Ralph J. Matto, age 85, of Shelton entered into rest on Sunday night, May 7, 2017 two days after his birthday, at his beautiful home with his loving wife, Elaine Matto, and with members of his family by his side.
He was born in Shelton on May 5th, 1932, son of Joseph Raphael Matto and Dorothy Ann (Schippani) Matto.
Ralph was a lifelong resident of Shelton and in many ways was one of Shelton’s most respected and revered Town Fathers. Of his many accomplishments, Ralph founded the annual Shelton-Day Celebration in 1986. The celebration continues to this day. He was also a founding member of the Shelton Economic Development Corporation and had served in many roles and capacities right up to this past year.
Ralph graduated from Shelton High School where he was a major player in many sports, especially football. He made many important friends and relationships in high school that would last and be instrumental as he built his businesses and life in Shelton. Ralph served in the US Coast Guard right out of High School as a Sonar Operator, receiving an honorable discharge and then becoming a member of the local VFW.
Ralph’s first job in Shelton, at the age of 16, was as a construction worker on the major building of the Current Route 8 Bridge that spans the Housatonic river connecting Shelton and Derby. He then ventured out on his own, starting a foundation and general contracting company which eventually became “Building Co-ordinators” in 1969. Ralph started out providing the foundations for many houses throughout southern Connecticut, teaming up with Arbor homes in the early 70’s, and also provided the foundations for major projects like the Copps Hill Shopping plaza in Ridgefield Connecticut.
Ralph was also an active member and officer of Shelton’s Planning and Zoning “Board of Appeals”, known for his clarity and compassion in the hearing and granting of appeals to further resident’s needs, while at the same time maintaining integrity and adherence to the spirit of the regulations.
He was Chairman of the Shelton Housing Authority, having organized and led the design and construction of the extremely successful senior housing project known as Sinsabaugh Heights.
Ralph owned and renovated many of the downtown landmark properties in Shelton, such as the Pierpont Building and the old Shelton Theater, partnering with various friends and financial institutions to accomplish the refurbishments and restorations. In 1988, he partnered with a local bank to build one of the first Planned Development Projects in Shelton, known as Owl Hill.
Over the years, Ralph acquired and/or renovated many properties, especially in the central business district of downtown Shelton. He started BJB Realty in the mid 80’s, which leased to various retail stores and provided housing for many residential tenants.
In 2008, Ralph received the Raymond P. Lavietes Award For Leadership, recognizing a lifetime of Work and Community service, contributing to the development and vitality of Shelton’s downtown business district.
Ralph has built many hundreds of homes, condominiums, apartments and stores in Shelton. He was a “Master Developer” of raw land, envisioning and realizing the potential in any property, no matter how difficult and unbuildable, creating entire neighborhoods and communities from wild undeveloped land. From the first project at Quail Road, to the 5-street Audubon Lane Project, to Nature’s Way overlooking the Housatonic River, his ability to envision and create idyllic small communities and neighborhoods was unmatched. In his final years, he loved to ride around town, chauffeured by his sons Marc and Rick, to admire and reminisce over each and every project that he built in his long career, projects that cover the entire geographic region of of Shelton, from Pine Rock Park to the furthest reaches of White Hills and Huntington.
In addition to his incredibly accomplished career as a builder and land developer, in essence a self made “Renaissance Man in the Lower Naugatuck Valley”, Ralph was the much loved family patriarch of the extended Matto & Schippani family.
He planned and organized many family events and gatherings including the annual Matto Family Reunions and Valentine’s parties. He was compelled every year to bring all the family members together, far and wide to re-unite and celebrate the “Matto Family Heritage” and the accomplishments of each and every family member, no matter how young or old.
Ralph is survived by his beloved wife, Elaine Matto whom he married in 1986 and her immediate family. Ralph’s first wife, and mother of his four sons, Betty Jo Matto, was deceased in 1983. He is also survived by his brother Sal Matto and his sister Phyliss Mazzamarro.
Ralph is the loving father of Joseph, Richard, Bruce, and Marc Matto, and the grandfather of Raphael Matto, Byron Matto, Stephanie Matto, Nicole Matto and Brittney Matto. He is also the great grandfather of Ethan James Matto and Aurora Oceana Matto. Ralph is Uncle to Pamela and John Matto, and is also survived by several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his son, Bruce W Matto.
The greatness and goodness of this man is only surpassed by how much we will all miss him, whether family member, business partner or associate, employee, or passing friend and resident of Shelton.
In his honor, family and friends may call Wednesday, May 10, from 3 to 7 PM, at the Riverview Funeral Home, 390 River Road, Shelton. On Thursday friends are invited to a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 AM directly at St. Joseph Church, 424 Coram Ave., Shelton. His burial service will follow at Mt. St. Peter Cemetery in Derby.
Memorial contributions are requested to the Shelton Land Conservation Trust, PO Box 2276 – Huntington Station, Shelton, CT 06484.