Joe and Kay Calvanese were born
and raised in Southington. They were involved in the Southington
Community, through political and civic organizations. Giving back to
the community was a large part of their lives. Kay Calvanese was a
tireless and generous woman whose service to Southington was
appreciated and recognized in both the private and public sectors.
Born in May of 1926, the former Kathryn Zilly attended schools here
graduating from Lewis High School with the Class of 1944. She
graduated from Fannie A. Smith School in Bridgeport with a degree in
Elementary Education. Prior to her marriage to Joseph Calvanese she
taught kindergarten for three years at the former Holcomb School.
Mrs. Calvanese then turned her
efforts to raising a family and helping her husband with the
expansion of the Aqua Turf Club, where Kay’s Pier was named in her
honor. Kay was active in Parent-Teacher Organizations, helped form a
ski club for neighborhood children, "The Plantsville Skiers". Mrs.
Calvanese was also active in the Southington Association of Retarded
Citizens, and the Home-School Association of Southbury, another
group devoted to providing services to the mentally disabled. She
was a communicant at Mary Our Queen Church and volunteered at
Bradley Memorial Hospital. Her hospital work inspired her to
co-found the Bradley Memorial Hospital Thrift Shop, with Ruth Forgione, in hopes that its proceeds could benefit service and
technology at the medical center. Mrs. Calvanese and Mrs. Forgione
were co-recipients of the 1978 UNICO Gold Metal for their charitable
efforts in Southington.
The contributions made to the
community by Joe and Kay Calvanese live on today through the work
done by the Calvanese Charity Foundation.
After the untimely passage of Kay
Calvanese in February of 1982, her family established a scholarship
in her name to be given to a Southington High School student who was
pursuing a nursing career. The scholarship has been given each year
since its inception in honor of Mrs. Calvanese.
known in Connecticut as a successful businessman and entrepreneur,
Joseph Calvanese Sr. never forgot his Southington roots. Mr.
Calvanese was a native of Southington born in November 1920. He
graduated from the former Lewis High in 1939. During World War II he
served with the U.S. Army and earned the Bronze Star. After the war
Joe returned home to Southington and started a landscaping business
with his Dad and brother Anthony. After his retirement from
Calvanese Nursery Joe founded The Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.
Friends and associates remembered him as a good role model who
enjoyed hard work and giving back to the Southington community. He
was a member of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, The VFW post
9766 and the Elks Club 1669. He was a longtime member of the
Isabella Council 15, Knights of Columbus. He was on of the founders
and directors of the former Citizens National Bank in Plantsville.
From 1977 to 1979 he was a member of the Town Council and for many
years he served on the Park and Recreation Board.
liked collecting antiques and obtained unusual items that he would
incorporate in the design of the Aqua Turf Club. For example, the
wooden alleys of a near by bowling facility damaged in a flood were
transformed into a dancing area inside one of his banquet halls. The
beams of a historic building that was going to be demolished were
used in the construction of a building at the Aqua Turf Club. What
started as a retirement project, a family Swim and Tennis Club, has
grown into the widely known Aqua Turf banquet facility. The facility
today is owned and managed by Joe and Kay’s sons, Joe and Chris
The man known as
the father of the Aqua Turf Club died September 15, 1994 at the age
of 73. Upon the death of Mr. Calvanese a foundation was created so
money could be raised to fund a broader spectrum of the Southington
Community. The contributions made to the community by Joe and Kay
Calvanese live on today through the work done by the Calvanese
Charity Foundation. The Joe and Kay Calvanese Foundation was granted
a 501 (c) (3) status on February 21, 1996 by IRS.
Below is a partial list of some of
the first contributions the Joe and Kay Calvanese Foundation has
made to the local community: