Henry Sztencel, 76, electrical technician
Henry J. Sztencel of 51 Prospect Ridge, a retired electrical technician, died on Saturday evening, Jan. 5, at Danbury Hospital. He was 76 years old and the husband of the late Lillian Gornicz Sztencel.
Mr. Sztencel was born in New York City on Jan. 12, 1925, a son of the late Zymgund and Catherine Smerch Sztencel. He grew up in New York and attended schools there. He was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army.
Mr. Sztencel had worked in New Jersey as an electrical technician with the Bendix Corporation, which then became a part of Allied Signal.
He lived in Ramsey, N.J., for 40 years before moving to Ridgefield two years ago to live at the Prospect Ridge Congregate Housing.
Mr. Sztencel enjoyed gardening, electronics and repairs of all sorts, frequently helping neighbors. “He was often referred to as ‘Mr. Fix It’,” said his daughter, Karen Sztencel Cohen of Ridgefield. “He was always puttering around, fixing things, even at Prospect Ridge.”
“He was a youthful 76,” she added. “He had a lot of energy.”
Mr. Sztencel was the last of seven children.
Besides his daughter and her husband Howard Cohen of Ridgefield, Mr. Sztencel is survived by another daughter, Donna Taskalos and her husband Carl of Woodlands, Texas, and by five grandchildren, Paul Taskalos, Michael Taskalos, Neil Cohen, Stephen Cohen and Kimberly Cohen.
The Rev. Leszek Szymaszek, parochial vicar, will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 10 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church. Interment will be private.
There will be no calling hours.
Contributions in Mr. Sztencel’s memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Ridgefield, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, is in charge of arrangements.
Margaret Tomey, MASH nurse in war
Margaret Elizabeth Tomey of Ridgefield, a combat-decorated nurse who set up MASH hospitals in the western Pacific during World War II, died Sunday, Sept. 8, at Laurel Ridge on Danbury Road. She was 82 years old and the widow of Joseph F. Tomey.
Mrs. Tomey was born in Darien on Nov. 12, 1919, daughter of Lawrence and Suzanna Veitch McKeon. She grew up in Darien and, during the Depression, helped care for her grandparents. She received her registered nurse’s degree from the Danbury Hospital Nurses Training School in 1941 and worked at Norwalk Hospital until 1943 when she enlisted in the U.S. Army.
During the war Mrs. Tomey was a first lieutenant, involved in setting up and operating Army MASH hospitals in New Guinea, the southern Philippines and Luzon. She was cited for meritorious service and received the Asiatic Pacific theater ribbon with three battle stars.
Discharged in 1946, she returned to Norwalk Hospital and in 1948 married Joseph Tomey. Her husband died when he was 45, leaving Mrs. Tomey with three teenagers and a four-year-old.
“She took on this task with the same urgency and commitment as her military hitch,” said her daughter, Betsy Mahoney of Ridgefield. “We affectionately called her ‘Sarge,’ only half joking, because she had great expectations for us all and wasn’t afraid to let us know if we fell short.”
Mrs. Tomey put all of her children through Catholic school and college, Mrs. Mahoney noted. “She sacrificed much and worked incredibly hard to provide us with the education she and Pop agreed was important.”
Before her retirement in 1987, Mrs. Tomey had worked at the Homestead Convalescent Home and Cortland Gardens in Stamford in various capacities, including as director of nursing. She retired in 1987 and moved from Norwalk to Ridgefield a year later.
She was a member of the Sacred Heart Church in Georgetown and did volunteer work, preparing food for the Dorothy Day soup kitchen in Danbury. She enjoyed crocheting and caring for her granddaughter.
Mrs. Tomey is survived by a son: Joseph F. Tomey Jr. and daughter-in-law Anne Brady of East Windsor, N.J.; three daughters: Mary A. Shand of Goffstown N.H., Margaret “Martie” L. Dow and her husband Doug Dow of Norwalk; Anne “Betsy” Mahoney and her husband Dennis Mahoney of Ridgefield; and a granddaughter, Shannon Mahoney of Ridgefield
A son-in-law, Peter Shand, died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesday, Sept. 11, at St. Matthew’s Church, Norwalk. Burial was in St. John Cemetery, Norwalk.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Danbury Dialysis Fund Inc. c/o Danbury Hospital Dialysis Unit, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810, Attention: Mila; or to Sacred Heart Church, P.O. Box 388, Georgetown, CT 06829.
Armando Torcellini, 79, restaurateur
Armando J. “Torchy” Torcellini of 25 Gilbert Street, a former restaurateur who spent most of World War II in the North Atlantic, died on Tuesday evening, Oct. 8, at Danbury Hospital. He was 79 years old.
A Ridgefield native, Mr. Torcellini was the son of the late Alessio and Theresa Marconi Torcellini. He grew up in Ridgefield and starred in basketball at Ridgefield High School, where he was a member of the Class of 1941. He played on the same team as John Tulipani, who died eight days earlier.
