Friday, February 19, 2010

Tony Bracha - Old Friend

My old friend, Anthony J. Bracha, passed away Wednesday at the ripe old age of 93. Known as “Tony” to one and all, he and his wife Ethel took up residence in the mid 1970s in their once summer cottage on Lake Drive in East Hampton, departing his home town of New Britain. Although retiring as an UAW Organizing Representative in 1977, life was just beginning for this affable fellow. Lifelong Democrats, Tony and Ethel became involved in local politics and within months, Tony was elected with his Democratic running mates, Eaton E. Smith and Rowland Beauleau, Sr. as majority members of our Board of Selectmen.

From East Hampton Democrats campaign brochure in 1977.

Tony at Democratic Headquarters.

Along with the likes of Gov. William “Bill” O’Neill, Raymond “Deke” Thatcher, Eaton E. Smith, my parents Donald and Pauline Markham, and some other friends such as William “Bill” MacDonald, John O’Neil, Charles Nichols and Anthony “Tony” Flannery, Tony Bracha was one of my early political mentors. As I look back at my own experiences and success, I am eternally grateful to the many, many people who worked for my campaigns, contributed funds, knocked on doors, and cooked or served meals for our famous “All you can eat for $5 - family spaghetti dinners!”

Paul and Elaine Puzzo cooking spaghetti in 1984.

Tony also played a very instrumental role that likely made a significant difference in my first campaign in 1978 and in the primary I faced in 1980. In 1978, Tony graciously took me to meet John Flynn, President of the United Auto Workers, lobbying him to support my candidacy. With Tony’s personal support, the UAW endorsed my candidacy, and that I’m convinced, made a significant difference in that first Legislative race.

Memorial Day Parade, 1979, l to r, Rep. Dean Markham, unknown, Selectmen Eaton E. Smith, Anthony J. Bracha, Chief Administrative Officer Eugene Shiller, Board of Finance Chairman James Standish, Selectmen Everett Breace and Mary Ann Barton.

Survived by a loving and caring family of his three daughters and son-in-laws, Patricia and Timothy Kaider who reside in Pennsylvania, Diane and Donald DeFronzo who reside in New Britain and our dear friends, Elaine and Paul Puzzo who reside in East Hampton, Tony also has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Recognizing Tony's retirement from the Board of Selectmen as he and Ethel prepare to move to Florida. Held in Tony's arms is David DeFronzo, son of State Senator Donald DeFronzo and his wife Diane Bracha DeFronzo.

Tony loved to fish. In fact, there have been times when he ventured out upon Lake Pocotopaug as dusk and after several hours, and the pitch black of night enveloping the lake, Elaine would become a bit agitated, strongly suggesting that Paul take the boat out and tow him back to the dock. Inevitably, Tony would pull up dockside with a string of fish. All was well.

Tony’s family and friends will miss him. But we don’t shed tears, but rather smile at having the privilege having known him.

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