NAUGATUCK — Joseph T. Connolly, 92, beloved husband of Mary (Hanlon) Connolly, passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Waterbury on Dec. 28, 1928, he was the son of the late Thomas J. and Mary (Whelan) Connolly. Joe was a lifelong Naugatuck resident and graduate of Naugatuck High School, class of 1946. He went on to graduate from the University of Connecticut and earn his advanced degrees at Fairfield University.
Joe began his teaching career at Central Avenue School, where he was the first male teacher at a Naugatuck grammar school. He later taught math and music at both Hillside School and City Hill Middle School, where he became principal in 1976. His total service in education was more than
38 years, all in his hometown of Naugatuck.
Joe proudly served in the United States Navy. He enlisted in 1951, completed Officer Candidate School, and served four years of active duty. He retired from the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander. Joe was proud of his grandsons, who shared his military service: Brock Michaud, who served two tours in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan as a FMF corpsman in the Navy, and Kerry Michaud, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and is currently a lieutenant commander stationed in Virginia.
Joe met his loving wife, Mary, at Nava Ski Club, where he was a longtime member and past president. He was also a ski instructor at Marchand Ski School at Mohawk Mountain. He passed his passion for the sport onto his family. Joe was a lifelong musician, always passionate about music, and was a Broadway aficionado. He was a charter member and past president of the Connecticut Choral Society, a member of the American Guild of Organists Waterbury Chapter, as well as organist and choir director at St. Mary’s Church in Naugatuck for nearly 70 years. He was a proud member of the Naugatuck AOH, and served as Irish mayor of the day along with his wife, Mary. As an avid traveler, he enjoyed going on cruises and spending time at his vacation home in Vermont. In retirement, ever the mathematician, Joe created exquisite quilts for his family.
In addition to his loving wife, Mary, Joe is survived by his children, Joseph T. Connolly and his wife, Paula, of Middlebury, Christine Connolly of Naugatuck, Kathleen Michaud and her husband, Paul, of Conover, N.C., Mauralee Connolly of Waterbury, and Francis Connolly and his wife, Melissa, of Cheshire; his 11 grandchildren, Brock Michaud, Kerry Michaud and his wife, Ashley, Erin Sigman and her husband, Justin, Aisling, Ciara and Fiona Connolly, Kyleigh and Cailynn Connolly, Brendan and Sydney Connolly, and Liam Connolly; his six great-grandchildren, Phoenix and Jason Michaud, Rhen Mae and Gunnar Sigman, and Rykin and Kinley Michaud; cousin, Kenneth Slawski of Waterbury; sisters and brothers-in-law, Sheila and Richard Collette of Waterbury, and Patricia Wilson of Marlborough. He was predeceased by his aunt and uncle, Lena and Walter Slawski. Joe was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and was loved by his large extended family and many friends.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, March 1, 2021 at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 910 Main St., Southbury. Those attending are asked to please meet at the church at 10:45 a.m. Burial with military honors will follow in St. James Cemetery in Naugatuck. Walk-through calling hours will be held on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 4-7 p.m. at the Naugatuck Valley Memorial/Fitzgerald-Zembruski Funeral Home, 240 North Main St., Naugatuck. Members of the Naugatuck Veterans Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the funeral home. Facial masks and social distancing guidelines will be required at all services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joe’s name to Sacred Heart Church in Southbury or the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls.
To send an online condolence, visit www.naugatuckvalleymemorial.com.