Former Shelton Alderman Joe Lanzi dies: 'He was a real gentleman'
Former Shelton Board of Aldermen President Joseph Lanzi, 85, has died.
Lanzi served as an alderman for periods from the late 1980s to 2007, representing the Second Ward, which includes downtown. He also had owned a well-known food market in the central part of the city and was an active member of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Parish in Shelton.
“He was a tremendous friend to the community and to everyone who knew him,” said Alderman Eric McPherson, who served with Lanzi as an alderman from the Second Ward.
“He was an absolutely wonderful, kind person,” McPherson said. “The city has lost a dedicated public servant. It’s very sad news.”
‘The salt of the Earth’
Mayor Mark Lauretti said Lanzi was “the salt of the Earth. He was just a great, terrific guy. There aren’t many people better than him.”
Lanzi, a Republican, was aldermanic president after Lauretti was first elected mayor in 1991. He left the Board of Aldermen in the mid-1990s for a few years, then rejoined it to serve almost another decade as a member.
Lauretti called Lanzi “a pillar in the community, at St. Joseph’s Parish and in the downtown area.”
Always smiling and volunteering
Virginia Harger of Shelton knew Lanzi through their families, involvement in city government, and St. Joseph’s Church, where she works.
“He was an all-around good guy,” Harger said. “He always had a smile on his face. No one could ever say something bad about Joe Lanzi.”
She said he was quite active in the church, and particularly popular at St. Joseph's carnival time. “He was the lead guy to get the porketta going,” said Harger, noting Lanzi’s background as a butcher and food market owner.
Owned two downtown markets
Lanzi had operated Lanzi’s Market on Elm Street, near the church, before relocating to the nearby site of Wooster Street Market.
Alderman Stanley Kudej also served with Lanzi from the Second Ward for a number of years. “He was a real gentleman,” Kudej said. “Everywhere he went he had friends.”
Kudej said when they’d campaign together door-to-door and take different sides of the street, he would always finish first and have to wait for Lanzi.
“He’d take longer because people would ask him inside to have coffee,” Kudej said. “He just had that magic where everyone loved him.”
‘Did what his heart told him to do’
Lanzi would go above and beyond to assist constituents. “He’d go out of his way, helping people even if the city couldn’t do anything,” Kudej said. “He did what his heart told him to do. He really was a saint.”
McPherson said Lanzi helped him when he was first elected in 1991. Lanzi had already been in office for one term, and the two ran together on Lauretti’s ticket that year. “It was a thrill to campaign and serve with him,” McPherson said.
Lauretti said he believes Lanzi may have been the only Republican on the Board of Aldermen from 1989-91, which then was controlled by the Democrats.
‘A great guy to work with’
Current Board of Aldermen President John Anglace remembers well serving with Lanzi. “He was a great guy to work with and a wonderful friend,” Anglace said.
Like others, Anglace focused on Lanzi’s ability to get along with others — regardless of political party or other differences. “Everybody loved Joe Lanzi,” he said. “He was just a nice guy. He never ruffled a feather on anyone’s head. He was the kind of guy who got along with everybody.”
In recent years, Anglace and Alderman John Papa would visit Lanzi on a regular basis, and had noticed he was experiencing more health complications. “He told us he was slowing down,” Anglace said.
Anglace remembers the large birthday parties that would be held for Lanzi’s milestone birthdays every five years, attracting many friends and family. “There would always be a big crowd,” he said.
His passing is a loss for downtown Shelton in particular, Anglace said, where Lanzi knew just about everyone from his many years in business and politics.
A service for Lanzi is expected to take place at St. Joseph’s Church in Shelton on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 3.
He was pre-deceased by his wife but is survived by children and other family members. Riverview Funeral Home in Shelton is handling the arrangements.