Failla (nee Gray), Colleen
Longtime Stamford resident Colleen Marie Failla (nee Gray), 47, of Springdale, a nursing student and receptionist at Hand & Stone Spa, died Friday Oct. 5.
Born Colleen Marie Gray, she graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1982, and was most recently a student at Norwalk Community College, where she was expected to complete her nursing degree next year.
Before undertaking her nursing studies, Ms. Failla ran a successful cleaning business that served many homes and businesses throughout Fairfield County. Prior to that, she had worked at Pitney Bowes' Norwalk offices for several years. Ms. Failla was known to her friends and family as a sweet-natured person. She would break out a wicked sense of humor when no one was looking. She was known for a self-lacerating wit that kept her brothers and sister and friends laughing at private times. And she had a sharp eye for absurdities and human foibles, that she used to entertain them and herself at parties and during lengthy phone calls.
"There isn't one person who knew Colleen who wouldn't tell me right away that my sister was the sweetest human being they had ever met," said Tim Gray, her brother. "I heard it all the time, and it was always the first thing people said whenever her name was mentioned." Ms. Failla loved working outdoors in the garden with her dog, Edie (whom she had named after an elderly uncle, Edward Killeen, with whom she had shared a close bond as a child and young adult) by her side. She had a fondness and sympathy for the elderly and it wasn't unusual to find that she had taken on a new friend twice her age. She truly thought of other peoples' feelings and needs before her own and possessed a fierce, independent spirit.
"She was helping paint our mother's house in Vermont this summer and no one would get up on the 18-foot ladder to paint the peak of the attached barn," said her brother, Kevin Gray. "She literally said, 'I'll do it. I'm not scared. Give me the brush.' And climbed on up. If she gave herself any task, like planting a new garden, painting an entire room, putting herself through nursing school or even making a new friend, she went at it sometimes like a soldier until she was satisfied she had done it exactly the way she wanted." Her sister Laurie Ott said Ms. Failla's best attribute, "was this big heart she had. I am going to miss her like crazy." Surviving Ms. Failla are her parents, Karen Gracey and Paul Gray; stepparents, Elizabeth Gray and Joseph Gracey; her brothers, Kevin and Tim Gray; sister, Laurie Ott; sisters-in-law, Elissa Gray and Kim Gray; brother-in-law, Harry Ott; and nephew, Justin Ott. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday October 12, 2012 at 10 a.m. at St. Gabriel Church 914 Newfield Ave, Stamford CT. The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to High Watch Recovery Center in Kent, Connecticut. To leave an online condolence please visit www.leopgallagherstamford.com