SOUTHINGTON - Alphonse D’Angelo will receive Southington Unico’s Gold Medal of Honor - the organization’s most prestigious honor - May 17 at the Aqua Turf.
Some men teach others to fish - D’Angelo teaches his fellow man and woman to speak another language - three to be exact: French, Italian and Spanish. For more than four decades, D’Angelo has shared his love of world languages. He taught at Southington High School for nearly 35 years and for the past six years, he’s taught Italian at the Sons of Italy as a volunteer.
The Gold Medal has been awarded annually since 1945 to a distinguished citizen within the Southington community. The 2015 recipient was Sister Marie Roccapriore, M.P.F.
Called “Allie” by family members and “Fons” by friends, D’Angelo is well-known in the Southington community for more than his linguistic skills. To start with, it’s that ubiquitous D’Angelo name.
“We were the third Italian family in the town of Southington,” he says proudly.
His maternal grandmother came to Southington from Italy in 1875 and his father in 1911. His family grew up on Bristol Street.
After graduating from Boston College with an undergraduate degree, D’Angelo taught French for one year at the University of Connecticut. A chance meeting in downtown Southington with the then-superintendent of schools led D’Angelo to discover high school-level teaching as a substitute teacher.
“I found that I liked high school teaching better than I liked teaching college,” he explained.
And so in 1963, D’Angelo was employed by Southington High School as a French and ancient history teacher. He continued his education at Central Connecticut State University in the master’s program for teaching.
Once the high school moved to its current location on Pleasant Street, D’Angelo was asked to introduce an Italian program into the curriculum. A trip to South America to meet with relatives in Argentina led him to discover a third language for which he had a passion: Spanish.
“I ended up living with a family in Mexico for nine summers in order to learn Spanish,” he said. “I also received my sixth-year degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona.”
In 1997 D’Angelo retired from the school system, but not from his love of languages and community - most notably his beloved church community. He has served a multitude of volunteer positions at St. Thomas Church. He was also a Eucharistic Minister at St. Thomas for six years.
D’Angelo has volunteered in Waterbury with Father James Graham, the founder of The Sts. Martin & James Respite, an AIDS Ministry, and is involved with Small Christian Communities, participants of which meet each week to read and discuss scripture.
D’Angelo has traveled to Italy 22 times. Three years ago he had an audience with Pope Francis and even got to shake his hand.
The Gold Medal Award Dinner will be held May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Aqua Turf Club.
Tickets are $55 and can be obtained at Fasulo & Albini CPAs, 16 Cornerstone Court, Plantsville; Simply Wireless, 750 Queen St., Southington; and Southington Insurance, 85 Liberty St., Southington.
- Southington UNICO