Joseph A. Forcelli Sr., baseball teacher
Joseph A. Forcelli, 90, a gifted athlete and locally renowned teacher of the game of baseball, died on Wednesday, June 25, at Danbury Hospital. He had lived in Bethel for the past year, but had made his home in the Branchville section of Ridgefield nearly all his long life.
“He was a very good athlete and a very good ballplayer,” said Dom D’Addario, who lived for many years in Branchville. “He was sort of an instructor; he would teach guys how to play ball. He was very good. He used to play every position on the team, and played them all well.”
Mr. Forcelli was born in Yonkers, N.Y., on June 23, 1913, a son of the late Antonio and Antoinette DiBerardino Forcelli. His father came originally from Abruzzi region of Italy, and his parents moved from Yonkers to Ridgefield when he was young. He grew up the Branchville area, playing ball with his three brothers Peter, John and the late James Forcelli. The family also included two sisters, now Edith Dodd and Anna Frulla.
Mr. Forcelli worked for more than 40 years as a machinist at the Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company in Georgetown. “My uncle Joe worked there from when he was 16 to 62,” said his nephew Tony Forcelli of Ridgefield. “He worked in the wire mill his entire life, as my other uncle, Pete, did.”
Joseph Forcelli was a man with a natural affinity for young people, his nephew said.
“With kids, he was great. When we were younger he had the only ’56 Chevy in Branchville, and took all us kids to the stock car races every Saturday night. He did that for years,” Tony Forcelli recalled. “He was our chauffeur, really — he was for all the kids in the neighborhood, or who played ball, because he coached.”
Baseball was his legacy, his nephew said.
“He had huge hands, so he was able to throw a curveball very easily,” he said.
In October 1992, Mr. Forcelli was honored by the Ridgefield Old Timers Association as an excellent player — a leading hitter every year, as well as a gifted and versatile fielder. In the 1940s, he played with the well-known Ridgefield Motors team managed by Leo Pambianchi, who considered Mr. Forcelli the best player he ever managed. The Old Timers also honored him as a well-respected teacher of baseball who turned out some of the best players from the Ridgefield area.
“They called him ‘the professor’,” his nephew said. “Three or four of his players got offered professional contracts.”
Top local players who learned from Branchville’s professor of baseball included his brother, John Forcelli, Vin Petrini, and Gino Cingolani, who played for a time in the old New York Giants organization, Tony Forcelli said.
Mr. Forcelli also played hockey for the Redding Rangers and the Norwalk Hockey Club in the 1930s. He was a better than average bowler, and after his retirement could be found playing golf most weekdays.
Survivors include his two sons, Joseph A. Forcelli Jr. and Peter J. Forcelli, both of Bethel; two sisters, Edith Dodd of Vermont and Anne Frulla of Washington, Conn.; two brothers, John Forcelli of Ridgefield and Peter Forcelli of Vermont; and two grandsons, Christopher and Peter Forcelli.
The Rev. Mark E. Grimes, parochial vicar, celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial Monday, June 30, in Sacred Heart Church, Georgetown. Burial was private.
The Bouton Funeral Home in Georgetown handled arrangements.
John Frattaroli, 57, retailer, sculptor
John "Jack" Frattaroli Jr., of Bethel, a former Ridgefieder, died Friday, Sept. 26, at his home. He was 57 years old.
Mr. Frattaroli was born in Stamford April 6, 1946, a son of the late John J. Frattaroli Sr. and Catherine Nardozza Frattaroli.
He grew up in Stamford where he lived until 1970 when he came to in Ridgefield, remaining for 30 years before moving to Bethel three years ago.
He owned and operated a retail carpeting store in Connecticut for more than 25 years. After retiring he worked locally as a bartender. He also enjoyed sculpture in his spare time.
Mr. Frattaroli is survived by two daughters, Vanessa J. Frattaroli of South Salem, N.Y., and Monica J. Frattaroli of Alton Bay, N.H.; his friend, Gerian Williams of Danbury; and his former wife, Gayle Santoro Frattaroli of Brookfield.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 372 Danbury Road, Wilton 06897-2523.
Cremation will be at the convenience of the family.
The Bethel Funeral Home of Hull Funeral Service, 215 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, handled arrangements.
James P. Garavel, 78, highway worker
James P. Garavel of 35 Jefferson Avenue, Danbury, a former Ridgefield Highway Department staff member, died on Wednesday, May 7, at Danbury Hospital. He was 78 years old and the husband of Rosalie M. LaCava Garavel.
Mr. Garavel was born in Danbury May 25, 1924, a son of the late Angelo and Elizabeth Sullivan Garavel. He attended St. Peter’s School and Danbury High School. He was a graduate of Becker Junior College.
A World War II U.S. Army veteran, Mr. Garavel was first associated with his father in the family business, Garavel Trucking of Danbury. After the sale of the business, Mr. Garavel joined the accounting firm of Jessie L. Meeker. In later years, he became a staff member of the Danbury Hospital Credit Union.