Mr. Torcellini served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He spent four years escorting convoys between the United States and Europe, including Murmansk, aboard a corvette, then a destroyer escort, and finally a destroyer. A radar and sonar technician, he specialized in submarine detection.
During the 1950s and early 60s, Mr. Torcellini was a research technician at the Schlumberger Doll Research Center on Sunset Lane. On weekends, he would work at Silver Spring Country Club, where his brother, Gino, the club’s manager, taught him cooking and bartending.
In 1965, he became manager of Angelo’s Retaurant in the Gaeta Shopping Center on Main Street, and two years later, acquired part ownership of Luigi’s Restaurant in Branchville, now Amici’s.
Though he was known for his basketball skills as a youth, Mr. Torcellini’s first love was golf. He became acquainted with the sport while caddying as a boy at Silver Spring and at Waccabuc Country Club. His longtime friend, Paul Baker, once called him “one of the area’s most competitive golfers.”
In 1986, Mr. Torcellini was stricken with circulation problems and over the years since had undergone many operations, including four amputations.
“I’m not so bad off,” he would tell friends with a smile. “When I go to the hospital, I see a lot of people worse off than I am.”
In 1999, many of his friends and family turned out for a testimonial “Friends of Torchy Dinner” at the Red Lion Inn.
Mr. Torcellini was a member of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society and of St. Mary's Church.
His survivors include his brother, Gino Torcellini, who lives in Palm City, Fla.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced by the Kane Funeral Home.
John Tulipani, 79, veteran, athlete
John Tulipani of 77 Ivy Hill Road, a plumbing contractor who had been a baseball star and a World War II veteran, died on Saturday morning, Sept. 28, 2002, at his home. He was 79 years old and the husband of Janice Hunt Tulipani.
Mr. Tulipani was one of five Ridgefield brothers who went into the service in World War II. All five returned home safely and remained Ridgefielders. Three brothers survive him.
A Ridgefield native, Mr. Tulipani was born Dec. 28, 1922, a son of Vincenzo and Evelina Branchini Tulipani. He grew up on the family farm on Nod Hill Road and graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1941.
Mr. Tulipani entered the Navy in 1943 and served with the 100th SeaBee Battalion. He was stationed in Hawaii, in the Marshall Islands where he helped build a landing field out of coral, and in the Philippines, where he built hospital barracks and other facilities.
Before entering the war, Mr. Tulipani worked for Domenic Gaeta, a Ridgefield plumbing contractor. After the war, he continued working with Mr. Gaeta, but in 1962, struck out on his own, establishing John Tulipani and Sons Plumbing and Heating. He retired in 1991.
Over the years Mr. Tulipani had fashioned various tools and devices to assist in the plumbing and heating trade. “He liked to invent things,” said his daughter, Beth McKnight. “He loved to putter.”
“He was pretty sharp with his work,” said his wife, Janice, who added that Mr. Tulipani considered patenting some of the devices he had created.
His lifelong love of baseball began as a seven-year-old boy on the farm. Long before there was a Little League, he and his brothers played in the fields — sometimes running into trouble with their father when they hit fly balls into his vineyard.
Mr. Tulipani began playing organized ball at Ridgefield High School in 1939 and Coach Kip Holleran, also the school’s principal, called him the best player he ever coached. He later played on both baseball and softball teams in town and the region. In the Navy on Oahu, he played on the 1944 All-Navy All Star Team that included many former professional players. He also coached Ridgefield teams, including Babe Ruth ball.
In October 1994, the Ridgefield Old Timers Association honored Mr. Tulipani for his outstanding achievement, presenting him with the Sports Award. “Although small in stature and playing with a thin, three-fingered glove, he became one of the best third basemen in Ridgefield’s history,” the old-timers said in presenting the award.
Mr. Tulipani was also a musician. Before the war, he had been drummer with the Tulipani family orchestra that had played at many dances and other events in the area. After the war, the brothers formed the Sagebrush Serenaders, a country-western band in which he was bassist.
He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, the Italian-American Mutual Aid Society, and the Ridgefield Old Timers Association.
