WALLINGFORD - Joanne Messina Ulbrich, devoted wife of the late Frederick C. Ulbrich, passed away on Sunday, April 13, 2014, at her home in Wallingford, at age 77. Joanne was a longtime resident of Wallingford and a parishioner at Most Holy Trinity Church.
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Born in Lackawanna, N.Y., on June 8, 1936, she was the daughter of the late Michael and Rose (Labadia) Spirito. She was raised in Bristol, and attended Saint Anthony School. In high school she was the captain of the cheerleader squad and was a great ping-pong and volleyball player. She spent over 30 years as a committed and tireless volunteer at MidState Medical Center in Meriden and at The Connecticut Hospice in Branford. She found her service as a volunteer to be tremendously rewarding and gratifying. According to Joanne, it was her parents who always told her "treat others the way you want to be treated". She was extremely proud of her sister Christine who devoted her life to Christ. Sister Christine, of the Religious Teachers Filippini , was her idol, her mentor, her sister, her best friend, her confidant, and above all – her hero. It was while working at Wellington's Bar and Grille in 1977, where she would meet the true love of her life, Fred Ulbrich. For the next seven years the two embarked on a whirlwind romance that culminated in a beautiful wedding in Capetown, South Africa, on Oct. 14, 1984. Joanne was a social butterfly; she loved to laugh and had a great personality. She enjoyed spending summers at the beach house in Guilford, modeling at local fundraising events, hosting parties, dancing, and attending jazz festivals with Fred. She deeply cherished spending time with all of her precious grandchildren and great grandchildren. But most of all, Joanne will be remembered for her unconditional love of family and friends. She did so much for so many people and her kindness and compassion for others was endless. She recently acknowledged that "her greatest contribution to this world were her three sons". Joanne is predeceased by her husband, Fred; her sisters, Christine Spirito and Mary Anne Leo; her niece, Christine Leo; her granddaughter, Christina Spirito; her first husband, Richard (Dick) Messina; and Fred's son, Robert.
Joanne is survived by her three sons, Richard, Greg and his wife, Michele, and Stephen Messina; her brother, Michael E. and his wife, Maryann Spirito; niece Marci Crocco; and nephew, Michael Spirito. She is also survived by Chris, Derek and his wife, Alicia, and Jason and his wife, Marie Ulbrich; seventeen grandchildren, Emily and Benjamin Messina, Erin Roarke, Mikey and Alex Pignataro, Susan, Jonathan and his wife, Liliana, Mark, Weston, Jenna, Ryan, Abigail, James, Logan, Jason, Ashley and Katelyn Ulbrich; four great-grandchildren, Sierrah Hallock, Hunter Cupertino, Ana Sofia and Max Ulbrich; and a great- niece, Marisa Spirito. She also leaves behind her beloved tuxedo cat, "Felix".
Joann's family will receive relatives and friends in The Wallingford Funeral Home, 809 N. Main St. Ext., Wallingford on Tuesday, April 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 23, at 10 a.m. directly at Most Holy Trinity Church, 84 N. Colony St., Wallingford. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, gifts in her memory may be sent to MidState Medical Center, Development Office, 435 Lewis Ave., Meriden, CT 06451, and/or The Connecticut Hospice, 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405.
Wallingford Funeral Home
809 North Main Street Ext. Wallingford, CT 06492
Published in The Record-Journal on Apr. 19, 2014