Raymond and Gloria Gildea Memorial Fund
Raymond Thomas Gildea was affectionately known to family and friends as the "Little Leprechaun." Ray loved and embraced his Irish heritage and was never happier than when he was in the midst of a large social gathering, celebrating good times with jokes and laughter. An avid Red Sox fan, like so many New Englanders, he eagerly awaited spring and baseball to return to the Northeast.
Ray Gildea's passions also included education and his family, and he was devoted to both. For 34 years, he taught and worked in a district he loved, the Shelton Public School system. Ray served as a math teacher at Shelton High School, Department Head, Athletic Director, Computer Center Director, and Director of Finance throughout his tenure in Shelton. Through it all, he and Gloria, his wife of 47 years, raised four children - Kelly, Sean, Raymond Jr., and Kathleen, some of whom still live in Shelton. Ray was proud of his children and their respective spouses, Tom, Tracie, Nicole and Patrick. Later in life, Ray's love extended to his eleven grandchildren, whom he adored.
"My Dad dedicated most of his life to the Shelton community, and especially to education," said daughter Kelly Lynch. "He was a strong advocate for each of us with his unconditional love, support, and encouragement. He then took loving care of our Mom, who developed Alzheimer's disease later in life; a further example of the selfless man he was."
Daughter Kathleen Riddle agreed. "Next to being a great father and husband, my Dad was most proud of the work he did with the students in Shelton. He would often say that his greatest day was when I got hired by the Shelton Public Schools and we went to opening day ceremonies together," she said. "He was teary-eyed the entire time - it was a proud moment for us both, and I am honored to carry his tradition in the school system we both deeply care about."
When the Gildea Family lost Ray in 2010, they turned to VCF to establish a Donor Advised Fund to honor his memory. "It is such a great way to keep someone's spirit alive," said Kathleen. "We will use the proceeds to award an annual scholarship to a Shelton High School student, and we hope to be able to help students and/or organizations in other Valley towns as well. Our plans are to work hard and reach out every year to grow the fund."
The Gildeas know that establishing this Fund is what Ray would have wanted. "Our Dad always helped others. But you don't realize the impact your parents make as you are growing up," said Kathleen. "It wasn't until he was gone that we learned of the lessons that Dad had taught others, not only about math, but also about life. By establishing this Fund we are continuing his legacy and, at the same time, keeping his memory alive each and every day."