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Newkirk & Whitney Funeral Home

318 Burnside Ave, East Hartford, CT

OBITUARY

Frank P Bellantoni

January 22, 1923July 24, 2020

BELLANTONI, FRANK PHILIP “CHEECH”

On Friday, July 24, 2020, we lost our cherished family patriarch. Frank Philip Bellantoni, 97, of East Hartford, CT, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving and caring family, leaving this world to join his wife Carmella in the arms of their Beloved Jesus. His birth certificate reads “Francesco”, his friends and customers referred to him as “Frank”, but his family always called him “Cheech,” a southern Italian derivative of his proper name. He was “Uncle Cheech” to a sizeable extended Bellantoni and Mazzarella clan, who enjoyed his humor, love and good cheer, and “Pop” to two generations of grandchildren. He was truly everyone’s favorite and we were all so truly blessed to have him with us for so long.

Frank was born to Nicola and Francesca Bellantoni in Port Chester, New York on January 22, 1923, one of six brothers, who came of age during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The four older brothers served their country during the Second World War, including Frank who enlisted in the U.S. Marines and was stationed on the Island of Guam in the Pacific. He grew up in a closely-knit Italian family and his love for all things “Italia” would be an attribute of his entire life and well taught to his children.

Across the street from the Bellantoni household in Port Chester resided the Mazzarella family, and it was there during their early teens that Frank noticed (and immediately fell in love with) Carmella Mazzarella, predicting to his brothers that he would someday marry her. And, he did. They remained together for 58 years until she sadly passed due to complications of a stroke, which Carmella suffered shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary. Together they raised two children, Nicholas and Susan, and were the most loving and protective parents anyone could wish for.

After the war, Frank made use of the G.I. Bill to attend a men’s barbering school in Manhattan, receiving his license in 1947. He owned and operated Kingswood Barber Shop on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford for over half a century and continued to cut hair until last year when it grew too difficult for him to keep his arms up or stand for long periods of time. Overall, Frank barbered for 72 years and for some families, he cut four generations of their men’s hair and many of his customers became lifelong friends, some coming to his house to get haircuts long after he officially retired. For over 40 years, on Mondays, his day off, he barbered at the State Armory in Hartford, cutting hair for Connecticut National Guard personnel. In 1990, he was appointed “Honorary Connecticut Yankee Aide-de-Camp (Colonel)” by the Connecticut General Assembly with the award presented to him by Gov. William O’Neill for his long service to the state militia.

Frank was extremely proud of his Italian heritage making numerous trips to the homeland touring and reuniting with family in Sicily and Campo Calabro. The sound of Italian operatic music permeated throughout the house and his knowledge of the life and operas of Giuseppe Verdi exceeded that of a university scholar and historian. In 2015, he was given a distinction he most sincerely appreciated when the Italian-American War Veterans designated him “Honoree” of the Hartford Columbus Day Parade in recognition of his preserving Italian-American heritage and culture.

Our Cheech loved to laugh. He purchased joke books and memorized his favorites to tell at family gatherings or during phone conversations. Most of the time his delivery (which usually botched the punch line) was funnier than the joke and many times he told the same joke over and over, but you still had to laugh along with him. He endeared himself to everyone. He always saw the good in every person. He was passionate about his politics, an avid lover of baseball, especially his idol Joe DiMaggio, and a student of history. He defied the odds by playing softball into his 50s, golf until the age of 93 and shooting a great game of billiards up to last year when he was 96. His mind was sharp to the very end, reading the newspaper every morning and a pile of books during the afternoon.

Frank was predeceased by his wife, Carmella; his parents, Frances and Nicholas Bellantoni; and three brothers, John, Alfio and Alfred. He is survived by his son, Nicholas and his wife Angela of Newington; his daughter Susan and her husband Neil McKechnie of Manchester; two grandchildren, Charles Willard and his wife Robyn of Manchester and David Willard and his wife Alicia of South Windsor; two step-grandchildren, Nicol and her husband Adam Sheppard of Colvis, CA, and Ryan Hart and his wife Kelly Grubb of Omaha, NE. He was blessed with five great-grandchildren: Carmella, Benjamin, Alexander, Hannah, and Jacob; and nine step-great grandchildren: AJ, Annalouise, Jude, Paul, Julia, Joel, Ben, Leon and George. He also leaves two brothers, Louis Bellantoni of Clearwater, FL and Joseph Bellantoni of Port Chester, NY. Frank was very close to an extraordinary extended family of sisters-in-laws, brothers-in-laws, nephews, nieces and their children - all of them loved “Uncle Cheech” dearly.

The family would like to extend special appreciations to Connecticut Hospice and the Newington VA for the wonderful care given Frank at the end of his life, especially by his compassionate nurse, Amy; to Chris and Missy, his neighbors of 27 years who always looked out for him, especially when he lived alone; to his sister-in-law Angie, who, as his best friend, shared daily phone conversations for over 15 years; and, to his live-in aide Maria, an angel sent (well, not from heaven), but from Jamaica, who lovingly and tenderly looked after for him over the last five months of his life. We can’t thank you all enough for your love and devotion to him. Papà, amore da tutti noi! Riposare in pace!

