John “Zeke” Bella, Jr.
John “Zeke” Bella, Jr. passed away on November 17, 2013 at the age of 83, surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Greenwich, Connecticut to the late John Bella, Sr. and Ann Belicka on August 23,1930.
John is survived by his children, Kathryn Bella-Korman and son-in-law David Korman of Riverside, CT, Diane Bella of Leverett, MA, Mary Bella-Glasscock and son-in-law Michael Glassock of Irving, TX. He leaves behind his five beloved grandchildren, Luke Bella-Spooner, Brianna Glasscock, Hannah Korman, Seth Bella-Hunter and John Bella-Hunter. He also leaves behind many nieces and nephews and wonderful friends. He was predeceased by his wife, Lorraine “Corky” Bella; son James Joseph Bella and his brother Roger Bella.
Zeke attended Greenwich High School and graduated in 1946 at the age of sixteen. At Greenwich High, he played varsity baseball and varsity basketball. He was also the quarterback that year and went undefeated and was awarded the Waskowitcz Trophy. He attended a military academy for a year before moving on to semi-pro baseball. He signed with the Yankees in 1951 and played in the team's farm system for several years. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 during the Korean War, he returned to baseball in 1955. He was called up to the Yankees at the end of the 1957 season.
One of his greatest joys was playing for the Yankees. While sitting on the bench, hoping and praying he would play, knowing his proud parents were watching from the stands; Yankee Manager, Casey Stengel looked over at him and said “you with the funny name, you're up”! Zeke was traded to the Kansas City A's in 1959. He retired from baseball at the end of the 1959. He was offered a “desk job” with the Yankee organization, but Greenwich, Connecticut kept calling his name. He joined the U.S. Postal Service until his retirement in 1985 and umpired junior and senior Babe Ruth and High School baseball games. He spent winters in Tequesta, Florida and worked part-time for Toyota of Greenwich surrounded by co-workers he loved. Zeke worked hard and played harder. He deeply loved his family, many friends, the game of baseball and most of all the Town of Greenwich.
Friends may call on Friday, November 22, 2013 from 4 PM to 8 PM at the Castiglione Funeral Home, Inc., 134 Hamilton Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830. A service will be held on Saturday, November 23 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 286 Delavan Avenue, Greenwich, CT. at 10:00 AM. The entombment will be private.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Meals on Wheels, 89 Maple Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830 or Greenwich Jr. Babe Ruth League, 23-2 Fairfield Road, Greenwich, CT 06830.
Published in The Hour from Nov. 20 to Nov. 21, 2013.