Eleanor Rae DeFelice Scholarship Fund
Est. 2022 as a scholarship fund by the family and friends of Eleanor Rae DeFelice to benefit a graduating female Ansonia High School student(s).
She may not have known it -- and certainly wouldn’t have bragged about it -- but Eleanor Rae DeFelice was a trailblazer, breaking down barriers in a time when professional opportunities for women were limited.
“She was a brilliant woman who mastered mathematics, shorthand, stenography and received many local and state awards for her achievements,” said Martin DeFelice, her son. “She lived a very full life, and her family is very thankful for the years we had with her.”
Eleanor, born in 1919, graduated from business school in 1936 and started work as a bookkeeper at the F.H. Newton Company in Ansonia. It was there she honed the business skills that would serve her well throughout her life and career. “We hope the message of his kindness, perseverance and ideals continue through others.”
“She would be so thrilled to know that her scholarship is already helping young people.”
In 1939, Eleanor worked with a manager who purchased the business, renaming it the Cleary Millwork Company. She was a key player in the deal, a testament to her business acumen.
“I don’t think she ever made a big deal about being a woman in the business world,” Martin said. “She just did what she was good at, and success always followed.”
Years later, the company was destroyed during the 1955 Flood. Eleanor helped relocate and reopen the company in Shelton. In 1977, it was sold again and moved to Rocky Hill. She was the top manager at Cleary Millwork and commuted to Rocky Hill daily until she retired. Her dedication to the business spanned more than 52 years.
Martin said it was a good thing the company moved to Rocky Hill because that’s where she met his father, John DeFelice. Eleanor and John were married for 15 years before he passed away.
“This incredible woman got married in her sixties and instantly she had a family with adult children and grandchildren,” Martin said. “She was remarkable, so kind and calming.”
Eleanor loved her large new family, and they loved her. She even legally adopted Martin and his siblings, Rosemary, Mary Jo, and John.
In 2022, Eleanor was working with the Valley Community Foundation to establish a fund to support students seeking business degrees. Unfortunately, she passed away before it was set up. Her children, however, continued her wish and established the Eleanor Rae DeFelice Scholarship Fund for graduating Ansonia High School students.
“She would be so thrilled to know that her scholarship is already helping young people,” Martin said. “That was Eleanor, always thinking ahead and planning.”
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