East Lyme - The Valentini family sadly announces that Richard Valentini Jr. of 26 Pattagansett Drive, East Lyme, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, of natural causes. His death was totally unexpected and occurred after a brief stay in the hospital, one day shy of his 88th birthday.
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He was born in New London, on Aug. 21, 1926, in what was then known as "The Fort" area where much of the Italian population of New London resided. He, with fond memories, attended Harbor Elementary School and Chapman Technical High School, where he graduated in 1944. In his high school year book they said he played "Hot Licks on a Licorice Stick!", as he played the clarinet quite well since grammar school.
In World War II, he played in the Navy Band and marched in President Roosevelt's funeral. He also played many times at formal occasions for Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. He loved his job in the navy, being able to play his beloved clarinet every day, and he reached the rank of chief.
After leaving the Navy he worked at Electric Boat in Groton, and retired after 24 years in 1986. He later worked part time at Tommy's Florist, but more importantly, played his clarinet and saxophone for Dick Pillar's Orchestra and his favorite band of all, Dick Campo's Big Band. In his later years, he played for the Waterford Civic Band Summer Series at Mystic Park, The Mystic Noank Band, Westbrook, and Harkness Memorial Park. He loved eastern Connecticut, seafood, meeting friends at Micky D's, his music, and being Italian. If you talked with him for more that ten seconds - music, food, and Italians would surely come into the conversation. He will be soundly missed by all of his family, friends, and those in his musical groups.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ricardo Valentini and Christina (Orlando) Valentini.
He is survived by his wife, Betty Lee Boyd Valentini; daughter, Paula; three sons, Richard (Alice), Michael, and Philip; grandchildren, Eric Wasniewski, Clifford Lundin, and, Danielle Nicole Valentini; and great-grandson, Zachory Wasniewski. He is also survived by his sister, Adele Hart; and numerous nieces and a nephew.
Calling hours are from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, at the Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home, 48 Grand St., Niantic. A graveside service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, in St. Mary Cemetery.
Please visit www.neilanfuneralhome.com to view Richard's memorial video or to leave a condolence message for the family.
Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home
48 Grand St Niantic, CT 06357
Published in The Day on Aug. 23, 2014