Raymond F. "Sonny" Damato, 86, of Manchester, beloved son of the late Frank and Teresa (Mazzola) Damato, died Friday, April 25, 2014, at Manchester Memorial Hospital.
He was born May 8, 1927, at the family homestead in Manchester and has been a lifelong resident. Sonny had many sources of enjoyment and took great pride in his family, his business, political affiliations, antique cars, and involvement in numerous community organizations. His career began at the age of 12, operating a bulldozer working construction along with his father and brother. His first independent venture at age 20 was a successful hot dog stand, Frankie's Drive-In, which also sponsored a semi-professional basketball team. During his mid-20s, he leased the restaurant and devoted his efforts to the business that made him locally famous, building apartments. His first building included six units. That initial effort transitioned into nearly 400 units today, now known as Damato Enterprises. He learned to ski at the age of 42, and enjoyed many weekends with family and friends at his vacation home in West Dover, Vt., throughout his life. Sonny was a staunch Democrat and heavily supported local, state, and national politics for many years. Many politicians were amongst his closest friends. One of Sonny's first loves was his horses. Years later, that love shifted to antique cars. He took great pride in the care and condition of his collection. For many years, he served on the board of directors for many local organizations, including the Savings Bank of Manchester, ECHN, and the 8th Utilities District of Manchester. Fondly referred to as the "Mayor of Homestead Park," Sonny was devoted to the growth and development of the town of Manchester. By far, his greatest pride was his family. His unsurpassed love and generosity will never be forgotten.
In addition to Nancy, Sonny is survived by his nieces and nephews, Pat Reid, Debbie Damato, Joyce Lindsey, Claire Rossetto, Richard Dabate (Julie), Janice Dabate (Al Fyler), Sandra Bidwell (Jerry), Terry Wilsinski (Linda), John Hubbard, Judy Anderson (Lenny), Carol St. Germain (Yvon), Joni Hubbard (Danny Cyr); and many great-nieces and great-nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Louis Damato; five sisters, Marie Jack, Olive Rossetto, Antoinette Dabate, Rose Wilsinski, Margaret Hubbard; nephews, David Jack, Louis Damato II, and Paul Rossetto. Sonny will be missed by his lifelong neighborhood friend, Jimmy McCavanagh, as well as many other close friends.
The Damato family wishes to thank the daily care given by Monica, Shay, Kathy, Tyhra, and Erica.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 1, 2014, with a Mass of Christian burial at 10:30 a.m. at St. Bridget Church, 80 Main St., Manchester. Burial will be at St. Bridget Cemetery.
Calling hours will be held Wednesday, April 30, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Holmes Funeral Home, 400 Main St., Manchester.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Bridget Church, "Preserving Our Heritage Fund," 80 Main St., Manchester, CT 06042, or the 8th District Manchester Fire Department, 138 Main St., Manchester, CT 06042.