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William J. Gazzola

Posted By Wendy On May 8, 2020 @ 1:38 pm In Obituaries | 58 Comments

Gazzola William web picture

1944 – 2020

Killingly- William “Bill” J. Gazzola passed away on May 3, 2020 at home after a battle with glioblastoma. Born in 1944 in New York City, Bill was the oldest child of the late William H. and Margaret (Scarpati) Gazzola.

Bill grew up in the Bronx, NY where he attended St. Mary’s Elementary and Cardinal Hayes High School during which time he met his wife-to-be, Diana. After high school, Bill worked at AT&T and attended NYU. He and Diana were married in 1965. Before moving to Connecticut, Bill, aka “Mr. G,” taught Industrial Arts for five years at Theodore Roosevelt High School.

In 1972, Bill and Diana settled in Killingly, Connecticut with their two sons. Bill worked briefly restoring and refinishing furniture before taking a teaching position at Killingly High School in 1977. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree at Goddard College and his master’s degree at Rhode Island College. Bill taught at Killingly High School for twenty-eight years where he relished his time with his students. After retiring in 2005, he relished time with family and friends, especially time spent on Cape Cod. Bill loved to shellfish with his grandchildren and took delight in preparing his famous grilled garlic oysters for them. Bill also enjoyed writing short fiction. For thirty-six years, he was a member of the Writer’s Hotel, a close knit writing group that met in Vermont every Spring and Fall.

Bill leaves behind his devoted wife Diana (DeFeo); his son Chris and his wife Kelly, their children Chloe and Mae who lost their “Doodily”; younger son Adam and his son Alexander who called him “Paka”, and Alex’s mother Effi (ex-wife), Bill and Diana’s bonus daughter Agnes Bernard of Windham. He also leaves his sister Carolyn Werge and her husband Bob who was his lifelong friend from the AT&T days in New York; brothers David of New Hampshire; Paul of New York; sister Margaret Eltablawi and her husband Hesham of Killingly; sister in law Violeta DeFeo of NY and her late husband Ralph DeFeo, Diana’s brother; and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. He was predeceased by his youngest brother James. Bill is also survived by numerous cousins. He will be missed by many close friends and colleagues in New York, CT, VT and Cape Cod, MA.

Services have respectfully been omitted. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Gilman Funeral Home & Crematory, 104 Church St. Putnam, CT. Memorial donations may be made in William’s name to Hospice of N.E.C.T, PO Box 632, Putnam, CT 06260. For memorial guestbook, please visit www.GilmanandValade.com.

Condolences for the family of “William J. Gazzola”

Condolence from Nancy Girald on May 8th, 2020 5:02 pm

I remember Billy as a cousin to look up to. Seeing each other was rare, but I treasure those times and conversations we had. God Bless you all as you grieve .

Condolence from Lori Kondratowicz on May 9th, 2020 9:26 am

Bill was certainly a bright light on this earth. He had character, charisma and charm. It was always a pleasure to be in his company. Julie and I extend our heartfelt sympathies on this great loss. May the good memories see you through the difficult times ahead. We are all here for you!

Lori & Julie

Condolence from Dr. Frederick Barks on May 9th, 2020 11:05 pm

I am so sad to hear of his passing and I know he was a fighter to the end. In high school, he often called me “Fritz”, and wrote in my yearbook “keep your eye on the ball”. He taught “materials” class which I took from 1978-81. I was a troubled teen with no real direction or purpose. I learned so much from him during those 4 years. Not just how to build something with your hands but to become focused to change my path of life. There were times he’d take me out to the hallway and ask what the hell was I doing with life. He took interest and genuine concern for me. I will always remember and respect him.

