Former Beacon Falls tax collector fondly remembered

Richard Zollo

BEACON FALLS — Richard “Dick” Zollo, a former Beacon Falls tax collector known for his singing voice and frequent traveling, died June 11 at the age of 98.

Zollo was born on Oct. 21, 1920 in Beacon Falls, grew up here and lived here for most of his life, serving as tax collector for 35 years. He also owned two small businesses in the town — a dry cleaner and a steel drum store.

He and his wife, Eva, raised their 10 children in Beacon Falls. Selectman Michael Krenesky said the family was “well-ingrained” in the town.

“It was a very large family, with lots of aunts and uncles and grandkids and cousins,” Krenesky said.

Despite the long hours he worked, Zollo always spent time with his children. His son Mike remembers his father taking him and his siblings to town basketball and baseball games on the weekends, then occasionally buying them McDonald’s after the game.

Dick Zollo was also known for his singing voice. When he was in high school, he and his friends formed the musical group “The Three Sailors,” performing between movies at the former State Theater in Waterbury. And every Christmas Eve, Mike Zollo said, his father would sing at their neighborhood church’s midnight Mass, after which churchgoers would spill out of the church and into the Zollos’ house to celebrate the holiday.

Dick Zollo’s nephew, Jim Zebora, remembered his uncle “entrancing” the audience with a performance of “Ave Maria” at a family wedding.

“We were paying attention to the altar and watching the beautiful ceremony, and all of a sudden from the back of the church this amazing voice rang out,” Zebora said. “And I hadn’t realized, but my cousins had arranged for Dick to sing for them at (the) wedding. And it was one of the most beautiful, glorious moments when he sang ‘Ave Maria’ at this wonderful ceremony. He had a voice that carried throughout the church.”

Throughout his life, Dick Zollo was an avid traveler. Mike Zollo said growing up, his family typically took two camping trips each summer — one in Connecticut and one out of state. After their children moved to Hawaii, California, New Mexico and other states, Dick and Eva Zollo constantly visited them.

When Dick Zollo retired at age 65, he and Eva Zollo moved to Port St. Lucie, Fla. Mike Zollo said his parents decided on the town after visiting close friends who had moved there a couple years earlier.

“They liked the place and they knew that their friends were there, so that’s why they moved there,” Mike Zollo said.

Mike Zollo said he hopes people remember his father as someone who always had a smile on his face.

“He just loved having people over and visiting and spending time with family and friends,” Mike Zollo said. “He adored his family and we all adored him.”