NAUGATUCK — Michael F. Rizzuti, 91, husband of the late Lois (Smith) Rizzuti, passed away peacefully Dec. 30, 2015.
Mike was born on May 23, 1924 in Waterbury, the son of the late Sam and Anna (Triano) Rizzuti. His family moved to Naugatuck in 1932 and he has resided there ever since.
Mike graduated from Naugatuck High School in 1942, and in 1942 he went to work at the Naugatuck Chemical Company until 1944 when he went into the United States Army. During World War II, he served with the 1st Infantry Division in European Theatre of operation. He received an honorable discharge in 1946 with rank of S/Sgt. Upon exiting the army, he went back to work at the Naugatuck Chemical Company until 1948. From 1948-1950 he attended Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, majoring in social science. From 1950-1952, he attended the University of Bridgeport where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in sociology. From 1952-1953 he worked as a case worker in the welfare department for the State of Connecticut. During the years 1953-1956, he was the welfare superintendent for the Borough of Naugatuck. He was responsible for the day to day coordination of services and payments to local residents receiving welfare payments. He provided individual counseling and referrals to other community services. While at his job, he attended the University of Connecticut School of Social Work part time, studying in social work and earning 12 credits. In 1956 he resigned as Naugatuck’s welfare superintendent to take on the position of probation officer for the State of Connecticut in the Waterbury Department of Adult Probation office. He was responsible for pre-sentence investigation report, client contact and supervision of persons on probation. Duties included developing a personal and social historical record of the individual and compilation of that information, supervision of adult offenders placed on probation and referral of clients to other community resources. He continued in this position until 1962 when he became chief probation officer for the State of Connecticut, Waterbury/New Haven Department of Adult Probation. In that position, he was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the regional office, staff and client caseload. He coordinated activities with judges, prosecutors, state officials, attorneys and clients. He administered state policy and judicial mandates of the State of Connecticut. As C.P.O., he also maintained a client case load and all responsibilities and duties of a probation officer. He prepared weekly and monthly reports, supervised staff and assigned caseloads. He acted as liaison with all enforcement and judicial personnel coming in contact with the department. Mike was responsible for the training of all new personnel and the periodic evaluation of professional and clerical staff assigned to the office. Mike retired in 1985.
Mike has belonged to many various organizations and affiliations. He is a former member of the following: the National Crime and Delinquency Association; the Exchange Club of Naugatuck; the Board of Directors, Alcoholic Service Association, New Haven County; Regional Advisory Council for Connecticut Community Colleges; Naugatuck Commission; Morris Foundation for Alcoholism in Waterbury; Connecticut Welfare Association; American Red Cross, Naugatuck Chapter Volunteer; former member of Board of Directors and past chairman of service to military families; Family Association volunteer, former board of directors member and chairman of the Naugatuck section Human Resource Development Agency, vice chairman 1983-1984 and chairman 1982-1983.
Mike was a member of the American Legion Post 17; V.F.W. Crusader Post 1946; and a service officer for 18 years and received life membership in 1965 B.P.O. Elks, Lodge #967; Cristoforo Colombo Society; American Philatelic Society; Disabled American Veterans, life member; Society of 1st Infantry Division; Connecticut Probation and Parole Association, honorable member; Connecticut State Employees Association; and the Order of the Sons of Italy of America and a former member of the Municipal Agent’s Advisory Committee for the town of Naugatuck.
As far as volunteer positions during his life, his motto always was, and still is, “Volunteering is the rent you pay for the space you occupy.” That was heard during a Red Cross meeting he attended as a volunteer and stayed with him for life. On May 1, 1997, Mike was awarded the Liberty Bell Award by the Greater Waterbury Bar Association for commitment to volunteerism.
One of his major commitments as a volunteer was to Help Incorporated of Greater Waterbury Area. This corporation’s program assists women and men in their own recoveries from substance abuse or sustained dependence disorders and from chronic psychiatric disabilities. He served on the Help Incorporated Board of Directors for 16 uninterrupted years. For that, they presented Mike with a plaque in 2000 for his years of volunteer service with this organization.
Mike’s major involvement as a volunteer has been with the Naugatuck Housing Authority. He had been with the Naugatuck Housing Authority from 1973-1983 and 1985-1999. He served as chairman of the Housing Authority in 1981-1983, 1986-1987, 1990-1992 and 1994-1999. During all the years he was involved with the Naugatuck Housing Authority, he missed only two meetings out of the 300 that had been held during his tenure.
Mike is survived by his sister, Rose (Rizzuti) Hassen of Waterford, and his nephew, Robert Hassen of Waterford, and several cousins in the greater Naugatuck area.
The funeral will be held Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 at 9:15 a.m. from the Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., to St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016 from 4 to 6 p.m.
To leave an online condolence, visit www.buckmillerthurstonmengacci.com.