Besides his wife, Mr. Tulipani is survived by three sons: Michael Tulipani and his wife, Robin, of Stratford, Robert Tulipani and his wife, Karen, of Newtown, and Thomas Tulipani of Houston, Texas; seven daughters: Susan France of Queensbury, N.Y., Teresa Rich and her husband, Matthew, of Prineville, Ore., Evelyn Redmond and her husband, Timothy, of Goffstown, N.H., Judith Espitee and her fiancé, Larry Kish, of Bridgewater, Elizabeth McKnight and her husband, William, of Ridgefield, Diane Tulipani of San Diego, Calif., and Lynn Tulipani of Ridgefield; three brothers: Aldo Tulipani, Joseph Tulipani and his wife, Anne, and Alfred Tulipani and his wife, Mary, all of Ridgefield; a sister: Ada Walker of Ridgefield; a sister-in-law, Barbara Tulipani of Ridgefield; 17 grandchildren: Eric France of Denver, Colo., Christopher France of Chicago, Gregory France and Matthew France, both of Queensbury, Matthew Rich and MacKenzie Rich, both of Prineville, Jaime Staub and Kimberly Tulipani, both of Kodiac, Alaska, Philip Redmond and Katherine Redmond, both of Goffstown, Steven Espitee of Bridgewater, James Kish of Bridgewater, Sean McKnight, Brian McKnight, Michael McKnight, and Casey McKnight, all of Ridgefield, and Antoinette DiBenedetto of Stratford; six great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
His brother, Albert N. Tulipani, died in 1994.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated this morning, Thursday, at 10:30 in St. Mary’s Church. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
The American Legion & Veterans of Foreign Wars conducted a special service in the Kane Funeral Home on Wednesday evening.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Ridgefield Old Timers Association, P.O. Box 23, Ridgefield, CT 06877.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Minnie L. Ursitti, worked at Lord & Taylor
Minnie Lucia Ursitti of 642 Danbury Road, a retired department store employee and mother of a Ridgefielder, died on Friday morning, Sept. 27, at Danbury Hospital. She was 89 years old and the widow of Ben Ursitti.
Mrs. Ursitti was born in New York City on Feb. 13, 1913, a daughter of the late Nicolo and Lucia Palazzo Arbia. She attended New York schools.
A resident of Ridgefield for the past year coming from Monroe, Mrs. Ursitti was a retired stockroom clerk of Lord & Taylor of Stamford.
She is survivored by a son, George Ursitti and his wife Suzanne of Ridgefield; a daughter, Geraldine F. Rio of Norwalk; a sister, Josephine Russo of Yonkers, N.Y.; and five grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday morning at 10:30 in St. Mary’s Church.
Burial will follow in the Cemetery of the Gate of Heaven, Hawthorne, N.Y.
Friends will be received in the Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Richard Vaillancourt, 81, ice executive
Richard Vaillancourt of 27 Lantern Drive, a retired ice industry executive who was active in many aspects of the community, died on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Danbury Hospital. He was 81 years old and the husband of Joan Garrett Vaillancourt.
A native of Pasadena, Calif., Mr. Vaillancourt was born on Feb. 14, 1921, a son of the late Arthur and Jane Leddy Vaillancourt. He attended California schools and the University of Iowa.
A Navy veteran of World War II, Mr. Vaillancourt began his service as a member of a hydrographic unit that charted coral reefs around small South Pacific islands in preparation for Naval invasions. “It was very hazardous work,” said Mrs. Vaillancourt. “There were mines all over.”
Later he transferred to the Naval Air Corps and began training as a pilot. However, the war ended before his flight training was completed.
After the war, Mr. Vaillancourt joined his brother, Robert, as a partner in the Thermacote Company, a manufacturer of welding equipment. In the mid-1950s, he formed his own company and became a supplier of equipment to the ice-making industry.
In 1997, he received the New England Ice Association’s Warren Peirce Award in recognition of his lifetime of distinguished service to that industry.
The Vaillancourts moved to Ridgefield in 1973 from Summit, N. J., and Mr. Vaillancourt soon became active in the community. He was a Republican Party worker who often did campaign fund-raising. He also managed the successful campaigns of Martha Rothman and Jane Jansen for state representative.
A longtime supporter of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, he served on its Board of Directors for five years. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Silver Spring Country Club.
“He loved golf,” Joan Vaillancourt said. “And he was a good golfer.”
He was also an avid New York Giants fan and had held season’s tickets for nearly 40 years.
Mr. Vaillancourt also enjoyed cooking, especially French cuisine. In 1998, at the age of 77, he completed a course in culinary arts at Norwalk Community College.
He was a member of St. Mary’s Church and had participated in its scripture study program. In New Jersey, he had been president of the Summit High School PTA.
The Vaillancourts marked their 50th wedding anniversary in 1998.
“He was very much a family man,” Mrs. Vaillancourt said. “He loved his family. And he had many, many friends. He was quite a people person — he was always interested in his friends and how they were doing.”
“He had a legendary sense of humor,” added his son, Peter. “He could tell a good story, and he specialized in the ability to shock people into laughter.”
Besides his wife, Mr. Vaillancourt is survived by his son: Peter E. Vaillancourt and his wife Mei of Del Mar, Calif.; three daughters: Katherine Vaillancourt of New York, N.Y., Michelle Vaillancourt of San Jose, Calif., and Anne Vaillancourt Abbott and her husband Mark of Durham, N.C.; and three grandchildren: Jaimie Vaillancourt, Clayton Abbott and Garrett Abbott.
A son, Richard Garrett Vaillancourt, died before him.
The Rev. Paul Murphy, parochial vicar, celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday morning in St. Mary’s Church. Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Contributions in Mr. Vaillancourt’s memory may be made to the Nelson A. Gelfman, M.D. Dialysis Unit, 1 South, The Danbury Hospital, 24 Hospital Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810.
The Kane Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.