December 2017

Gala Barker

Gala (Connell) Barker, 89, of Portland, CT, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 3, 2017, at Masonicare Health Care Center in Wallingford, CT.
Gala was born in Cranston, Rhode Island, on March 8, 1928, to the late Louise and Ralph Connell. Gala graduated from Cranston High School and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Library Science from Brown University.
Gala met Gordon Barker on a blind date at a bull fight in El Paso, Texas, arranged by Gala's brothers-in-law, while the three men were serving in the army in Texas. Gala and Gordon were married in 1953 and had recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on November 25, 2017.
Gala was very involved in the back office operations of Barker Trucking, and in her later years she attended the New England Tractor Trailer school and received her Class 1 driver's license. Gala and Gordon traveled the country together in their own truck and she would say those were some of the best years of her life.
She was a beloved member of the Portland Methodist Church where she sang in the church choir, played the piano for Sunday school children, a member of United Methodist Women, as well as serving in various capacities within her local church. Gala also had a card ministry for many years of her life, making sure shut-ins and the ill were always remembered. She was an avid reader and could read, write and speak five languages. She always wrote little poems to her family members. Gala loved her little companion dog Bootsie.
Gala is survived by her husband Gordon of 64 years, two sisters, Merlyn Zalace and Dorothy Martin of El Paso, TX, a daughter Audrey Giorgio and her husband, John, of Cheshire, a son Ralph Barker and his wife, Trish, of South Windsor, and a son Gordon Barker of Louisburg, NC. She is also survived by grandchildren Carol Szymaszek, Dan Szymaszek and his wife, Maria, Matthew Szymaszek and his wife, Molly, Aleta and Alexandria Barker, and Kyle and Evan Barker, and great-grandchildren Madison, Cameron, Cody, and Ryan, as well as many nieces and nephews. Gala was predeceased by her daughter, Carol Ann Taylor.
Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Portland Funeral Home, 231 Main Street, Portland, CT. A graveside service will be held at the Center Cemetery in Portland Thursday, December 7, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. 

Richard Kirsche Jr.

Richard W. Kirsche Jr., 95, died Sunday, December 3, 2017 at Hartford Hospital following a brief illness.
Mr. Kirsche was raised in West Hartford, the son of Richard W. Kirsche Sr. and Marguerite (Hurlburt) Kirsche. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War IIas a sonarman on the destroyer-escort USS Coffman. He later graduated from the University of Connecticut and retired as an audit superintendent for the Aetna Insurance Company in 1985. He was a longtime resident of Portland and an active member of Zion Lutheran Church.
He was predeceased by his parents; his daughter, Karen Miller; his son, Peter Kirsche; his sisters, Einor Hart and Barbara Scanlon, and his brother, Robert Kirsche.
Mr. Kirsche is survived by his wife of 72 years, Margaret (Anderson) Kirsche; his daughter, Paula Brown; his sister, Nancy Lenihan, and his grandchildren: Garrett Miller, Megan (Miller) Forrest and Rachel Brown. He leaves behind three great-grandchildren: Jacoby Miller, Reagan Miller and Annika Forrest.
The funeral will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in the Zion Lutheran Church, Portland. Burial with full military honors will be in the Swedish Cemetery, Portland. Calling hours will be in the Zion Lutheran Church on Saturday from 12:30 p.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Zion Lutheran Church, 183 William St., Portland, CT 06480. The Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main Street, Portland is in charge of arrangements. 

Jean Marie Unekewicz Henry

Jean Marie Unikewicz Henry, 85, of Middletown, passed away on Friday, December 1, 2017 at Middlesex Hospital after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer. Born February 15, 1932 in Portland, she was the oldest daughter of the late John F. and Genevieve Unikewicz. She graduated from Portland High School in 1949 and from Middlesex CC in 1989. She retired from the Middletown Board of Ed. after being a teachers' aide for over 40 years. She loved teaching and working with children. She will be greatly missed. Jean leaves her two sons, Robert and James Henry; and daughter, Suzan Binge and husband Blair. She is also survived by granddaughters Brianne Binge Cameron, Elise Walsh and Alison Binge; seven great-grandchildren, Nolan, Bradley and Charlotte Cameron, and Oliver, Reeve, Everett, and Clive Walsh; brothers Bobby, Stanley, and Norman Unikewicz, and sister Mary Carol Opalacz, and also many nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was predeceased by her beloved husband Edward of over 60 years, and brothers John and Gerald Unikewicz.
The funeral will be held on Friday, December 8 at 10:30 a.m. from the Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main Street, Portland, followed by a Mass of Christian burial in St. Mary Church, 79 S. Main Street, Middletown at 11:30 a.m. Burial will be in the State Veterans Cemetery, Middletown. Friends may call at Portland Funeral Home, Thursday, December 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. Donations in Jean's memory may be made to the Middlesex Hospice Unit c/o Development Office, 55 Crescent St., Middletown, CT 06457. 