>From 1980 to 1995, he was a member of the office staff of the Ridgefield Highway Department. For the past several years, he was an office staff member of the Cioffoletti Construction Co. Inc. of Ridgefield.
He was an avid sports enthusiast and most especially, a great fan of the New York Yankees.
Mr. Garavel was a member of St. Peter’s Church, Danbury.
Besides his wife of 54 years, Mr. Garavel is survived by a daughter, Mary Beth Garavel-Jowdy of Danbury; two sons, Robert M. Garavel of Brookfield and Paul J. Garavel of West Hartford; a brother, Gerald L. Garavel of Southbury; five grandchildren, Danielle E. Jowdy, Christopher M. Jowdy, Rebecca S. Jowdy, Paula M. Garavel and Michael R. Garavel; and several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in St. Peter Church, Danbury, on Saturday, May 31, at 10 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, P.O. Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101-0050.
The Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Avenue, Danbury, was in charge of arrangements.
Linnea Gugel, 52, teacher and volunteer
Linnea Gugel of 349 Florida Hill Road, Ridgefield, a Wilton primary school teacher for 30 years, died on Tuesday afternoon, April 22, at Danbury Hospital. She was 52 years old and the wife of Frank M. Gugel.
Mrs. Gugel was born in Stamford on May 17, 1950, a daughter of Charlotte Hoyt Brown of Vero Beach, Fla., and the late Clinton Brown. She grew up in Stamford and came to Ridgefield in 1965 with her family. She graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1968.
Mrs. Gugel received her bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University and her master’s and sixth year certificate from Fairfield University.
In 1972, she began teaching at the old Comstock School in Wilton. When that closed she moved to the Miller-Driscoll Schools, teaching second and third grade.
“When I sum up the essence of Linnea as a professional, she found something to love about every child, even those that were difficult to love,” said Dr. David Clune, Wilton’s superintendent of schools.
Mrs. Gugel had been an active community volunteer, usually with youth programs. For eight years, she served as a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts Troop 125 in Wilton. She was a member of Hope Church of Wilton, where has had taught Sunday school for several years and had been a volunteer for vacation Bible school.
Two years ago, she was one of the chaperones on the Appalachia Service Project trip to Virginia, sponsored by Jesse Lee Methodist Church in Ridgefield.
Mrs. Gugel had also been involved in the production of spoken books for the blind, working some years ago at the studio at the Ridgefield Library.
Besides her husband of 31 years, Mrs. Gugel is survived by a son, Matthew F. Gugel and a daughter, Jaclyn R. Gugel, both of Ridgefield; and a brother, Clinton E. Brown of Darien.
Pastor Gerald Stigall will conduct services on Saturday at 11a.m. in Hope Church, 240 Wolfpit Road, Wilton.
Burial will be private.
Friends will be received in the Kane Funeral Home, 41 Catoonah Street, Ridgefield on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, 90 East Ridge, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or the Hope Church, 240 Wolfpit Road, Wilton 06897.
Frances Hickey, 82, Stamford native
Frances Irene Thompson Hickey of 640 Danbury Road, a member of St. Mary’s Parish, died on Friday, Jan. 3, at her home. She was 82 years old and the widow of Charles E. Hickey VI, a former Stamford contractor.
Mrs. Hickey was born in Stamford on June 14, 1920, a daughter of Charles H. and Irene Sheridan Thompson. She attended Stamford schools and graduated from Stamford High School.
Years ago, Mrs. Hickey had been a telephone-marketing specialist.
Over the years, Mrs. Hickey maintained homes in Stamford, Pound Ridge, South Salem, Ridgefield and Danbury.
She was a member of St. Mary’s Church here.
Mrs. Hickey is survived by a son, Charles E. Hickey VII of Danbury; a brother, John “Jack” Thompson of Stamford; a sister, Charlotte Holoubek of West Covina, Calif.; two grandchildren, Tracey Hickey and Jason Hickey; a great-grandson, Jackie Ryan Hickey; as well as several nieces and nephews.
A brother, Charles H. Thompson Jr., and two sisters, Jane Thompson and Peggy Bezok died before her.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday in St. Mary’s Church.
Burial followed in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
There will be no calling hours.
The Kane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Clement Marino, 91, police sergeant, special ed bus driver
Clement M. “Clem” Marino of Southbury, a former Ridgefielder who had been a New York City policeman specializing in emergency rescues and who later worked as a special education bus driver here, died Friday, July 11, in Waterbury Hospital surrounded by family. He was 91 years old.
Mr. Marino spent much of his policing career pulling people out of auto wrecks, plane crashes and collapsed buildings. But his duties with the New York City Police Department’s Emergency Services Division also involved off-beat assignments, such as capturing escaped monkeys hanging from bridges and protecting Nikita Khruschev.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Marino was born in 1911 and after stints as a shoe repairman and a toll collector during the Depression, joined the New York Police Department on March 2, 1939. He began as a foot patrolman in Green Point, Williamsburg and Bedford Stuyvesant.
