OBITUARY

Biagio "Billy" S. Ciotto

25 December, 192920 March, 2021
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Biagio S. “Billy” Ciotto, 91, of Wethersfield, passed away peacefully on Saturday March 20, 2021 with his wife, Jeanne and his son, John by his side. Born December 25, 1929, Billy was the only child of Antoinetta (Scinto) and Joseph Ciotto.

Billy was an amazing man who truly loved people and was loved by so many in return. There will never be another like him. He is survived by his “beautiful bride” of 66 years, Jeanne, his children and their spouses, Joseph, Anthony, Julie and John Ferrigno, John and Sherri Ciotto, and Maria and Ken Larose. He leaves his five grandchildren, Jonathan Ferrigno, Jessica Ferrigno, Gabrielle Ciotto, Daniel Ciotto, and Jack Larose, who were the lights of his life and always brought a smile to his face. Billy also leaves several dear cousins, nieces, nephews and friends (including an extra special group of people whom he and Jeanne considered as their other “kids”), with whom he shared many laughs, smiles and tears over the years. He was predeceased by his parents, his mother and father-in-law, Margaretta and Edmund Purtell, his daughter-in-law, Mary (Lupo) Ciotto, his aunts and uncles Dominick and Rose Ciotto, Antoinette Rosso, Giovaninna and Silvio Paoletta, Philomena and Michael Galizia, Louis and Isabelle Scenti, Mike and Corrine Scenti and Mary Scenti. He was also predeceased by Jeanne’s siblings and their spouses, Shirley and Al Amos, Walter and Lillian Miller, Norman Miller, and Marge and Henry Dowling, as well as many cousins and many dear friends who were more like brothers.

Billy and Jeanne were married on January 22, 1955 at Saint Augustine Church in Hartford. While raising their young family, Billy often worked three jobs so that Jeanne could stay home with their children. One of those jobs was as an accordion player in the infamous Hartford area band, the Bel-Aires, with Ernie Andreoli on drums, Tony Matassa on bass, and John Prokopec on saxophone. The Bel-Aires played an untold number of weddings and dance hall events in the 1950s through the 1970s. As their children grew older, Jeanne would often join the band as their singer.

Billy attended Hartford schools, graduating from Bulkeley High School in 1947 and began what would become a successful 42-year career with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. His first position with the DMV was as a Teletype Machine Operator on the midnight shift. Throughout his DMV years, Billy worked as an Inspector, Supervisor, Manager, Director of Registry and Title and in 1987 was appointed to the position of Deputy Commissioner by then Governor William O’Neill. Billy served as Deputy Commissioner until his retirement in October 1989. Among his many accomplishments with the DMV was the transition to and implementation of issuance of a photo driver’s license to State residents.

Billy’s love for people was unmatched and after retirement in 1989, he spent the next five years as a volunteer at St. Francis Hospital bringing new patients through the admissions process. As a member of the Wethersfield Democratic Town Committee, he was asked to run for the 9th District Senate seat and won election in November 1994. He served six terms as 9th District (Wethersfield, Newington, Rocky Hill, Cromwell and part of Middletown) Senator. While he was a proud Democrat, during his time at the State Capitol, Billy was renowned and respected for his unique ability to reach across the aisle and bring about common sense bipartisan legislative solutions. As the Senate Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Billy could often be heard saying, “There’s no Democratic way to pave a road and there’s no Republican way to build a bridge. It’s about the people, they just want to be able to drive on safe roads and bridges!” In that same bipartisan spirit, Billy, along with former Democratic State Representatives Richard Tulisano and Joe Serra, co-founded the Italian-American Legislative Caucus with current Republican State Representative Anthony D’Amelio and then Republican State Senator, Lou DeLuca, creating a bipartisan educational scholarship fund to promote the appreciation and understanding of Italian-American history and culture.

Shortly after his retirement from the State Senate in 2006, Billy began working with the Hartford office of U.S. Congressman, John Larson helping countless constituents of the 1st Congressional District until his passing.

Billy was best known for his infectious smile, ever-present cigar and his genuine love of people. He, along with his wife, Jeanne, always stressed the importance of Faith, Family and Friends to their children and grandchildren. They taught all of us so many life lessons. He was never happier than when he was surrounded by family, especially during our annual 4th of July week family vacations at Narragansett, RI with 17 of us all in one house for the week.

Billy received numerous accolades over his many years of public service. The ones that were most dear to his heart were received from the Greater Hartford Italian-American Home (Gold Medal for public service in 1977), the Rocky Hill St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee when they named him Town Marshall in 2010, Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford for attending over 60 annual retreats; InterCommunity Mental Healthcare in East Hartford, for his work on behalf of people suffering from mental illness; the Rocky Hill Democratic Town Committee naming him the first recipient of the Biagio “Billy” Ciotto Public Service Award, and of course, being named Irish Person of the Year by the CCCCC in 2016.

