John J. Fanelli
Brandon Funeral Home - Fitchburg
305 Wanoosnoc Rd.
Fitchburg, MA
John J. Fanelli, 77
Owner/Operator Fanelli Amusement Company
FITCHBURG - John J. Fanelli, 77, of Fitchburg, died Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in Leominster Hospital after a brief illness.
John's father Vincenzo J. Fanelli emigrated from Cassano deMorge, Italy, his mother Rachel M. (Cosentino) Fanelli was from Fitchburg.
Born July 25, 1935 in the Canton Street section of town, John was an active member of the St. Anthony of Padua church throughout his life. A self-made, dedicated, and hardworking man from an early age, he was trained as a barber in Boston at age 15, opened John's Barber Shop on Water Street at age 17, and married Gina A. Perrone of Worcester a year later. Highly ambitious, he built himself a popcorn trailer at a young age and sold his wares at local festivals, which gave him his start in the amusement business.
He was perhaps best known for founding Fanelli Amusement Co. in 1956, a family-run traveling carnival that has operated all over New England for almost sixty years. John was a national authority on mechanical amusement rides of all sorts. He collected and restored countless early-to-mid 20th century merry-go-rounds throughout his life that still operate all over the world. An expert on carousels, he particularly loved the Herschell Spillman merry-go-rounds of the 1950's with their clean flourishes and bold colors. Both an engineer and an innovator, John's ability to design and create amusement rides that were more portable and thus better suited for traveling was unsurpassed.
John Fanelli remained active in local business, religious, and community affairs throughout his life, and ran numerous local businesses. He was a member of the Serra Club, the Sons of Italy, the Knights of Columbus, and was a longtime member of the Showman's League of America and the New England Showman's Association. He was a former president of the latter.
John is survived by his wife of sixty years Gina (Perrone) Fanelli, and their seven children: James of Fitchburg, Jack of Greenville NH, Rachel of Wrentham, Mark of Leominster, Mary of Leominster, Margaret of Fitchburg, and Kathryn of Amherst, as well as by eighteen grandchildren. He is predeceased by a sister Grace (Fanelli) Wheeler of Lunenburg.
His funeral will be held on Monday, April 8 from the Brandon Funeral Home, 305 Wanoosnoc Rd., with a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 AM in St. Anthony di Padua Church, 84 Salem St. Entombment will take place in the St. Bernard's Cemetery. Calling hours in the funeral home will be held on Sunday, April 7, from 2-5 PM. Flowers may be sent or memorial contributions may be made to the American Lung Association, 460 Totten Pond Rd #400, Waltham, MA 02451.

Published by Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Apr. 4 to Apr. 5, 2013.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Funeral services provided by:
Brandon Funeral Home - Fitchburg
Please consider a donation as requested by the family.
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

19 Entries
I never had the opportunity to meet any of my grandfathers, but when I met john I considered him as a grandfather figure to me, someone I really looked up to... a true friend also, he gave me the best advice on everything.I always looked forward to visiting him and having lunch and talking for hours on the same interests we both had about the outdoor amusement business. I will truly miss him forever. R.I.P John
Georgie Marenna III
April 10, 2013
Please accept our sincerest sympathy on the passing of Mr. Fanelli. May the passage of time ease your sorrow.
Mary Anne &Tony Pepe
April 10, 2013
April 9, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Love, Kim
Kim Kendall
April 7, 2013
I am very sorry for the loss of your husband and father. My prayers are with your family in this time of sadness. Joan
Joan Flanders
April 6, 2013
my thoughts and prayers are with the family
The Pino family
April 6, 2013
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
Dan Keough
April 6, 2013
Very, very sorry for your loss. He was a good man. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Joe Fera and family
Joseph Fera
April 6, 2013
Thinking of you all at this very sad time.

Linda xxx
Linda Connacher
April 6, 2013
We are sorry for you loss our prayers are with you and your family during this time of sorrow. May he rest in peace.
Vincent, Helene, Vincent Jr and Sherrie Tallo
April 6, 2013
Sorry to hear the sad news on the passing of your husband, father and grandfather. Our Deepest Sympathies to The Fanelli's families.

Catherine and Annette Richard
Annette Richard
April 6, 2013
my thoughts and prayers go out to the whole famaily.john you will always be rememberd by me. for the 25 years i have known you.the children of heaven are riding and enjoying all of your in peace john
joseph grasser
April 5, 2013
Many fond and happy memories of John...May he rest and peace ... Lena and children
April 5, 2013
It can be so hard to face the first year without your loved one, but the love of family and friends can carry you through.
Charron Family
April 5, 2013
Dear Gina: I am so sorry to hear of your husband's passing. May God give you the strength to carry on. You always was a vibrant person and I am sure you will continue to do so.

MaryAnn (Losapio) Aslanian
Your 1953A Class President of
Commerce High
April 5, 2013
We have enjoyed John's humor and friendship and will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family who will miss him even more.
Bob and Donna Saiia
April 5, 2013
I haven't seen any members from your family in a very very long time. But I will never forget my experiences that I had with the Fanelli family working with the Fanelli Amusement shows. It was nice to see and be able to work with a family oriented show that had so much class for the carnival business. My prayers are with you all,
Your dad was a very nice man and I am sorry for your loss. Colleen Iacovelli, Hopedale, MA
April 5, 2013
Jimmy, Jack, and Mark, my condolences to all of you and your family. May your memories of your Dad help you through this sad time.
Sheila Mancuso
April 5, 2013
I recently spent some time with John and his family sharing stories and family photos. It was both an honor and privilege to know him.God bless his wonderful wife, Gina, and his loving family. I will miss him. Sincerely, Dr. David J De Pasquale
David De Pasquale
April 4, 2013
Showing 1 - 19 of 19 results