Remembering two men who made Shelton a better place

Shelton has always been blessed with citizens who stood up to the challenges and growing pains of the city and its population. They don’t do it for rewards or personal glory, but just to make Shelton a better place to live, work, learn and play in.

We recently lost two Sheltonites who made a difference. Neither of them made headlines or looked for the spotlight, but I thought you should know something about them.

Please let me divulge that I was well acquainted with both of these gentlemen from my childhood but I am writing not just to impress you with their accomplishment but to remind you of the strength and foresight each of these gentlemen had.

Joe Lanzi: Giving back to the community

First, Joseph Lanzi. He was a family man who gave back to the community in many ways.

Joe founded and managed Lanzi’s Meat Market, which was located just across the street from the side entrance to St. Joseph’s School in Shelton. He thoroughly enjoyed meeting his customers personally and sharing the latest city and personal news as he cut and prepared the item they ordered.

He was elected to the Board of Aldermen from the Second Ward and served as the board’s president for several terms.

Joe was always interested in how the city and its citizens were doing. He was willing to give up family time and endure long municipal meetings after a full day’s work and the criticism that comes with any elected position to ensure that the city of Shelton was managed correctly.

Joe also was on several boards, building committees and commissions during his tenure in city politics. He was ready to step up and provide assistance and advise whenever it was needed.

His business background trained him to be a good steward of the city and a visionary. Joe was one of the individuals whose vision was to see the Bridgeport Avenue corridor become a shopping and industrial area of the city. He was  pleased and blessed to see this become a reality.

Vic Cook: Did more than expected

Second, and only because he passed away about a week after Joe, is Victor (Vic) Cook. I met Vic when I was the batboy for the Simonetti Cleaners championship softball team.

Vic was always an outstanding athlete. He was the whole package in softball — he excelled at hitting, running and fielding. His grace and speed on the basketball court also was well respected.

He was a master of every sport, with what some might call a cocky attitude. I call it bravado. He was the real McCoy — confident, cool and a real team player.

Vic was another person to whom the city of Shelton was more than just a home. As the city’s first recreation director, before it was called Parks & Rec, he promoted the then-few sports programs the city had to offer.

Under his direction and leadership, he helped to plan, develop and bring to fruition many of the wonderful recreation services available to all Shelton citizens today.

In the late 1950s, Vic was aware that the city had limited resources. He would take a city truck, trailer and mower to assure fields were properly mowed for our student and adult athletic programs. He did more than expected without fanfare or decoration.

Vic was once described to me as the man who never tied his shoes. This observation was correct —  however, he was comfortable being who he was and wouldn’t it be great if we could all be more like Vic.

Serving and mentoring

Joe Lanzi and Vic Cook are just two examples of people in Shelton who step up to the plate to make Shelton an outstanding place to live. Both also had served in the armed services — Joe in Korea and Vic in Germany.

Let’s not forget to thank those who have served, and those who are presently serving, in our armed forces for their contributions in providing us with the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

I’d also like everyone to remember to thank their coaches, teachers and mentors who have made their path through life a little better. Do it now while you can still give them a call or drop a note in the mail (not email), and just say thanks for the life lessons they instilled in you or the example they set.

School's open, so slow down

On a serious note, I want to request all those who drive in Shelton to slow down. School is back in session, and it’s common knowledge that speed kills. And don’t text while driving.

Our police and fire departments and EMS teams don’t want to have to race to another early morning car wreck, or to go to anyone’s home to report an accident or offer condolences on the loss of a family member.

Lastly, in November the Shelton ballot will include a referendum for $5 million to continue and advance our city road repair, resurfacing and replacement programs. I encourage every one to come out and vote yes on this referendum questions.

Anthony F. Simonetti is chairman of the Shelton Republican Town Committee as well as an alderman for the First Ward.