Condolence from Carol and Kevin on May 10th, 2020 8:59 am

Our thoughts are with you and your family at this sad time. Take comfort in the good life you had together and the many memories that you created together over the years

Condolence from Glenn Williams on May 10th, 2020 5:31 pm

I had the privilege of being a colleague of Bill’s for the first ten years of my career. I have been lucky to work with so many good teachers, students, and administrators, but he stands out. If you get to work with and become friends with a guy like Bill, you are lucky. If he was having a bad day, I never knew about it. He was too busy lifting the spirits of others around him. He had a unique sense of humor and a love of life that was contagious. And he seemed to smile with his whole body. I can’t tell you how many times he would start to tell me an anecdote that seemed insignificant to the situation and then suddenly he wrapped it up with the most poignant, wise and funny punch line. As lucky as I felt to know him, he would be the first to say that he was lucky to have Diana, his boys, and their families. I am so sorry for your loss. There was only one Bill.

Condolence from Bill & Pat Roach on May 11th, 2020 7:52 pm

I will miss our nightly walks . Each night I looked forward to seeing Bill come by. We would walk down the beach and up around the dirt roads, some times he would have Lola with him, Lola enjoyed the long walks. (I think?)
It really didn’t matter the weather, we just enjoyed each others company. We will miss you Bill, summer just won’t be the same without you. May God Bless you Diana, keep you in the palm of His hands, always.

Condolence from Nadell Fishman on May 12th, 2020 4:09 am

Rest in peace dear Bill. Diana, Chris and family, I hold you i. My heart. Bill’s friendship of long years made me a better writer and a better person. I have a wealth of memories but miss him sorely.

Condolence from Victor Rodwin on May 12th, 2020 5:18 am

I heard about Bill over many years from my wife, Nadell Fishman, and met him for the first time in Provincetown at a dinner with other members of the writer’s Hotel. I remember him as one of the most welcoming and congenial of the group. I met Bill a second time at their home in Wellfleet and was privileged to spend a delightful evening during which Bill prepared grilled oysters as an appetizer to Diana’s extraordinary tomato and sausage pasta dish. I was counting on reading some of his stories and having another reunion this summer. Alas, that will not be. But I will read his stories and my memories of him will live on. I look forward to many more evenings with Diana over the coming years. I’m sure all of you in his family will saver your memories of this very special “Bill.” Victor Rodwin

Condolence from Alec W Hastings on May 12th, 2020 6:30 am

As I read the condolences of friends and family, I see that Bill made his mark where it counts most–in the hearts of others. We were both longtime members of the Writers Hotel, and I always looked forward to seeing him there three times a year. He was, indeed, one of those people who glows with good humor and kindness and love. He was also a consummate storyteller, and I will remember the humanity of the characters he created, Obadiah, Baby John Fat, and all the rest. It is always too soon when guys like Bill leave this world, but he certainly lived his life well. I will miss him, but I’m glad to think he’ll never be completely gone. I know I will meet him from time to time in the halls of memory, and we will walk, as we always did, into the twilight where the stars appear one by one and the earth breathes softly and peacefully.

Condolence from Sarah Hooker on May 12th, 2020 7:23 am

I was part of Writers Hotel and privileged to know Bill for many years. He was a gifted writer and a wonderful human being. He lit up whatever room he was in, with his boundless enthusiasm, wit and charm. He taught me how to sharpen kitchen knives, and made a scale model of a pergola I wanted to build. He commiserated with me on my son’s strange energy as a boy, and was a true gentleman. I will miss him.

Condolence from Melody Cassio on May 12th, 2020 11:48 am

Dianna and family: so sorry to hear about Bill, our sympathy to all.

Mel & BJ Cassio

Condolence from Marty and Karen on May 12th, 2020 3:32 pm

Bill was always that friendly neighbor who would stop by and help with anything . He will be sorely missed . Karen and I offer our condolences and are here to help youvDiana in any way we can . Our love and thoughts are with you .

