Waterford - Michael was one of ten children born to Nicola and Lucia (Donatello) Occhionero in New London on May 8, 1921. He grew up on Lee Ave., and after graduating from Chapman Tech in 1940, joined the Army and was stationed in Japan during World War II. Upon his discharge, he began a 30 year career at Pfizer, retiring in 1979.
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He married the former Norma Mae Vallee on November 27, 1943 in New London. Together they had four children, Sandra and husband, Raymond Hocking, of Norwich, Richard of East Lyme, Michael and wife, Jody, of New London and Debra and fiancee, Robert Bradshaw, of Groton.
Mike was happiest when the whole family gathered at his home, especially for the spaghetti dinners which became a tradition every Thursday for nearly thirty years, as he watched his grandchildren grow into adults, with children of their own.
For many years he was an acrtive member of the Waterford Senior Center, and along with his wife, was honored in 2002 by riding in the Waterford Day Parade as the "king and queen" of the Seniors!
For several years he nurtured and sold 1200 multi-colored hardy chrysanthemums from his garden on Route 32 in Quaker Hill. After his retirement, the mums were replaced with a vegetable garden, where he spent the remainder of his vital years. When he became ill, his children knew how much his garden meant to him, so for two years he supervised while they maintained his beloved garden until he left his Quaker Hill home to enter Bayview Nursing Faciliy where he resided for three months before moving to assisted living at Crescent Point in Niantic, where he was later joined by his wife.
He was "Papa Occh" to seven wonderful grandchildren, Mark, Richard, Michael, Jennifer and Daniel Occhionero, Dina Occhionero Greene and Gina Marie Kent. He was also blessed with five adorable great-grandchildren, Gracey, Jack, West and Stella Occhionero and Madison Greene.
Besides his wife of 69 years, he leaves a brother, Angelo of Waterford; and a sister, Loretta Gambini of Deep River; and several nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by seven siblings, Mary French, Nina Hallissey, Connie Gatheral and Al, John, Joseph and Luigi Occhionero.
His family will receive relatives and friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, at the Impellitteri-Malia Funeral Home, 84 Montauk Ave., New London. Family and friends are to gather for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Friday, in St. Joseph Church, 17 Squire St., New London. Interment will follow in Jordan Cemetery with military honors.
Published in The Day on Nov. 15, 2012