Borough family struck hard by losses

The Wilcox family of Naugatuck has suffered tremendous loss over the past two months after the death of matriarch Debbie Wilcox, back left, who died at age 59 in December following a long battle with cancer. Also seen in above photo are her daughters — Kelly, Shannon and Carrie — and her granddaughter, Madison, 5, who is Kelly's daughter. Carrie died Friday at age 30. –CONTRIBUTED

The Wilcox family of Naugatuck has suffered tremendous loss over the past two months after the death of matriarch Debbie Wilcox, back left, who died at age 59 in December following a long battle with cancer. Also seen in above photo are her daughters — Kelly, Shannon and Carrie — and her granddaughter, Madison, 5, who is Kelly’s daughter. Carrie died Friday at age 30. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — How much devastation can one family take?

That is the question being asked about the Wilcox family of Naugatuck after Carrie Wilcox, a 30-year-old Naugatuck police dispatcher, died unexpectedly Jan. 17 at her home.

Her death is hard on the police department, her friends and, most of all, her family, which has suffered tremendous loss over the past two months. On Nov. 24, Carrie’s mother, Debbie Wilcox, died after a long battle with cancer at age 59. Two weeks later, Thomas Wilcox, Debbie’s former husband and the father of her three children, died unexpectedly. He was also 59.

“To us, it’s like we’ve become friends with the people at the funeral home,” said Kelly Mento, Carrie Wilcox’s sister. “It’s awful.”

Friends in the Naugatuck and Greater Waterbury communities are now stepping up to help Mento, 31, her daughter, Madison, 5, and Mento’s sister, Shannon, 33. They are raising money to help offset funeral expenses and other associated costs. A “Go Fund Me” web page has been set up to help the family at www.gofundme.com, search term “We support the Wilcox girls.”

Carrie Wilcox had medical complications since she recently had gall bladder surgery. She had a bowel obstruction for which she recently had a second surgery, and she was scheduled for a third surgery.

“She wasn’t showing signs of sickness, though,” Mento said. “She was on IVs at home and was going to have the obstruction removed, and everything was supposed to be OK.”

Mento arrived home late Friday night and found her dead.

The loss of Debbie, the borough’s former longtime animal control officer, was its own kind of surprise. Even though she was sick, she was showing serious signs of improvement until October, when the cancer spread to her brain. She died three weeks after she learned the cancer had spread.

“That was devastating because it was so sudden,” Mento said. “And now this feels the same.”

She described her sister as a caring person who loved music, her family and her co-workers. Wilcox took pride in her job, which helped to keep people of Naugatuck safe, Mento said.

The job of dispatcher also keeps officers safe, and Wilcox was great at her job, said police Lt. Bryan Cammarata, Naugatuck police spokesman.

“She was very conscientious about giving the officers the information they need to go on a call,” he said. “The job of dispatcher is every bit as important as an officer, and she took to the job very early. She always gave 100 percent.”

He said Wilcox was compassionate to people she knew and the people whom she dealt with in her job.

“There is not a person in the department who hasn’t been intensely affected by her death,” he said. “It will be difficult to not only replace her as a dispatcher, but also to replace her personality and all of the wonderful traits she had.”

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