Richard Louis "Dick" Cretella, husband of the late Eleanor “Sunni” Cretella, died peacefully at his home in Hotchkiss Grove, Branford on October 10, 2022. He was 95. Richard is survived by his sister, Virginia C. Mars of McLean, Virginia, and five children: Kari Cretella-Nickou (Charles) of Newbury, Mass., Wendy Cretella-Hodge (Peter) of Natick, Mass., Ellen Cretella-Connell (Kevin), Steffen Cretella-Costantini (Marco), and Rex Cretella (Monica), all of Guilford, Connecticut.
Born May 9, 1927 in New Haven, Connecticut, he was the son of the late Josephine Nutile and Albert W. Cretella and is predeceased by his brother, Hon. Albert W. Cretella, Jr. Richard was raised during the depression era in the farmlands of North Haven, Connecticut. He loved gardening, and learned at an early age how to work the soil and grow and harvest produce. He was a graduate of the Choate School in 1945 and served in the US Navy in World War II (Guam). He earned his B.S. degree from Yale University in 1951 and upon graduation worked in the advertising business in Los Angeles, California. He married Sunni (Ferreno) the love of his life, before moving to Washington, D.C., to work as a press secretary for his late father, Albert W. Cretella, a U.S. Congressman, 3rd district, New Haven, Conn. (1952-1956). When his father lost the seat, Richard returned to Connecticut to raise a family and pursue a career in the insurance industry, joining the Travelers Insurance Company (1959-1972). He then started Connecticut Associates, Ltd. in Branford where he worked until his retirement in 1995. As president of the firm, Richard played an integral role in growing Connecticut Associates, Ltd. into one of the largest and leading property casualty agencies in New Haven County.
Richard loved life and enjoyed a wealth of hobbies and interests from home projects, tennis, gourmet cooking, boating and his greatest passion — downhill skiing which he pursued until the ripe old age of 90. His was a voracious reader with a pure gift for the written word and revered any genre of literature be it prose, newspaper or satire. In his later years, still sharp as a tack, his daily ritual was reading the New York Times newspaper cover to cover and completing the crossword puzzle—-to the amazement of just about everyone. He inspired his family to take up the Mini NYTimes Crossword puzzle and would often bestow kudos via texts, always with his dry sense of humor at their developing prowess. Nurturing an avid interest in the arts at a young age, Richard was given private painting lessons by his parents which laid the foundation for his actively displaying his works at several Connecticut galleries, including the John Slade Ely House, New Haven Paint & Clay and Guilford Art League until his passing. He recently received the “Memorial Prize” at the Clinton Art Association exhibition in 2022. To say that Richard bled blue as a Yale alum would be an understatement, as he was a mainstay at Yale University football games for nearly 75 years with five children and the notoriously mammoth “Beat Harvard” banner in tow, and nothing brightened his day more than a last minute Bulldog victory over the Harvard Crimson on a crisp, late autumn day.
Richard is also survived by his beloved fourteen grandchildren Lauren Nickou, Zachary Cretella, Max Nickou, Colby Cretella, Ian Connell, Francesca Hodge, Jaimie Cretella, Matthew Hodge, Maura Connell, Luca Costantini, Mariah Cretella, Joshua Costantini, Lia Costantini, Karlynn Cretella, and two great grandchildren, Aiden Hodge and Ambrose Arefnia.
Calling hours and funeral services will be held Saturday, October 15, 2022 from 9:30-11am at Maresca & Sons Funeral Home, 592 Chapel Street, New Haven, Conn. with burial at Branford Center Cemetery immediately following. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Richard L. Cretella's name to:
Guilford Art League, 411 Church Street, Guilford CT 06437
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