Condolence from Joe Di Bianco on May 12th, 2020 3:50 pm

I feel like I just lost a brother. I will miss his 6:30 AM “bird whistle” alerting me that he was ready and waiting to go to the bay and do some serious shellfishing. But of course I will miss much more than that. I will miss our summer afternoons having a “tazza di caffe” (with Sambuca) discussing the “fate of the world”, the summer constellations, politics etc. I will miss his help with my home repair projects but most of all I will miss the warmth and security that I felt when we were together

Condolence from Dave & Rose Townsend on May 12th, 2020 7:54 pm

Bill was truly a bright light in our lives on the cape. Realizing how lucky we were to have had him as a friend and neighbor, cheated not to have had more time.
Blessings & prayers to you all as you face this heartbreaking loss.
In remembering Bill I wrote some memories down that we would like to share…

“Hey Rosie ,how ya doin? “…Gona miss that…
He’d always come over w a tool or a piece of helpful advice to make whatever project I was doing easier. Gona miss that…
Always there at sunset or coming back from or headed to it. That smile. Gona miss that….
The silent watchman.
Enjoying watching me & my dog,since natika & now khaleesi, swim or throwing the stick. Telling me how wonderful it is to see that enjoyment. Gona miss that…..
His arrival w clams from the beach. His white hat & clay covered fingers. Every time telling us how they would have them on the grill w garlic. Fingers to lips & kissing to the sky like a true Italian cook. Then the grin w the leaving glance and an over the shoulder wave as he walked the path off the porch. “See ya Rosie”. God I’m gona miss that…..
Every time we would pull out of our driveway to head home. The wave from his garage or yard. Bye Bill
….headed home after hearing of his passing…No more goodbye bill…Just a sad lonely “bill”, coming from my husband Dave, as we pull away~RIP to you Bill~ you will be sorely missed

Condolence from Daphne Louise Talevi-ward on May 14th, 2020 8:11 am

Dearest Diana and the family… this is too sad ….and we all know Bill’s sharp mind and intellect was not done yet, not to mention there were still Appletini’ and oysters gratinata to be enjoyed with us all.

The smile cannot be replaced and is what comes to mind when I think of Bill, along with the warm generosity.

Will all be sorely missed, much love to you all at this dreadful time.

Condolence from Peter and Lea Davis and family on May 14th, 2020 8:21 pm

Dear Diana, Chris, Adam and family… We are truly sorry for your loss. Bill will forever be a bright spot in our memories. He touched our boys lives too and will always remember a story for a pie. lol Forever the teacher with a kind heart and encouraging nature and a wonderful neighbor with a bright smile, good stories and laughs. May God give you comfort during this time. ((HUGS))

Condolence from Kelly Andrews-Babcock on May 14th, 2020 8:22 pm

Chris, Kelly, Chloe and Mae,
I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. You are in my prayers. Sending healing your way.

Condolence from Melinda Collelo on May 14th, 2020 8:41 pm

I can just imagine how hard this is for you and your family Chris. Please know how much all of us at Ellis care. ❤️

Condolence from Debi & Rob Berube on May 14th, 2020 8:44 pm

Dear Chris and your entire family,
We send our deepest sympathies for your loss. While we did not have the pleasure of knowing your dad, I know he was a very good father as evidenced by the terrific son he raised. Sending our thoughts and prayers.

Condolence from Myra (burnham)Watson on May 14th, 2020 9:57 pm

My condolences to Mrs. G, Chris, Adam and their families. Mr. G will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years. I remember living near all of you in “the Valley”. Rest in peace Mr. G

Condolence from David brooks on May 14th, 2020 10:55 pm

I was a student and around the corner neighbor lived on pettingil rd.he was one of the best teachers and a gray guy if I had an issue I could tell him anything

Condolence from Greg Poirier on May 15th, 2020 3:02 am

Farewell Mr.Gazzola. Thanks.

Condolence from Matthew Grauer on May 15th, 2020 5:16 am

I am deeply saddened after reading of Mr G’s passing. My most sincere condolences go to Mr G’s family. I haven’t seen him in 30 years but I think of him frequently and the things he taught me.
Nearly every time I work a piece of metal, thoughts would go back 30 years ago to Mr G in his blue shop coat and New York accent, especially when I use a file. Making a round hole in a piece of 1” A2 into a slot using a drill bit and a round file , two days later the hickory handle finally fit into that hammerhead. 🙂 or every time I use an adjustable Cresent wrench, for which I probably wouldn’t know to this day that there is a proper direction to use a simple adjustable wrench to tighten a nut. I most likely would not have a love for Feta cheese on my salads if we had never crossed paths. 🙂
He not not only taught shop but he had a way of teaching life lessons while he did it. There were very few teachers and professors that have made an impact in my life and no doubt one of the only ones my thoughts go back to at least weekly. He was surely one of them.
Rest In Peace Mr G!

Condolence from Chris mailhot on May 15th, 2020 5:44 am

Mr g. Was by far my favorite teacher of all time. Learned more than just woodworking and metal fabrication skills from him, as he always threw in a good life lesson here and there. He will be dearly missed by many students of killingly high school.

Condolence from Orville Terwilleger Jr. on May 15th, 2020 7:11 am

So sorry for your loss Diana and family. Mr G. was a huge influence in my life during my high school years. He was a friend that I could always talk to as well as a terrific mentor. He will be sorely missed.

Condolence from Rich May on May 15th, 2020 7:50 am

Rest In Peace Mr. G. One of the best teachers at Killingly High. Always genuine. Always caring. Always real. May his family find peace during this difficult time.

Condolence from Ted and Hilda Edmond on May 15th, 2020 8:03 am

So sorry to hear about Bill. We are not family but we are neighbors. It is good that he has a large family who love and care about him. He will be missed.

Condolence from Darby on May 15th, 2020 8:14 am

Mr. G, as he was affectionately known as by his students, was not only my teacher but my neighbor as well. Whenever we walked by his house on that dirt road on the other side of the pond, he always offered a friendly greeting and never shied away from sharing a tidbit of wisdom to us neighboring kids. His two sons, Adam and Chris, were classmates and friends, and it is my sincerest hope that they and their families will be comforted by the outpouring of condolences from this people who not adored Mr. G as a teacher but also from those of us who called him friend.

Condolence from Wayne Leclaire on May 15th, 2020 8:14 am

Mr. G was my favorite teacher in the 80’s
god bless

Condolence from Laura Pelletier (Barks) on May 15th, 2020 8:33 am

Mr. G was one of my favorite teachers, I only had him for one photography class in high school, but the time spent in his class was memorable to say the least. Rest peacefully teacher…

Condolence from Ryan H on May 15th, 2020 9:07 am

My condolences to the family. He is a bright spot in a high school experience that is all but forgot to me. He showed me that being an adult didn’t mean you had to be boring.

Condolence from Thomas Grzysiewicz on May 15th, 2020 9:18 am

My deepest sympathy and condolences. He was a great man, father and teacher. In 1984 he was my teacher at KHS. He will be missed.

Condolence from Jay Swan on May 15th, 2020 9:40 am

Diana, So sorry to hear. Bill was a great guy !

Condolence from Nancy on May 15th, 2020 9:51 am

I remember me g from Killingly high he was one of only teachers I like and for that matter remembered he was only educated to get me interested in my studies and just his caring nature seemed to care that I did well, at a time I didn’t have faith in myself for that I’ll always be thankful to him and will remember him rip Mr g thank you

Condolence from Janet and John Hallbergh on May 15th, 2020 9:55 am

Diana, Chris, Adam and Family,
We are very sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. We are very fortunate to have know Bill and enjoyed our many conversations with him. We offer our sincere sympathy to all of you. May you all find peace and Bill find eternal happiness.

Condolence from Tyler H on May 15th, 2020 11:03 am

My deepest sympathy for the whole family. Mr. Gazzola was my favorite teacher in high school. I spent year after year learning woodworking from him. He never had a bad day, and was constantly joking, laughing, and giving me a new nickname daily. Often when I had study hall, I would sneak out just so I could have a chance to learn more, and hang out and help with his class. He really set a great example for young people who are at a difficult crossroad in life about to enter the world. To this day I still utilize the skills he taught, but also the wisdom he imbedded that gives me confidence. Everyone loved Mr. G, and I will sorely miss him. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to have been his student.

Condolence from Shelley & Art Spar on May 15th, 2020 11:23 am

Bill was a true Rennaisance man. He will be greatly missed.

Condolence from Ed Larrow on May 15th, 2020 11:46 am

If I had to describe Mr G with 1 word, COOL.
It wasn’t a week ago I listed to Jethro Tull and could go back to his classroom, sitting on a stool having my classmates draw me.
Thoughts and Prayers

Condolence from Chris Jodoin on May 15th, 2020 12:00 pm

I don’t know where I’d be today if it weren’t for Mr.G. I was a troubled teen in high school who rarely attended until I met him as my metals tech teacher. He helped me not only stay in school and graduate but had shared so many life lessons that I even today still use. I think of him often and just hope that he knew just how special of a guy he was. He helped a lot of kids through difficult times and genuinely cared. My condolences to his family and friends. Rest easy Mr.G

Condolence from Jason Kirkconnell on May 15th, 2020 1:13 pm

Mr. G was indeed one of the best. He challenged those that needed it and was always there to talk to those that were heading in a wrong direction. While it came off a little goofy sometimes he always put himself in the kids shoes and would act out the part to get on their level. He is and will always be one of my greatest teachers not just in working with metals but working through life and that fork in the road. God speed Mr. G.

Condolence from Robert theroux on May 15th, 2020 1:59 pm

Rest in pease mr. g I loved having him as a teacher . Till this day I still work with my hands building and making things . I used to love wood shop and metal shop . He made it fun . I’m sure he gave a direction to a lot of young adults . Prayers to his entire family for your loss of a really good person and teacher.

Condolence from Melina, Jay, Emma, Tess and Lily on May 15th, 2020 4:50 pm

Bill was a constant in our beloved Wellfleet. What a gift to have him as our friend and neighbor. Life will not be the same without him there to greet us with his infectious smile. I will always be grateful for his clamming lessons. Diana and family I don’t have to tell you how special your husband/dad was, just take a look at all the lives he touched! He will be so missed!

Condolence from Jude Bernard on May 15th, 2020 6:09 pm

Diana, Chris and all family members, I just learned today, May 15 of the loss of Bill. When I mentioned the loss of Bill, my son, Stephen, immediately spoke of his generous nature, loving spirit and his vast range of knowledge and concern for all. I saw these same characteristics in his son, Chris, who I became to know when he taught in the same school with me. Your life lights up when Chris entered your life, I also am blessed to call Chris a friend.
Bill will now live on with his family and his grandchildren. His loss is unmeasurable, but his goodness and love of knowledge will be carried forward by them.
Jude Bernard

Condolence from Robin Rickey Smith on May 15th, 2020 8:12 pm

Mr Gazzola would brighten a room with his beautiful smile and laugh. I always enjoyed his charming personality. He always offered great advice … which as teenagers in high school we definitely needed it. Heaven has gained a genuine angel!
You will be missed .

Condolence from Pam on May 15th, 2020 9:01 pm

Bills smile was frequent and contagious. He always had a good word for everyone. I worked in the wing on the opposite side of Killingly High from him. Wish I’d been able to spend more time at school nearer his neck of the building. The picture posted here is the guy I remember so well. I will miss that smile. Condolences to Diana, Chris and Adam and the rest of his family.

Condolence from Ernest Dodge on May 15th, 2020 10:42 pm

I am very sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. He was my colleague and my friend for many, many years. He was one of the most genuine and authentic teachers I worked with and a very good friend and writer who always had good advice for others in their work. He was always a person one could count on. I give my sympathy to Diana, Chris, and Adam and all their families. I will think of him often as a good friend and great man.