In a 1976 interview, Mr. Marino bemoaned the changes in the nature of the city, even the nature of crime, that he had observed from the days when he patrolled the streets. “It’s beyond my ken,” he said. “I can understand roughness, toughness, and being bad. But there is enough viciousness today to make the whole city an uncomfortable place to live.” In the 1940s, he said, “living in the city... was an utterly pleasant experience.”
After five years as a patrolman, he transferred to the Emergency Services Division where he rose to the rank of sergeant. He searched through collapsed buildings for victims, “scared to death” that walls would fall on him. He extricated people from smashed autos, from under subway cars and from inside planes and trains.
Emergency Services was also called to rescue unusual animals such as monkeys that had broken free from pet shops or had escaped from owners, and wound up in unusual places, like the undersides of river bridges. His unit was once called to administer oxygen to a Bronx Zoo gorilla that had suffered a heart attack. “Every one of the calls was different,” he said. “This element of difference made the job interesting.”
His unit was also involved in protecting world leaders. He was, for instance, in the squad that stood guard over the United Nations in 1960 when Russian premiere Nikita Khrushchev gave his shoe-banging “We will bury you” speech.
Mr. Marino was philosophical about the nature of his assignments. Sometimes when he was on a guard assignment, passersby would ask why he was standing around “doing nothing.”
“Every time I’m doing something, it means that someone is in trouble,” he would reply. “You’re almost saying that someone should be in trouble. That someone could be you and I wouldn’t want to wish that on you.”
The primary purpose of a police officer is “to prevent crime,” he told an interviewer, adding that just letting the uniform be seen is a crime-prevention measure. “I always felt that people should be glad I wasn’t doing something else.”
In 1958, Mr. Marino put together enough money to buy a lot on Overlook Drive and build a house. He retired from the police force in 1963 and went to work for the Board of Education here, first as a custodian at the Ridgebury and Farmingville schools. Then, in 1965, he became the driver of the mini-bus then used to transport special education children and interoffice mail among the eight schools and the central office. In 11 years of driving for the board, he figured he covered more than 300,000 miles.
Both parents and teachers commended his ability to handle youngsters, some of whom had serious handicaps. One teacher called him a “driver extraordinaire” and another, “a warm and sensitive man who is liked and respected by the children.”
“I love kids,” Mr. Marino said when the mini-bus was finally retired in 1976 and he, himself, was getting ready to do the same. “I had such a good time with them.”
But he was also saddened by the way Ridgefield youngsters were living in the 1970s. He felt their lives were unstable, in part because they’d never been able to settle in one place as their families were repeatedly transferred by corporations. They were also too regimented. “There is too much organized sports,” he said. “Let the kids play by themselves. They’ll have more fun. Too many fathers figure the kids have to be told what to do to have fun.”
His own family, he said, had been close-knit. Although his father worked as a barber each day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., dinner was not served until he was home and the family was together. A good time might be a trip to the beach with a nickel for a hot dog.
“You became acclimated to not having a lot of things,” Mr. Marino said, adding “I don’t know whether I would like growing up in today’s world.”
After his retirement, he and his wife moved to Cape Cod in 1980. Flora Marino died in 1990 and Mr. Marino later moved to Southbury.
He is survived by two daughters, Flora Kueppers of Ridgefield, and Dorothea McGarry.
Services were private.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of Danbury, 4 Liberty Street, Danbury, CT 06810.
Eugene McMahon, RHS ’46, athlete
Eugene Michael McMahon of Columbia, S.C., a Ridgefield native and star baseball catcher in his high school years, died Tuesday, Aug. 26. He was 75 years old.
Born in New York, Mr. McMahon was the son of the late Thomas and Catherine Creagh McMahon. As an infant following the death of his mother, he was reared by the Creagh family of Ridgefield.
A 1946 graduate of Ridgefield High School, Gene McMahon was an all-league catcher on teams that won league championships in both 1945 and 1946. In 1999, he was inducted to the Ridgefield Old Timers’ Hall of Fame in a ceremony at which he was remembered as “a great catcher” and “a peach of a guy.”
Mr. McMahon graduated from Michigan State University in 1950 and entered the Army, serving during the Korean War until 1952.
He had a long career with Saga Food Service, where he was the regional director of operations.
Over the years, he was active in coaching youth sports, including Little League, Pony League, and Pop Warner.
A devout Catholic, he locally attended St. Peter’s Catholic Church.
Surviving are his children, Susan McMahon of Dallas, Texas, Maureen McMahon of West Columbia, Mark McMahon and his wife Pranee of Hopkins, S.C., and Michael McMahon and his wife Jilene of Dallas, Texas; grandchildren, Brianne, Danielle, and Dayne.
His wife, Patricia Golden McMahon, died before him.
A Rosary service took place Friday at Dunbar Funeral Home in Columbia. Burial was in Sparkman Hillcrest Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Eugene McMahon Grandchildren’s Trust Fund, c/o First Citizens Bank, 1301 Lady Street, Columbia, SC 29201.