another number of years in the shipping and receiving department at Standard Box Company. In his spare time, he enjoyed his friends and the social events at the St. Andrews, BBC club.
He was the devoted son of the late Nicholas and Elizabeth (Hill) Covino, beloved brother of Anthony T. Covino and his wife, Donna of Winthrop and the late Bernard Covino and his surviving wife, Laura of Chelsea and Rosemarie Pawlak and her late husband, John. He is also lovingly survived by many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
At his request, all services were private. Expressions of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the American Kidney Foundation at www.kidneyfund.org
Mrs. Alejandrina Rodriguez, a long-standing Chelsea resident and community activist, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Multidisciplinary Studies degree from Cambridge College recently.Her family wished her well and said they are very proud of her achievement. “I am so grateful to have such a blessing in my mother,” said the family. “She has been a role model for so many people in her community, including myself. It is to admire how she has achieved all these goals. Because of her, I am who she wants me to be, an educator. I have seen her work all these years, working day and night, striving to get to her classes after work, getting home late at night. She is unstoppable. She deserves the degree that she has obtained with all her effort. My mother is #1.”
On July 16, a Chelsea Police officer was dispatched to Chelsea Police Headquarters for a report of a past assault. The officer spoke with the reporting party/victim. According to victim, he was in the area of Clark Avenue and Eleanor Street when he was approached by a male known to him. He stated the suspect who he knows grabbed a metal object and began to assault him striking him in the left chest area and left upper arm.
The suspect was later apprehended and placed into custody.
Vidal Flores, 49, of 248 Parkway, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and malicious damage to a motor vehicle.
ASSAULTED PREGNANT WOMAN
On July 19, a CPD officer was flagged down by a pregnant female party who was stating that she had just been assaulted by a male and his girlfriend. The victim pointed out a male and a female, who were known to the officer.
The victim identified the two stating, “They jumped me.” The female was placed into custody and the male was summonsed into court for the assault.
The victim was reportedly eight months pregnant.
Diane Valentin, 27, of 10 Forsyth St., was charged with aggravated assault and battery on a pregnant person.
On July 18, a CPD officer was approached by a male party who stated that he was going to his backyard where a group of males were congregating. The men were drinking beers in the rear of a Shurtleff Street address and began to bother he and his young daughter. The male escorted the officer to the area, and upon coming into the driveway, the officer observed a male party well known to him who had his pants down and was about to start urinating in the driveway.
The officer placed the subject under arrest for trespassing. A warrant check revealed the subject was wanted by Immigration and Customs officials.
Rudis Garcia, 45, of Lynn, was charged with trespassing and an immigration detainer.
ROBBED ON BROADWAY
On July 23, officers responded to Washington Avenue at Cherry Street to assist a State Trooper who was detaining two male parties. Upon arriving on scene the Trooper stated a witness flagged him down and told him their friend was robbed and assaulted by two unknown male parties in front of Chung Wah Restaurant in Bellingham Square.
The Trooper was able to locate those two parties on the corner of Washington Avenue and Cherry Street.
CPD officers furthered the investigation and placed the two under arrest for unarmed robbery and assault and battery.
A warrant check revealed one of the subjects was wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Alberto Hurtado, 43, of 18 Tudor St., was charged with unarmed robbery and an immigration detainer.
Raul Romero, 33, of 4 Webster Ct., was charged with unarmed robbery.
ATTACKED WITH A CHAIR
On July 21, officers responded to a disturbance involving two parties actively fighting at 12 Hawthorne St. Upon arrival, officers separated the parties and spoke with witnesses. One of the persons involved had an arrest warrant and was placed into custody. Additionally, it was learned that he attacked two individuals with a chair.
Jorge Ruiz, 49, of Lynn, was charged with possession of a Class A drug, one warrant and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
BUSTED FOR CRACK
On July 20, members the CPD drug and vice unit placed two individuals into custody after they were observed conducting a drug transaction of crack cocaine in the area 78 Watts St.
Andrew Babigumira, 31, homeless, was charged with distribution of a Class B drug (crack) and conspiracy.
Cesar Gomez, 32, of East Boston, was charged with possession of a Class B drug (crack) and conspiracy.
The passing this past week of John C. Ligotti. known to his friends as Jack, who served for five decades as an assistant clerk and clerk-magistrate of the East Boston District Court and then was promoted to the District Court bench, marked the end of an era for long-time residents of the East Boston, Winthrop, and Revere communities.
