Roy Joseph Rotella was born on March 10, 1927, the youngest of eight children, to parents Mariano and Carmella who immigrated to Rutland from Randazzo, Sicily. Roy lived an exceptionally beautiful life, mostly for others and his family, and those who knew him well believe that he aspired to live in imitation of Christ. This is a tribute to Roy and that life.
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On December 27, 2012, Roy entered Heaven and is now seated with the Father and those loved ones who went before him, especially his beloved Claire. He suffered his painful final illness against cancer, without any semblance of complaint, and faced death with characteristic fortitude. In so many respects, Roy was as strong as life itself.
Roy was a gift of joy to all who knew him. Kind, humble, always warmly available to others, he was nicknamed "The Rock" as a young man. He lived up to the compliment. While always peaceful and content, Roy had an electric smile. He was effervescent but also thoughtful and meek. Although his name means "King," and to us he was one, he was simple and uncomplicated, never seeking accolades, grandeur or praise. Roy was filled with great abundant goodness.
During World War II, Roy chose to serve his country and left high school for the Navy. Honorably discharged on July 8, 1946, he returned to Mount St. Joseph Academy and that year played on its first state championship football team. Afterwards, MSJ vs. Rutland High Veteran's Day game would remain his favorite. His interest, enthusiasm and support for MSJ and the Sisters of Saint Joseph would never wane.
Roy began his working life as a carpenter, building a reputation for meticulous, perfectly finished work. In 1950, he married his sweetheart, Mary Claire Kelley, and they bore four children, Gary, William, Jo-Ann and Michael. To their children, as to so many others, Roy was the ultimate role model. Roy and Claire were married for fifty eight years in this world, and forever in the next.
In 1959, Roy redirected his energies and began to develop the building supply business that became Rotella Building Materials, Inc. and the associated Rotella Kitchen & Bath Design, both located on the historic Smith Lumber Company site. Hard, honest work was Roy's mantra, and, over the next many years, the building supply business flourished and expanded.
Roy became renowned for his personal service and attention to the most ordinary or obscure customer needs, large and small. His priority of customer satisfaction became the company's benchmark and led to his being named 1993 Lumber Person of the Year by the Vermont Retail Lumber Dealer Association, which cited him "For His Outstanding Contributions To The Lumber Building Materials Industry."
Roy and his beloved wife, Claire, who passed away on September 21, 2008, created a warm and inviting world for those around them, and their wholesome energy, kindness, generosity and affection, along with their love of one another and for family and friends resounded in the fireworks display that lit the Rutland skies in celebration of their milestone Fiftieth Anniversary. Always young at heart, they preferred to enjoy their time at home with family and friends. There was nothing nicer than a party or a night there with Roy and Claire.
Roy was an active participant in public as well as private life. He served two terms on the Vermont Development Board, appointed by Governor Philip H. Hoff, and was well respected as a long time Rutland Building Inspector. Roy was an active member of the Holy Name Society and Toastmasters, a Fourth Degree Knight Of Columbus, and a proud member of the American Legion, Veterans Of Foreign Wars, Elks and Rotary Clubs.
He served on the Board Of Trustees of The Rutland Savings Bank and the College of Saint Joseph The Provider, and Roy not only played golf at the Rutland County Club, but served on many of its committees, including the Board Of Directors; he was also Acting Greens and Café Committee Chairman. He initiated the Club's beautification efforts and contributed to them in everything from planning to the hands-on work of planting trees and flowers and pulling weeds, consistent with his need to always improve whatever was in front of him.
Roy and his family donated the scoreboard which graces the Northeast side of the Clubhouse. When it was time to tee it up and play, amongst Roy's favorite partners were his brother and best friend, Guido, Sal Salerni and the late John Lemnotis. No one was more pleased than this foursome, when Roy had two holes-in-one in the Summer of 2000.
Important to Roy was his station in the Sicula American Society, founded in the year of his birth, by his father, its first president. Roy, too, became Society president and was equally committed to its cause. He provided office space for the group's Board meetings, led in its efforts to herald Sicilian heritage, and promoted awarding of scholarships and many other good works.
As all of this suggests, Roy led a fully engaged, active, responsive, and responsible life. One of his dreams, a small winery on a beautiful nearby rolling hillside, will reach fruition with its first harvest next fall, a secular communion to echo spiritual ones, and a tribute to his energy and imagination.
Roy and Claire's deep devotion to their faith and church involved many forms of generosity, including the beautiful St. Jude shrine in Christ The King Church on Main Street, which they planned, built and cared for in honor of their commitment to their favored "Patron Saint of hopeless causes." As for the rest, it will take days, weeks, even years to say it all. For now, there's this: To put simply a mystery of faith, God was good to Roy and Roy served Him well, as he also served the family he loved above all else, except for his Maker.
Roy is survived by an enormously loving family, including sisters, Josephine and Dea of Rutland; Sylvia Manez of Massapequa, N.Y.; brother, Guido, his wife Laura of Rutland; and many nieces and nephews throughout the country. He was predeceased by his sisters, Nancy Lemmo, of Waltham, MA; Irene Ryan and Edith Carrigan of Rutland. His immediate survivors are his son, Gary, his wife Kathleen, and grandson Joseph; his son William, his wife Maureen, and grandchildren Kelley, Christopher and Michael, all of Fort Lauderdale; his daughter Jo-Ann, her husband, Steven, and grandchildren, Sean and Kyle; and, his son, Michael, his wife, Tina, and grandchildren Reese, Dylan and Marina, all of Rutland, and Gabriel, his wife Amanda, of St. Helena, CA. All of these were blessed to spend Roy's final days at his side, giving loving care and support. They are most grateful for Christopher, who gave his grandfather the gift of a companionable work and laugh filled summer, and to Roy's medical and spiritual caretakers, Drs. Eisemann, Lovett and Bove, the wonderful nurses and staff at the Rutland Regional Medical Center and the tender care of Vermont Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice. For the Reverend Justin Baker's frequent, welcomed visits, thank you. Everyone's care has been not only professional but gracious and loving.
Visitation hours will be on Sunday, December 30, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Christ The King Catholic Church, 66 South Main Street, Rutland, VT 05701, in Engle Hall at the downstairs level. Please enter from the South (Engrem Ave./Church Parking Lot) side. On Monday, December 31, at 11:00 a.m., Mass will be offered at Christ The King in celebration of Roy's life (Main level/all entrances), followed by a reception downstairs in Engle Hall. Arrangements are under the direction of Clifford Funeral Home and any information may be obtained by calling (802) 773-3010.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Christ The King Catholic Church; The Rutland Regional Medical Center, Foley Cancer Center, 160 Allen Street, Rutland, VT 05701; Roy J. and Claire Rotella Scholarship Fund, Mount St. Joseph Academy, 127 Convent Avenue, Rutland, VT 05701; or,
, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
Published in Rutland Herald on Dec. 29, 2012