Gaeton and Elizabeth Simonetti Family Fund
Gaeton (Tom) Simonetti and Elizabeth (Betty) Pagliaro were born and raised in Shelton. They attended Shelton Public Schools together, where Tom was an outstanding high school football player. Both of their fathers owned family businesses in downtown Shelton, with the Pagliaros operating Frank's People's Market, while the Simonettis ran the local shoe repair and dry cleaners on Center Street. As teenagers, Betty and Tom each worked in those businesses.
Betty recalls that era as a time when the Valley community was smaller and close-knit, where everyone knew and helped each other. She said, "Tom and I always had fond memories of growing up in Shelton. We never forgot our family and friends, and the people of our community."
They were married in June, 1951, while Tom was serving in the U.S. Army. They returned to Shelton in 1953, and started their careers, businesses, and a family. Tom and Betty's interest in Shelton - its people, progress and development - never diminished. Tom faithfully followed the Gaels, attending home and away football games until he was in his eighties. He was also a charter member of the Shelton-Huntington Exchange Club.
Together they raised five children while successfully starting and managing various enterprises throughout the United States. The foremost of these was in the health care industry, in which they designed, built, and managed four nursing homes over an almost 50-year career, with their first two facilities located in Shelton and Derby.
Betty remembers that the concept for entering the nursing home profession came from the late Shelton Mayor Frank Cicia, a dear family friend.
"Frank knew that Tom was looking for a new challenge, so he called Tom and asked to see him. Tom went to Frank's laundromat, and Frank gave him that wonderful suggestion for a career." The facilities Tom and Betty built provided jobs and careers for hundreds of Valley residents, including many students from local high schools.
Son Anthony Simonetti remembers that, in the 1970s, his father received an award for having hired the most students from Shelton High School in one year. "My father always encouraged his student employees to further their education - that was very important to him."
Before Tom's passing in 2010, he and Betty had often spoken of giving back to Shelton and the Valley- a community they loved, where their family still lives, and where they had prospered. So that August, Betty and her children established the Gaeton and Elizabeth Simonetti Family Fund as a Donor Advised Fund at VCF. The flexible structure will allow the family to give help where it is needed, including financial assistance to graduating high school students who plan to further their education.
Tom and Betty shared a wonderful and successful life, and their family Fund will serve as a permanent celebration of their life's work over their 60 years together.
To make a tax-deductible contribution to this fund, please complete the secure, online credit card form below: