Irene M. (Varanelli) Summa, 86, formerly of Naugatuck and Torrington, passed away Oct. 1, 2017 at the Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Southington. She was born on Jan. 1, 1931, the daughter of the late Anthony and Concetta (Cicchetti) Varanelli of Waterbury.
She lived in Naugatuck from 1949 to 1973 and in Torrington from 1974 to 2015. She worked at the US Rubber Company, at the Dunn Bus Company, as a driver training instructor, as a barber-stylist instructor at the Connecticut Institute of Hair Design (all in Naugatuck) and as a barber-stylist in her own business at Irene’s Lil’ Hairhouse in Torrington. She won a number of styling awards in haircutting competitions throughout her career.
She had a tremendous sense of humor. It was often demonstrated as she enjoyed being a key member of the Smile Awhile show group that performed song and dance routines at senior centers all around central Connecticut. Her comedic numbers were a compliment to her performances of Sophie Tucker songs. She enjoyed ballroom dancing and was an active participant locally for over 25 years. She was a big-hearted friend to many and was always in the middle of activities lighting up countless gatherings with her sense of humor and her big personality. As a young mother she was heavily involved in her three children’s sports careers. She wrote swimming articles for the Naugatuck Daily News in the 1960s. In later years, she found great enjoyment in “notifying” friends that she had three children inducted into the Naugatuck Sports Hall of Fame. She was a lifetime New York Yankees fan and absolutely loved the UConn women’s basketball team; she watched every televised game. As she stated many times, “I really liked watching that Italian girl Taurasi.” She was a member of St. Francis Church in Naugatuck and also later a member of St. Paul’s Church in Torrington.
Irene was predeceased by her first husband, Joseph E. Summa of Naugatuck, and more recently by her second husband, Robert Whitehead of Torrington. She is survived by her three children. Daughter JoAnn Summa and partner, Jabe Luttrell, of Key West, Fla, daughter Doreen Summa and husband, Lou Feniola, of Berlin, and son Bob Summa and his wife, Louise, of Brooklyn. Four grandsons, Jason Garelli of Washington D.C., Jamie Garelli and wife, Alexia, of Huntington Beach, Calif., Joshua Berry and wife, Stephanie, of Madison, Matthew Berry and wife, Alynn, of Barnstable, Mass. She also has four great-grandchildren, Clare, Finnbar, Cole, and Dylan Berry.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., Naugatuck. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery, Cross Street, Naugatuck. Calling hours are Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Resource Center, 1261 South Main St., Plantsville, CT 06479.
Condolences may be shared at www.buckmillerthurstonmengacci.com.