Concettina Masella

Concettina (Connie) C. Masella, 98 of Portland, Wife of the late Salvatore Masella passed away on Friday, December 8, 2017 at Middlesex Hospital surrounded by family and friends. Born on April 26, 1919 in Bridgeport, daughter of the late Francesco and Cora (Falconeri) Cassibba. Connie had lived in Wallingford for 14 years prior to moving to Middletown and then to Portland since 1964. Before retiring she was employed by Ripley Co. in Cromwell for 25 years. Connie was a member of St. Mary's Church of Portland and the Middletown Italian Society. Since retirement, she volunteered as a school helper at Portland schools and at the Portland Food Bank for 25 years, where she met so many wonderful people.
Connie is survived by a brother, Corrado Cassibba of Italy, Salvatore Falconeri, Michael Falconeri and wife Beverly, (two) nieces Anita Filanda of Middletown, Kristie Damaine of Cromwell, a nephew Peter J Filanda Jr and wife Rosemarie of Portland and Connie's large loving family comprised of many nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews and great- great-nieces and nephews. Her good friends Diane and Glenn Ballinger, Ruth and Nunzi Maio and Lori Griffith all of Portland. She was predeceased by (two) brothers Salvatore and Michael Cassibba.
Connie will be deeply missed by all who knew her, whether the warmth of her smile or the warmth of the food from her oven, she always made you feel as if you had known her for a lifetime.
The funeral will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 8:30a.m. at Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main St. Portland followed by a mass of Christian burial at St. Mary's Church of Portland at 10am. Burial will be in the family plot at St. Sebastian Cemetery of Middlefield. Calling hours are 8:30a.m. to 9:30a.m. at the funeral home on Tuesday morning.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Portland Food Bank, 7 Waverly Avenue Portland CT 06480 or of a charity of your choosing. 

Mary Wagner

Mary Wagner (Dean), 59, of Portland, beloved wife of Robert “Skip” Wagner passed on peacefully in her sleep on Saturday December 23rd at home. Born May 18, 1958 in Coos Bay, OR, she was the daughter of William Dean of TN and the late Judith Dean. Mary graduated from Portland High School in 1976 and went on to earn her associates degree in business administration. She worked as an administrative assistant for Northeast Utilities, Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, and Aetna until the most recent 15 years where she spent time as a homemaker and helping with her grandchildren. 

Mary loved unconditionally and had so much love to give. Mary loved animals, especially her dog, Sandy boy. Reading and painting and country music were a few of her favorite things and home was her favorite place to be. She especially loved spending time with her daughters, “sons” and her 5 grandchildren. Grammy was always there for a warm hug and a snuggle, her grandkids meant the world to her. She had a very deep faith in God and was active in her church.  Mary had the biggest heart and loved spending time with family and friends. She always looked forward to her monthly dinner club and doggie play dates. Mary was bubbly, happy and had a way of making people feel so loved. She was the foundation of her family and will be greatly missed.

Mary is survived by her husband of 39 years and high school sweetheart, Skip, her daughter Heather Kissinger and her husband Eric of Portland, her daughter Kasie Eason and her husband Glenn (PJ) of Portland, one brother Daniel Dean, and three sisters; Janet Steir, Robin Crosswhite, and Patty Lindsay, and her five grandchildren MaryJane, Easton and Evan Kissinger, and Aubrey and Alanna Eason. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 30th at 10:30 a.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church, 183 William St., Portland. Burial will be in the family plot in the Swedish Cemetery, Portland, at a later date. Friends may call at Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main St., Portland on Friday evening from 4 to 6 p.m.  In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Zion Lutheran Church 183 William St, Portland CT 06480 or to the Connecticut Humane Society 701 Russell Rd, Newington, CT 06111. 


Nancy Bronson

Nancy Louise Bronson of Covenant Village in Cromwell , Ct  passed away on 12/26/2017. Nancy was born on 11/7/1930 in Orange, New Jersey to Florence M. and Wilson F. LeFevre. She attended local schools and graduated from Montclair High School. Nancy attended New Jersey College for Women and Upsala College before raising her family. She completed her college degree at Charter Oak College in Hartford, Ct. years later.

Nancy married the love of her life, Charles I. Bronson on 3/17/1951 in Montclair, New Jersey before moving to Portland, Ct.  Nancy and Charles were married for over 66 years.  Portland was known as home until moving to Covenant Village in 2009. Nancy was a long term member of Zion Lutheran Church, serving on the Altar Guild for many years.  She participated in the church choirs. She and her husband volunteered for Meals on Wheels.  Nancy was a member of The Huguenot Society and a descendent of Simon LeFevre (1600’s) of New Paltz, New York.

Her favorite pastimes were sewing and reading.  Summers were enjoyed over the years at the family cottage at Cornfield Point, Old Saybrook, Ct. and years later at Point Judith, RI.