One of the shining moments of Billy’s life was the personal invitation he received from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to attend her swearing in in Washington, DC in January 2019. The family would like to thank Mary Adjei, Martha Antwi, Sisay Demssie, Angela Johnson-Shaw, Natasha Edwards-Morant, Kemorione Brown, Donna Reynolds, and Teresa Sienko for their loving care of Billy over the last few years.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, March 29 at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 140 Farmington Avenue, Hartford. Individuals planning to attend the Funeral Mass will need to register at www.hartfordcathedral.org and attendees are asked to please go directly to the church. Masks and social distancing will be mandatory. For those who cannot attend, the Mass may be watched via livestream on the church website (see above). Interment in the family plot will follow the Mass in Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery (section R ext.), 1 Cottage Grove Rd., Bloomfield. There will be a drive-thru visitation on Sunday, March 28 from 12-4 p.m. at the D’Esopo Funeral Chapel, 277 Folly Brook Blvd., Wethersfield. In lieu of flowers and to honor Billy, the family requests your consideration of a donation made to the Biagio “Billy” and Jeanne Ciotto Memorial Fund – make checks payable to “Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Inc.” 10 Columbus Boulevard, 8th Floor, Hartford, CT 06106. To share a memory of Billy with his family, please visit www.desopofuneralchapel.com.

  • DONATIONS

  • Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Inc.

Services

  • Drive Thru Calling Hours

    Sunday, 28 March , 2021

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Monday, 29 March , 2021

  • Burial

    Monday, 29 March , 2021

Memories

Biagio "Billy" S. Ciotto

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Diane Boesch

17 May 2021

It’s a little bit late please let me share with you my memories of your father and grandfather he was full of love and kindness for all not just in politics but every day life. Jeanne Was a wonderful lady all Who knew her loved her blessings to your family
Jim and Diane Boesch

Bruno Cerati

30 March 2021

Jeanne and Family,
We are so sorry to hear of your loss. Billy had the ability to light up a room. He always had a smile and greeting for everyone. He will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathy
Bruno and Linda Cerati

Harry Gough

30 March 2021

Joe & family
So sorry to hear about your dad. In all my work with him he was the most upright and genuine state official I ever had the pleasure to work with.
I know he lived a good life but it is always hard to lose someone whose been in you life for so long.
I would like to have told you in person but for COVID.
Sincerely,
Harry C. Gough, P.E.
DMV Engineer Retired

Marie Sheehan

29 March 2021

Dear Jeanne and family, My deepest sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your wonderful husband. He was one of the warmest and kind people I have ever known. He reached out to all to help in any way he could. He was enormously proud of all of you, for family was everything to him. He was in touch when Felix (the Doc) was ill. I also needed to reach out to share a sweet of memory of the two of them. We were at an event that Billy was being recognized for but, sadly, I don't remember which one . Felix went out of his way to find the "perfect way to recognize him and get a laugh." We searched the internet and found a great picture of Billy, enlarged and printed it. He then found a very large teddy bear and attached Billy's face to cover the bears. We printed a banner to go along and it said "CUDDLES CIOTTO." Billy just loved it and Felix was thrilled. He reminded us each time he saw us afterwards and said the grandchildren loved it. It was a privilege and honor to know you both. This quote sums up Billy - "Some people pass through life and are soon forgotten. Others pass through life and leave their footprints deep in our hearts and we are never the same because of them." May your happy memories sustain you now and in the future. God Bless dear Jeanne, Marie Sheehan

Joseph Jeamel

29 March 2021

He called me his "Arab Friend ". When ever I picked him up in my Mercedes he would say "only in America " Rip my friend.

Ed Skowronek

29 March 2021

Our District meetings at Triple A were always an event. Our lunches at corner grinder could never be replicated, either, not to mention the time he took to get to know and educate us new folks in the office. What an incredible human being and pure force of nature.

Patricia & Josephine Scott

28 March 2021

Jeanne & Family
Mom and I are so sorry to hear of the loss of Billy. Mom always talks about both of you as such nice people. You may or may not remember me Jeanne, I met you with the coffee group at Tim Hortons with mom. Take care. We will keep you in our prayers.

Patricia (Scott) Sachonchik
Josephine Scott

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu

28 March 2021

On behalf of the City of Bristol, we share our deepest sympathy with the Ciotto family. We valued the interactions we had with Sen. Ciotto as part of the First Congressional District and Congressman Larson. He will be remembered fondly by all of us.
Sincerely,
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu

Michael D’Esopo Klett

28 March 2021

Jeanne and family,
How deeply saddened I was to hear of the passing of one of my all-time favorite people, Sen. Ciotto. I had the incredible good fortune of being your next door neighbor in my earliest years, but the Ciotto’s have always felt part of our extended family. As a young and impressionable campaign volunteer, I learned many important lessons from observing him- he was a man of principles, but treated everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of whether or not they agreed with him. He was a person of unyielding loyalty and a fierce advocate for his family, friends, and community, and he did it with a flair all his own. We’ll miss him dearly and your family will continue to be in our prayers.

Bhupen Patel

28 March 2021

Billy’s many good qualities include his down to earth humble attitude. He remembered every friend by their name and voice. Even during his ill health when I used to call him every few weeks he would pick up phone and before I identify he greeted me by first name and would talk above Najib and us getting together. My relationship with him was more as a friend. We did not talk politics.
He always asked about the health of our common friend Tony Gallicchio He will be missed by many friends.
May rest his soul in Peace.

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