We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Maresca & Sons Funeral Home
Frank Joseph “Nails” Leonetti, a lifelong and proud New Havener, died on August 27 at Hospice in Branford. He was 93 years old.
Frank was born in 1929 in the Hill section of New Haven to Filomena D’Errico Leonetti and Giuseppe Leonetti, both of whom hailed from the tiny town of Castel Morrone in Italy. He was predeceased by a sister, Maria Josephine Leonetti, and a brother who died infancy.
Frank leaves his beloved wife and dance partner of 66 years, Dolores Durso Leonetti, who jitterbugged with him at countless concerts on various Greens in and around New Haven, and laughed at his corny jokes. He leaves his three daughters, Michele (Boo Boo) Leonetti Schusky (and her husband Steve), Carol Leonetti Dannhauser (and her husband Bill) and Jean Leonetti Santino. He instilled in his daughters a love of the beach, appreciation for a ride to nowhere, eating fresh mozzarella and chocolate-covered strawberries, and stopping at nothing in pursuit of a fair and just outcome.
Frank was “Pops” to five beloved grandchildren and many of their partners and friends: PeterJoseph Santino Jr., Cara Santino, Matthew Santino, Billy Dannhauser (and his wife Laura), Christopher Dannhauser (and his wife Lesa Tran), and Frank’s great-grandson, Travis Ferreira Santino. Pops shared with them his vast knowledge of point spreads and sporting events, frank commentary on social issues, the love of a good “sangwich,” appreciation for a meal out, appreciation for a meal in, and always making room for a guest at the table. Frank also leaves his godsons, Alex Minutillo and Francisco “Paco” Palmieri (the acting ambassador to Colombia, which Frank shared with anyone within earshot).
Frank loved to reminisce about the Hill section and hanging out with “the boys.” He played quarterback for the Hill’s football team, which captured the sandlot city championship, and later played baseball and softball in many recreational leagues. Frank was a math whiz who graduated from Commercial High School and was accepted to business school, but he didn’t have money to attend, as his widowed mother needed help making ends meet. He joined the Air Force and mastered Morse Code as a radio operator, and sent his paychecks to his mother.
Later, Frank became a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service and a union leader devoted to the plight of the working man. He struck for better pay and working conditions and went to bat repeatedly for colleagues in disputes with insurance carriers. He was devoted to his customers and twice saved a customer on his route. Frank donated blood, learned CPR, and offered help to whoever needed it. He came from little, and, to the end of his life, was eager to share whatever he had with friends and strangers.
Frank enjoyed all kinds of music, especially opera and big band sounds; he rooted for the Yankees, the Giants and the UConn Huskies; he appreciated casino trips, traveling and long walks. He was a member of the Jolly Time Seniors in New Haven, and a consummate BINGO caller. More than anything else, Frank enjoyed boisterous family get-togethers filled with eating and laughing and shouting over each other.
The Leonetti family would like to give special thanks to Brittany Doheny, CNA, who worked with Frank for two hours each day and went above and beyond the call of duty. Frank and his family adored Brittany!
Many families hope that their dearly departed rests in peace, but not Frank’s bunch. They know he would be bored to tears. They hope he reunites with Auntie and the boys, and that he keeps the dance floor warm for them, with an all-you-can-eat buffet at the ready.
Friends may call from 9-10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31, at MARESCA & SONS FUNERAL HOME, 592 Chapel St., New Haven. A Mass of Christian burial begins at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony Church, 70 Washington Ave., in New Haven. Kindly wear a mask to these events. Burial will follow at All Saints Cemetery, 700 Middletown Ave., North Haven. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Anthony Church. Condolences