Besides her beloved husband Charles, she leaves her cherished son, William and his wife Linda of South Glastonbury, Ct. Linda was Nancy’s devoted caregiver for the past 2 years. Grandchildren include    Michael and Amanda Bronson of Wakefield, RI. and David and Cara Bronson of Auburn, NH. , Heidi and Lucas Pina of Marblehead, MA. and Christopher and Jennifer Stanger of Pittsford, NY.  Seven great grandchildren: Hayden Bronson, Teagan and Gavin Bronson,  Madison Pina, Emily and Jessica Stanger and Hailey Corriveault.  Nancy was predeceased by her son,  David Bronson in 2016.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 30th at 1 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church, 183 William St., Portland. Burial will be in the family plot at the Swedish Cemetery, Portland. Friends may call at the Zion Lutheran Church on Saturday, December 30th from noon until time of service. Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main St., Portland, is in charge of arrangements. 

Donations in Nancy’s memory may be sent to Zion Lutheran Church, 183 William St., Portland, CT, 06480.

December 2017 (continued)

Gordon C. Prickett

Gordon C. Prickett, Jr. of Portland died Monday, Dec. 25th, 2017 at Sharon Health Care Center at the age of 81. He was born May 23, 1936 in Hartford to Gordon C. Prickett, Sr. and Edith Prickett.

Gordon attended Middletown High School and then joined the army. After leaving the army he attended various technical schools for programming. He joined Connecticut Bank and Trust in 1959 as a project leader for teller automation. 

He is survived by his wife Henrietta (Tokarz), his three sons: Scott of Manchester, Alan and his wife Sheri of Manchester, and Marc of Texas. He is also survived by his grandchildren Kayla, Brycen, Savanna, Tyler and Aaron of Manchester and his two great grandchildren Dublin and Xavier .

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, January 2nd at 10 a.m. in the Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main St., Portland. Burial will be in the family plot with military honors in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Portland. Friends may call at the funeral home on Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. until time of service. 

Suzanne C. Milardo

Suzanne C. Milardo (Cotrone), 77, of Portland, CT passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, December 24th 2017 at Middlesex Hospital, Middletown. CT.

Sue Milardo was born in Middletown, CT on May 17th 1940. She is pre deceased by her parents, Louis and Francesca Cotrone (DeMerlo) and her beloved brother, Louis Cotrone. She was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, Middletown CT. After graduating, Sue was employed as a Switch Board operator at CT Valley Hospital and thereafter stayed home to raise her four children. Many years later she re-entered the work force, employed by the State of CT at OTB and then Ellis Technical School in Danielson, CT where she retired in 2006.

Sue was an avid reader, a great cook and adored animals. Everyone who knew her, knew how much she loved her dogs! She looked forward to eating at her favorite restaurants and watching her classic movies until 3 am. Her greatest legacy is her love of family and her joy was taking care of her grandchildren. She was a mother to many (affectionately called Nonnie). Her home was always a warm and welcome place where you instantly felt like family and where all the neighborhood kids thought of her as a 2nd mother. She was known for her sense of humor and always quick to come up with endearing nicknames; Pip, Slick and Cowboy were a few of her favorites! She was adored and loved by her children and grandchildren and will be greatly missed.

Sue leaves behind four children, Edward F. Milardo and his wife Lindsay from Murrells Inlet, S.C. John P. Milardo of Norwich, CT. Amy Milardo and husband Neil of Portland, CT and Bethany Milardo-Larrow of Portland, CT. She leaves behind nine grandchildren, Ryan Milardo and his wife Kelly, of Portland, CT. Greyson and Ava Milardo of Murrells Inlet, S.C. and Caleb Milardo of North Carolina. Katie Milardo of Norwich, CT. Sophia, Brady, Griffin and Dean Larrow of Portland, CT.  She leaves behind two great grandchildren, Owen and Emma Sue Milardo. In addition she will be greatly missed by her sister-in-law, Susan Cotrone, her beloved cousin, Marjorie Gilletti, best friend, Dianna Dixey along with many other family members and friends. A special thanks to Neil Senecal, Sue Milardo’s son in law, for his devotion, caregiving and love.

Calling hours will be Wednesday, January 3rd from 5-7pm at The Portland Memorial Funeral Home, 231 Main Street, Portland, CT 06480. Burial will be held privately at a later date. In lieu of flowers, we are creating an Autistic Education Fund in memory of Sue Milardo. We ask you please send donations c/o Julia DeSimone, 179 Summer St, Portland, CT 06480.

We love you to the moon and back Nonnie!

Marian Hutchings

Marian Hutchings journeyed through life in a positive yet unassuming manner. Marian graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1948, and later worked for the R.W. Camp Company as well as for Butler Insurance. She spent many years working for the benefit of those born with Down Syndrome and other intellectual challenges. As part of a core group of families, she helped to establish the Middlesex Association for Retarded Children, later renamed the Middlesex Association for Retarded Citizens (MARC), and she worked as the organization’s secretary for several years. Marian also helped with coordinating the Middlesex Youth Association for Retarded Citizens, a program sponsored through Xavier High School. A devoutly religious woman, Marian faithfully prayed the rosary, and she participated in the Bereavement Ministry at St. Mary’s Parish in Portland. Marian was an avid reader, and she loved spending time in book stores and libraries; she enjoyed vacationing on Cape Cod with her sister Dorothy; and she loved all things Irish. She was married to F. Donald Hutchings for 64 years.