Obituary of Eloise Marcella Cecchinato Koneazny

Eloise Koneazny

Eloise Marcella Cecchinato Koneazny, 93, of New Marlborough, MA and Picayune, MS entered eternal rest on July 2, at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington, MA after a brief illness.

Born in Torrington, CT on July 30, 1930 to immigrant parents Nichola and Margherita Cecchinato, Eloise grew up in a close-knit Italian family that was not only dedicated to hard work but to assimilating into the American way of life. Yet she and her family never lost their values as Italian-Americans and honored such timeworn traditions as hosting gnocchi parties featuring accordion playing and dancing. Eloise was also a bit of a non-conformist. When in grade school, she refused to get off the “big kids” bus because her older brothers were on it, and she didn’t want to walk 3 miles in the cold. Her first sit-in. This was perhaps a precursor to her participation in the pro-life rescue movement in the late 1980’s where she joined countless others in blocking abortion clinics with her husband and 4 children.

During her high school years, Eloise was active in the local softball team, archery and bowling league. After graduating from Housatonic Valley Regional High School in 1948, Eloise’s secretarial skills were so exceptional that she was recommended by her teacher for the position of  secretary to the President of Canaan National Bank and had the distinction of being the first Italian-American to be employed there.

She met her future husband, William C. Koneazny, at a minstrel show he was performing in at the Colonial Theater in Canaan, CT.  He was also the host of a radio show, “The Bill Wicki Hour” which she found obnoxious and would plan her vacuuming around. When she met him at the show, she still thought he was a smart aleck, but she was intrigued and started inquiring around to see who he was dating. When everyone asked named a different girl, she decided to enter the mix.  On October 2, 1954 she married Bill at St. Joseph Church in Canaan, CT and went on to raise four children.  Besides working as the first secretary for the founder of Jenifer House, she managed the day-to-day operations for her husband’s tree business, Peerless Tree Company, for over 40 years. As a couple, they also worked together in the pest-control division of their company until they were nearly 60 years old, spraying against the infestation of the Gypsy Moth which was very prevalent at the time.

Eloise was a woman of many talents. Not only was she a  dedicated wife, mother and grandmother, but she was also an excellent cook (her spaghetti & chicken dinners are known and loved by all family and friends) and baker.  As a self-taught wedding cake specialist, she made unique and beautiful cakes over the years.  Along with her husband, she operated Candlelight Catering. The food they produced was far from ordinary, and their reputation as caterers was known throughout Eastern Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. The couple also ran “Pearly Gates Saloon”, the legendary nightclub and restaurant in Sheffield, MA.

Eloise and Bill traveled extensively throughout Europe, Mexico and the Holy Land visiting many of the great Catholic pilgrimage sites including Fatima, Lourdes, Compostela, and Rome. She always kept a prayer list with her and remembered the countless intentions presented to her by family and friends. For a number of years she and her husband worked with missionary priests in the mountains of Mexico, spearheading an operation to provide funds to build simple houses for some of the country’s poorest.

Eloise was a very active lady with boundless energy and was known for her wit, charm and graciousness.  Whether she was hosting a party for 100 people in Canaan Valley or an intimate dinner for 4, she was the epitome of the perfect hostess.  She had a special way of making you feel that you were the one person she wanted to see or hear from.  Old friends will remember her sweet rendition of her signature song, “I’m Waiting For a Letter From My Baby” at some of these gatherings.

Well known for her sense of fashion, it was not uncommon to find Eloise in high heels painting window trim at her house or mowing the lawn. She was one of the few people who could wear a leopard-patterned outfit to weed her garden and not look out of place.

She was predeceased by her husband, Bill, her son Joseph, her siblings Nicholas, Anthony, and Louis Cecchinato, and her daughter-in-law Sharon (neé Smithwick) Koneazny. She is survived by her four children, Jean (Patrick) Pollock, Joan (Wayne) Lempka, Jenifer (Mark) Clarke and James Koneazny,  28 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren, her dear sister, Clementine “Bunny” McGuire, and numerous nieces and nephews. She also leaves behind an entourage of dedicated friends both at home and in Mississippi .

Calling hours will take place on Friday, July 12 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at Birches-Roy Funeral Home, 33 South Street, Great Barrington, MA. The rosary will be recited at 7:45. A Traditional Latin funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, July 13 at 10:00 am at the funeral home. Burial will be immediately following the Mass at St. Joseph Cemetery, Canaan, CT.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting Traditional Latin Masses be offered for the repose of her soul by sending free-will donations to either Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 422 Fairview Avenue, Hudson, NY, 12534 or Christ The King Church, 209 Tackora Trail, Ridgefield, CT 06877.

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