John Ligotti’s life was a typical American immigrant success story exemplifying the values of hard work, determination, and love of family and community. Judge Ligotti was born on June 20, 1916, one of five siblings of immigrant parents who emigrated from Barrafranca, Sicily in 1912, initially taking up residence in Passaic, New Jersey before moving to the Boston area a few years thereafter.
Despite meager financial resources, Judge Ligotti worked his way through Northeastern University School of Law during the Great Depression and became one of the youngest persons ever to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam when he did so at the age of 23.
With jobs still scarce, Judge Ligotti worked as an unpaid intern in the East Boston District Court under then Clerk-Magistrate William Barker. With the help of Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, Judge Ligotti soon was named an assistant clerk-magistrate of the East Boston District Court. After rising to the position of First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate, Judge Ligotti was appointed to the Clerk-Magistrate’s position by Gov. Foster Furcolo in 1957 upon the retirement of Clerk-Magistrate Barker.
Clerk-Magistrate Ligotti was elevated to the bench of the District Court in 1974 by Governor Francis Sargent. Judge Ligotti initially served as a Special Justice of the District Court before being named to the position of First Justice of the Malden District Court, where he served until 1986 upon reaching the mandatory judicial retirement age of 70.
After his retirement, Judge Ligotti’s value and experience to the court system continued to be recognized by the Supreme Judicial Court, which appointed Judge Ligotti for a number of years as a recall justice.
Humility, wisdom, compassion, and a dedication to public service are the words that most often come to mind from those who knew, and worked with, Judge Ligotti during his 50-year tenure as a judicial officer in the Massachusetts court system, according to Sandra Caggiano, who worked in the East Boston District Court for 41 years beginning in 1967 when she was hired by Judge Ligotti and who herself eventually rose to the position of First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate under Judge Ligotti’s successor, Joseph Faretra..
“I learned from John Ligotti, as did everyone who worked for him, what it means to be a compassionate human being and what it it takes to make a man a gentleman,” said Caggiano. “He instilled in us the notion that we were to treat everybody, regardless of their station in life or where they came from, with dignity and respect.
“Judge Ligotti was fond of reading the Bible, and his approach to the job was to take care of the least among us,” continued Caggiano. “His legacy in the East Boston District Court carried over long after he had left the court and continues today. The East Boston District Court is well-known among other courts, among police, and among those who come before it as one of the best-run and most-compassionate courts in the state.”
“My uncle helped everybody who came in front of him and yet he never asked anything from anyone,” said his nephew Joseph Ligotti, who himself has served the Massachusetts judicial system with distinction for more than 50 years, most notably as an assistant clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court and currently as the Clerk-Magistrate of the Hingham District Court.
“He epitomized the concept of public service,” continued Ligotti, whose own son, Angelo, has maintained the family legacy of service in the judicial system as an assistant clerk of the Bristol Juvenile Court. “He was an incredibly humble man who never forgot where he came from. Even though he worked very hard to attain his success, he understood that not everyone had the same degree of opportunity that he had.
“He came from a loving family and what brought him the most pleasure was his own family,” added Ligotti, referring to Judge Ligotti’s four daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchild.
The words of the poet Wordsworth are apt when describing the manner in which the thousands of individuals who came before John Ligotti received the benefit of his innate kindness, compassion, and wisdom:
“That best portion of a good man’s life,
his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
Family and friends will honor Judge Ligotti’s life by gathering on Thursday, July 6, in the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home, 971 Saratoga Street (Orient Heights), East Boston, from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon, followed by a procession to Our lady of the Assumption Church, Lynnfield for a funeral Mass in celebration of the Judge’s life at 1:00 P.M. Services will conclude with Judge Ligotti being laid to rest with his beloved wife, Rose (Cavaliere),.
Lifelong Chelsea resident Mario Zullo (right) greets his friend, world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, at a Boston restaurant.
Family and friends are remembering Mario Zullo, a member of one of Chelsea’s most prominent families, as a respected business owner and a larger-than-life figure for decades who knew people from all walks of life and every corner of Chelsea.
Mr. Zullo, who had nine brothers and two sisters, died on Sept. 30, 2016 surrounded by his loving family. He was 90 years. He was the son of Christopher and Angelina Zullo.
There was a touch of irony that Mario died on the week the Jewish New Year was being observed. Growing up on Maverick Street in a city with thousands of Jewish residents, Mario had many Jewish friends who shared his love of life, knew his close-knit family well, and enjoyed the sport of boxing as much as he did.
