NAUGATUCK — Elizabeth B. “Betty” Yanarella, 91, the widow of William D. Yanarella, passed away on Monday, March 7, 2016 in the VITAS Innovative Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital surrounded by her family after living a wonderful and full life.
Betty was born on April 3, 1924, daughter of the late Carl and Delia (Carey) Brennan. She was a lifelong Naugatuck resident, who for the last 50 years has divided her time between her home in Naugatuck and her summer home in Nobleboro, Maine.
Betty gained celebrity status early in Naugatuck, when at the age of 4 she was adopted by the Naugatuck High School basketball team of 1928-1929 as its mascot. Accompanied by her father, Betty traveled by train with the team when it competed in the Eastern Division Championship in Philadelphia and in the National Championship in Chicago.
Betty graduated from St. Francis Grammar School and from Naugatuck High School, Class of 1941. She attended the College of New Rochelle and Columbia University, where she was class president at the school of dental hygiene. After 20 years working in private dental practices, Betty continued her education attaining both her bachelors and master’s degrees in education from the University of Bridgeport. Betty then continued her career working as the dental hygienist for many years in the Naugatuck School System.
As a volunteer in the local community she along with her husband Bill were the first presidents of the St. Francis School Parent’s Club. She was active as a Girl Scout leader in both Naugatuck and Oxford and served as a Cub Scout den mother. Betty was a former president of the Naugatuck Women’s Study Club, and a former board member of the Naugatuck Campership Fund. She was also a volunteer at the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank. Through the Salvation Army, Betty was instrumental in establishing a dental program so that disadvantaged children could receive proper dental care. She was a recipient of the Raymond K. Foley Award in 1983. Betty was a communicant of St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Betty is survived by her son, Mark Yanarella and his wife Nikki; her son, Drew Yanarella; and her son, Kean Yanarella; her grandchildren, Christian Yanarella, Matthew Yanarella, Kenna Carlucci, Brennan Yanarella, and Keanne Razowski; her great-grandchildren, Emilia Yanarella and Gianna Carlucci, and several nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband and her parents, Betty was predeceased by her brother, Andrew Brennan.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., Naugatuck. Everyone planning to attend Mass is kindly asked to go directly to church. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery. Calling hours are Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., Naugatuck.
To honor Betty’s memory, contributions may be made to the Naugatuck Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1717, Naugatuck, CT 06770, or to the Howard Whittemore Memorial Library, Children’s Department, 243 Church St., Naugatuck, CT 06770.
To leave an online condolence, visit www.buckmillerthurstonmengacci.com.