By Elio Gugliotti and Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Hillside Avenue is known for its brick section that curves around Hillside Intermediate School. Now, this historic section of the street will be known by a new name — Scheithes Way.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the borough has renamed the brick section of the road Scheithes Way as a tribute to Fred and Jeanne Scheithe, longtime educators in the borough.
Fred Scheithe died April 12 at the age of 72 after a six-year battle with cancer.
Fred and Jeanne Scheithe met at Hillside Middle School in 1977 and married in 1983. They both taught in Naugatuck for more than 30 years — Fred taught for 39 years (32 at Hillside) and Jeanne taught for 33 years (25 at Hillside). They also were involved in youth athletics in the borough for close to four decades.
Fred Scheithe coached basketball and softball at Hillside. After the borough’s middle schools merged, he spent the last nine seasons coaching at City Hill Middle School, with Jeanne Scheithe by his side.
Fred Scheithe also coached volleyball and softball at Naugatuck High School. He coached volleyball for 24 seasons, 10 as an assistant coach and 14 more as the head coach, and spent 17 years as an assistant softball coach.
“There’s no question that Fred and Jeanne Scheithe are both quintessential Naugatuckians who perfectly represent the concept of Naugatuck pride,” Hess said.
Fred Scheithe’s death reverberated throughout the borough. Two days before he died, a car caravan that lasted for close to ten minutes drove by the Scheithes’ home to honor him as he watched from his front porch.
“I was so happy that he was able to see the car caravan, that was just an incredible outpouring of love, and it meant so much to us,” Jeanne Scheithe said. “I was able to show him all the letters and cards the kids wrote to him and read him all the Facebook posts. So, I’m glad he was able to see all that.”
Jeanne Scheithe said she was speechless when she found out the borough designated the brick section of Hillside Avenue Scheithes Way. She called it an amazing tribute to Fred.
“Fred touched so many lives,” she said. “It’s just incredible how this town has reacted to that. You can’t even count the amount of lives he’s touched.”
Hess said the borough is planning to hold a renaming ceremony when it’s safe to do so, considering the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the borough is also looking into selling memorial bricks for the road as a fundraising campaign.
“We want it to be a very strong tribute to Fred and Jeanne,” Hess said.
Hess said resident Nancy Buckmiller is coordinating the volunteer effort to organize a ceremony, and 30 to 40 people have already expressed interest in helping out.
The brick road was laid in 1922 with about 170,000 bricks specially designed to give horses traction on the steep slope. Industrialist John H. Whittemore donated the Hillside building to the borough. The school was built in 1905 in the shape of a classical temple, and was restored in the 1960s after a fire.
The borough is looking to eventually make repairs to Hillside Avenue, including the brick portion. Over the years, some bricks have crumbled and drainage issues have caused the cement underneath to deteriorate, creating wavy bumps in the road.
Hess said the plan is to maintain the brick section of the road. He said the historic nature of the road and building was part of the reason he felt renaming that section Scheithes Way made a great tribute.
“It’s part of the heart and soul of Naugatuck,” he said.