Mario became the Chelsea connection to Rocky Marciano, the Brockton Bomber who became the heavyweight champion of the world and retired with an undefeated record. Mario served as Rocky’s publicist and confidante and the champion’s visits to Chelsea were frequent. It was Mario who brought the then-world champ Marciano to Chelsea for the Columbus Day Parade in which he and the champ occupied a convertible with then-Mayor Andrew P. Quigley.
Former heavyweight champion John Ruiz, the first Latino to win the title, also came to value Mario’s career advice and guidance.
Mario’s personality and street-smart eloquence – sometimes using Yiddish expressions – were infectious. His cleaning store, Park Cleaners, was a place to receive not only great service from Mario and his beloved wife, Elena, but to receive advice and discuss the issues of the day.
Daughter Judi Festa and her husband, William “Chuck,” and daughter Diane Zullo are proud members of the family living in Peabody. Mario’s sister, Barbara Libby, a well-known volunteer at the Chelsea Senior Center, is the lone surviving sibling.
Mario’s nieces and nephews, Angela Zullo, Michael Zullo, Richard Zullo, and twins Paul Zullo and Lisa Zullo, the children of former amateur boxing champion Michael “Mickey” Zullo and Jeanette (Fantasia) Zullo, were among the local carriers of the family’s charm, charisma, and mystique. The Zullos were generous, personable, and kind, and like their uncle and parents, the Zullo children’s warmth was genuine and welcoming to people in all communities.
Mr. Zullo had three grandchildren, Alana Rikeman, Giana Festa, and Joseph Breda.
He attended Chelsea High School and entered the U.S. Navy. He started a dry cleaning business handling the needs of the nearby Chelsea Naval Yard. He was in the dry cleaning business for decades, opening his first store in Chelsea. His store was at the corner of Park Street and Everett Avenue, just a few doors down from Kirshon Paint.
The love of his life was Elena (Cianfrocca) Zullo, who died in 2014.
“It was love at first sight,” said Judi. “They had their wedding reception at Revere City Hall. They were always together.”
Mario struck up a friendship with Rocky Marciano, who knocked out 90 percent of his opponents and held the championship from 1952 to 1956. A world-renowned figure, Rocky chose to spend a lot of his time away from the ring with Mario, whom he trusted and considered a real friend.
“Mario went to every one of his fights,” said Judi. “Rocky would train at Grossinger’s in New York and he wanted Mario to be around him.”
Part of the strong connection with Rocky was attributed to Mario’s comfortableness with people of all backgrounds.
“Mario was comfortable with people no matter what their status or caliber was,” said Judi. “When he met somebody, they wanted to be around him. The Jewish people loved him. They invited him to the synagogue and to celebrate the holidays.”
One time on a family trip to Las Vegas, Mario took a seat next to two multi-millionaires – one a businessman and the other a movie producer.
“By the time the show started, Mario had them eating out of his hand,” said his daughter. “I cannot even tell you how people just gravitated to him.”
Judi said she and her sister inherited their father’s outgoing personality and ability to connect with people. Mario was the center of attention at family gatherings, she related.
Judi said Park Cleaners became Mario’s platform, working alongside his beloved wife.
“He solved everyone’s problems at the store,” said Judi. “He made friends with everybody and knew how to make people feel important. John Ruiz became one of his buddies. Whenever you went in to the store, Mario and his wife were together. They were great dancers, too.”
Mario loved Chelsea with all his heart. “He and Andrew Quigley had a great relationship. They were very close,” said Judi. “There was a great photo in the Chelsea Record of Mario, Andrew, and Rocky riding down Broadway in a controvertible during the Columbus Day Parade.”
Mario was healthy through his later years but following a bout with pneumonia, he became a resident of a nursing home in Peabody.
“Mario’s care at the nursing home was awesome,” said Judi. “He was like the mayor of the nursing home. He would go around meeting people. I used to bring him cookies and my sister would bring him things.
“The other residents would tell me, ‘we love your father, he always has those cookies.”
From his early days on Maverick Street to the final days of a wonderful life, Mario was always giving to others and making people feel good about themselves.
That’s the Mario Zullo that Chelsea will never forget.
Carol Ann (Tedford) Parrotta of Chelsea died on June 20. The devoted wife of Nicholas Parrotta, she was the beloved mother of Elizabeth West and her husband, Christopher of Tewksbury; sister of Eileen Cronin of Chelsea and Muriel Eremka of Wilmington.
Family and friends are kindly invited to attend a Memorial Mass to be celebrated in Our Lady of Grace Church, 59 Nichols Street, Chelsea on Saturday, September 10 at 10:30 a.m. Funeral arrangements under the direction of the Smith Funeral Home. To send a message of condolence to her family, please visit: www.smithfuneralhomes.com