Condolence from Peter Lusa on May 15th, 2020 10:48 pm

Diana, Chris and Adam, I am sorry for your loss. Bill was a great human being. He had a zest for life that was infectious to those of us who were lucky to be around him. Every encounter with Bill was wonderful. KHS was different, and quite a bit emptier, when he retired.
Bill, I miss you.

Condolence from Ann Rosebrooks on May 16th, 2020 7:10 am

Sorry to read about Bill’s death. I haven’t seen him in years but have fond memories of him. Hope your family will have good memories to sustain you all .

Condolence from Margaret Gazzola on May 16th, 2020 1:51 pm

RIP My dear Big Brother………Until we Meet again ^j^ Prayers for healing Diana Chris Adam and family xoxo

Condolence from Gretchen LaHaie on May 16th, 2020 2:24 pm

Chris, Kelly, Chloe and Mae,
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this very difficult time.

Condolence from Linnea L Sarantopoulos on May 16th, 2020 5:49 pm

I was so fortunate to have known Bill as a friend and colleague. We did some collaboration together with KHS and KJHS. He always had a smile on his face and was one who was truly committed to his students. Just reading previous condolences is evidence of the love and respect his students had for him. It is my hope that Chris, Adam and family can find peace in the days ahead. Rest in peace Bill.

Condolence from Ma gallagher on May 17th, 2020 8:21 am

Found east hamtpon memories of Bill. May he rest in peace

Condolence from Shirley Babbitt on May 17th, 2020 2:51 pm

So sorry for your loss. He was a great person and teacher.

Condolence from Susan Hochstetter on May 17th, 2020 3:17 pm

Diana, Bob and I were saddened to read of Bills death. We still talk about the good old days as instructors at PR&G. I remember the fun we had at those classes. I think of you more often than you know. Our hearts go out to you.
With sincerest sympathy.
Bob and Sue

Condolence from Deborah Bai-Lannon on May 19th, 2020 2:42 pm

Bill took a young, inexperienced photography teacher at KHS under his wing, and taught her how to deal with kids. Every day for three years from 1978-1981, he opened the door between his shop and her darkroom, poked his head through and said “Good morning, Miss Bai.” And she knew the world was good, just because he was in it.
After school (and because he was Bill), they’d often have long, meandering conversations about art, music, books, and of course – the meaning of life. He always told her that Diana, Chris and Adam were the deepest parts of his own being, and it was a lesson the young teacher took into her own life when she married, and Bill and Diana attended her wedding.
Now forty years later at word of his passing, that not-so-young-anymore teacher remembers him fondly. To her, he was Spirit, Light, Joy and Love, and it was a privilege to call him “friend”.
With much affection to Diana, Chris and Adam –
Miss Bai

Condolence from Jon Andersen on May 26th, 2020 12:51 pm

I am not at all surprised to read so many warm memories of Mr. Gazzola from family, friends, colleagues, and former students. I deeply appreciate to have known him, and will not forge his great laugh, ability to spin a yarn, and generous help answering a crazy project question or keeping some old flivver running down the road. Denise and I send condolences to the whole Gazzola family.

Condolence from Richard Peloquin on June 19th, 2020 9:19 am

Dear Diana, Chris, and Adam,

It looked like Billy walking slowly on Vallery Road a few weeks ago. He seemed to know me and wanted to stop to ask but neglected to call for him until today. The familiar phone number was disconnected.

My first memory of Bill goes back almost 50 years to a carefully lettered sign: OYSTERS CLAMS SEAFOOD
Bill was in the backseat of the Honda on several trips to Goddard College.
Fearful of his young sons playing near Beaman Road, he strategically dug potholes to slow speeders.
In the backyard of his former NYC home, a sliver of land allowed naked sunbathing.
Bill was remarkably clever.

You are a fine family.

Kindest regards,


Condolence from Richard Jerr on June 19th, 2020 10:18 pm

Bill was one of my first mentors and a memorable colleague at KHS! He was a man of few, but powerful words, and shared his insights and wisdom regarding this game of life with others freely. A good man, indeed! Condolences to the family especially my former colleague, Chris.

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