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Torrington says goodbye to Raymond "Brooklyn" Colangelo.

POSTED February 16, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: While he graced us with his being for some three quarters of a century, Raymond “Brooklyn” Colangelo went to great lengths most of that time to make sure he stayed firmly out of the spotlight.

On a snowy Monday morning in the city he proudly called home, the people he affected came out to remind him that, while he may have reveled in not being honored, they were not going to miss out on the opportunity to say thank you for the grand life he led before passing away on Thursday, February 11.

St Peter’s Church was a second home to Colangelo and was overflowing on this cold February day.

He opened the doors three times a week for seven o’clock mass and three other mornings he would open St Francis Church.

It was his place of solace, his place of peace seven days a week and for as long as the eye could see this day, they lined up to pay homage to a man who touched so many lives in a positive and inspirational way.

Inside the church you felt a sense; a sense of calmness, a sense of love, a sense of family that this gentlemen brought to everything he did.

Never was a church so full, so devotedly quiet, so deeply in thought and admiration.

Nary a cough but many a silent tear flowed.

Visitors at one point had to stop signing in to the guest book, it was getting late and the celebration needed to begin.

Generation upon generation was on hand, each having some connection to the man whose lists of accomplishments are far greater than anything the written word could ever do justice.

Many knew him from his days at Dick’s Restaurant, a mainstay in Torrington if there ever was one and more than likely will never be again.

Dick’s was THE place. Great food, cold drinks, amazing company and a feeling that you were simply part of something bigger than you, but also something that made you feel like you were sitting in your own living room with your community family.

Brook Colangelo, his only son, honored his father with a moving eulogy that encompassed just how many different ways the man he knew as dad had impacted so many people around him growing up.

With grace, poise, humor and sadness, Brook Colangelo did his father proud.

His daughter Tina Roy, read a pair of readings with similar love and devotion in her voice.

Gail Colangelo, the women who married this good man 48-years ago, was surrounded by a congregation that grew to overflow boundaries, something that surely had her husband smiling down on all of us blessed enough to be in the building.

Ask anybody who was in Torrington during the Dick’s Restaurant days and they will more than likely have a story for you.

Raymond, Brook explained, was nicknamed “Brooklyn” because he talked like somebody from the famous New York Borough and his favorite team was none other than the New York Yankees, a passion he wore on his sleeve and on the walls of Dick’s.

It was only appropriate that the organist at the church played a beautiful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” near the end of the mass and we may have even heard Colangelo yell “play ball” from just beyond the pearly gates where he now has the best seat in the house.

The Dick’s Restaurant Scholarship, one that has helped 100 Torrington High School students to the tune of over $500,000 dollars, is a living legacy to Colangelo as one of the founding members of a fund that continues to help offset the cost of higher education.

A reception was held at the Elks Club after the mass and it too, was overflowing with people from all walks of life coming together to recall interactions with their friend.

In an age where everyone wants to be noticed, perhaps we should step back and take a page from the “Brooklyn” Colangelo play book that states it is better to do good quietly and let the chips fall where they may.

If you are doing the good work, nothing needs to be said. It’s good work and that’s enough.

A man of this stature cannot be saluted in just one story. Look for stories from friends and family over the next week as they help us remember their times with one of the best to ever call Torrington home.

If a measure of a man is in the people he leaves behind whom he impacted, count Raymond “Brooklyn” Colangelo amongst the giants to ever stay with us in Torrington.

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