All funeral arrangements are in the care of Newkirk and Whitney, East Hartford, CT where online sympathies will be made available. We truly understand how hard it is for family and friends not to be able to express their grief and love for Cheech through traditional Catholic funeral arrangements, but due to the COVID pandemic, and the great numbers of people who would have wanted to attend, burial will have to remain private and consist only of the immediate family. Plans will be made for a memorial mass and celebration of Frank’s life at a future and safer time. It is a traditional Italian custom for family and friends to provide food for the bereaved family, however, since we cannot gather, please consider donating food to a local soup or food kitchen for those families in need. Likewise, the family asks that in lieu flowers contributions can be made in the memory of Frank Bellantoni to: The Italian American War Vets, Post #1, 53 Henderson Drive, East Hartford, CT 06108.

Services

No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.

Memories

Frank P Bellantoni

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Alexander Nweeia

August 3, 2020

Frank was a great barber and a wonderful man. My dad and mom, Al and Nellie, owned Kingswood Beauty Salon across from Frank's Barbershop on the second floor. They, of course, could have cut my hair, but I preferred to have Frank do it in the '50's, 60's and 70's. Frank did a great job and as I got older, I would listen to the operas that Frank had playing on the radio. My deepest sympathy to Nick and Susan and all family members on the passing of Frank. He will surely be missed but not forgotten.

Jay Hershman

August 3, 2020

To all the family, especially Nick, Billy W, Chuck W and Cliff W - I'm sad about Frank's passing and so grateful someone sent me the notification, otherwise I would not have known. Condolences to his entire family.

I grew up in West Hartford on Penn Drive, and Frank cut my hair from the time I was a little boy (probably starting around 1957 or so I think), and for many years after. He was one of the greatest, nicest, thoughtful and sincere people I have ever met. As an offshoot of our mutual love of and participation in sports, he welcomed me to join his "family" softball team in East Hartford around the early 70's, where I played for many years and had so much fun. There, I had the opportunity and good fortune to be with him "outside" of his shop, and had the luck to play with Nick, Billy, Cliff and Chuck. I have such fond memories of those (very competitive!) games and summer times.

They don't make them any better than Frank. I'll never forget the long walk up those daunting stairs at Kingswood Market, and Frank's ever present smile when I walked in to get my haircut and lollipop.

Rest in peace Frank.

Jay Hershman

Lucianne Lavin

August 2, 2020

Nick and Family, I was very sad to hear of the passing of your father Frank. Your comments and stories of him through the years, Nick, clearly showed how much you cared about him and your mother. Please accept my deepest sympathies for your irretrievable loss.
Luci

Mike Farrell

August 1, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bellantoni family during this very difficult time. We are very sorry for your loss. We had the good fortune to be Franks neighbor for many years. We will never meet a more sincere, good hearted, compassionate person ever guaranteed. When I started playing golf 20 years ago Lucky for me Frank was there to give me tips which of course I needed many. Loved playing with him, could always count on at least a few new jokes that always made me laugh every round. We all loved him very much. Of course he will be greatly missed by all of us and his huge very loving family. Rest In Peace Frank

karen hartford

July 31, 2020

Nick and Susan and family, so sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad. He was a very special person. I worked with your Mom at St Joe's and got to meet him when we came to dinner. May all your wonderful memories give you comfort.

Regards,
Karen Hartford

Claudette Chambers-Smith

July 31, 2020

GONE but REMEMBERED
I never met Frank but I spoke to him. Maria, my sister, spoke glowingly about Frank, whom she referred to as her baby. She described him as being kind, loving, pleasant and appreciative. These qualities were engraved on his " bat", as he completed his "innings" and what a fine one it was!!! Rest in Peace Frank.
Stay strong family members, savoury the precious memories of your loved one.
He is resting at Home sweet Home.

Jacob Willard

July 31, 2020

He was the best grandfather ever ❤️ I will never forget him.-jacob

Missie Boyd

July 30, 2020

To my beloved neighbor, Frank. I am truly blessed to have known you and your wonderful wife, Millie (Carmela) for so long. You were phenomenal neighbors and friends. I would come home from work to find that Frank had mowed my lawn with his riding mower as recently as 2 years ago, at age 95. In earlier years, he would help with snow removal as well. We would talk on the phone about politics and WWII, which my father was in also. He always had a joke to cheer me up. To Nick, Angela, Susan and Neil, thank you for including Chris and I in your thoughts of your Dad. It was truly an honor to have known Frank and his family. I will miss him dearly.

James Foley

July 30, 2020

Frank cut my hair ( and other family members) hair in the 60's and 70's upto 1980 when our family moved out of West Hartford. Frank always asked how I wanted my hair cut but he always cut it the way my mother wanted until I reached H.S. Loved the jokes and the lollipops at the end. To Frank's family know that he was one of a kind and my thoughts and prayers are with you.
R.I.P. Frank

Mark Savitt

July 29, 2020

Frank cut my hair for many years when I lived in Ardmore road growing up. I have nothing but fond memories hanging around his shop reading comic books or hearing stories of years past. I’m truly saddened when I heard of his passing.

FROM THE FAMILY