Dr. George Thomas Carofino, 77, of Litchfield, peacefully slipped away on May 11, 2021 in the embrace of his wife and surrounded by his loving family. George was born in Meriden, CT on May 31, 1943, the son of the late George Raymond Carofino and the late Anita (Rinaldini) Carofino.
George graduated from St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass. in 1962 and attended Villanova University for two years. He was accepted into the School of Dentistry, University of Maryland after completing his sophomore year, despite the fact that the usual admission requirements were a college degree. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Timothy O. Heatwole Award, presented to the student who demonstrated the most humanitarian concern for his patients. That sense of genuine interest in, and concern for, all that he met was a hallmark of his life.
George enlisted in the Air Force as a second lieutenant during his dental school years and was appointed to the rank of Captain, U.S.A.F upon graduation. He served two years of active duty, 1968-1970 at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and an additional ten years in the reserve. In addition to practicing dentistry, Dr. Carofino volunteered to serve as principal of the Minot AFB Kindergarten. He earned the gratitude of parents by improving the facilities and hiring qualified teachers.
Dr. Carofino practiced dentistry, primarily in Torrington and Litchfield, for thirty years. During that time, he thought of his staff as part of his family and was deeply interested in the lives of his patients. He always tried to provide care, even when patients could not afford it, and an apple pie was often payment enough.
George was deeply involved in his local community. He served as a Rotarian, and on the Litchfield Zoning Board: for a period, as chairman. He was a member of the founding board of Litchfield Performing Arts. He was elected to the Litchfield Board of Education. From there, he was appointed by Governor O’Neil to the Connecticut State Board of Education, and, finally, as a public member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. His unwavering support of the needs of the student, and particularly his push to include respect for the students’ emotional needs in the classroom, sometimes put him in conflict with others during this period. It also earned him mention as a reformer in professional educational articles.
George always felt called to serve others, and one of his greatest passions was medical missionary trips. During his years of practice, month long summer “vacations” were spent giving dental care to those who could not afford to pay, most often in countries where there was no safety net for the poor. This included the aborigine people of Taiwan, living in a mountain top reservation, to the poor of Mexico, St. Lucia, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. At least one of George’s three sons always accompanied him on these trips, and on several occasions the entire family went, all as medical volunteers. Partially in recognition of this service to the needy throughout the world, George was given the Paul Harris Award by the Rotary Club.
George was on a dental mission trip in Ecuador in 1998 when the car in which he was a passenger was struck head on by a truck. In his efforts to protect his wife, Dianne, George remained vulnerable to the impact and suffered an injury that led to the necessity that he retire from dentistry, a painful decision.
In 2006, George and Dianne retired to Antigua, Guatemala, a town that George had discovered during his dental mission trips. George became an active part of that community. He was a member of the founding board of the Antigua International School, guiding the school to accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, by helping them to adopt the excellence such an accreditation reflects. In addition, he supported the Colegio San Bernabe, a school for mostly indigenous students, both in helping to improve the facilities of the school and in assisting students to be accepted to colleges in the United States.
George loved travel: particularly in discovering different cultures and ways of life. He loved carving: first of jewelry, and then of wooden ducks and birds. He loved painting, particularly whimsical renditions of children’s literature, on canvas and on wooden children’s furniture. He loved gardening. But George’s greatest enjoyment was being a grandfather to his 5 grandchildren. He loved to make them laugh and most of all to drive them around on his tractor in the backyard. He showered them with love, laughter and, most of all, encouragement.
George is survived by his wife of 54 years, Dianne (Matheny); sons Geoffrey and his wife Tina; Jonathan; Bradley and his wife Kathleen; and daughter Anne Carofino-Hunt, and by his grandchildren Michael, Allison, and Timothy Carofino, and Ana and George Hunt. His family believes that, as he leaves them, he returns to family that has gone before him to the presence of God.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church, (St. Louis de Montford Parish) 49 South St., Litchfield, CT. Relatives and friends are asked to meet directly at church. Burial will follow at St. Anthony Cemetery, Litchfield, CT with full military honors accorded. Calling hours will be held on Friday, May 14, 2021, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Cook Funeral Home, 82 Litchfield St., Torrington. All attending funeral services are reminded to follow CDC recommendations for COVID prevention by social distancing and wearing protective face masks.
In lieu of flowers, the Carofino family requests that you bring a children’s book - for the children of Guatemala - to the calling hours at Cook Funeral Home or to the Mass at St. Anthony’s Church, or send a donation to: Guatemala Children’s Book Fund; P.O. Box 1092, Litchfield, CT 06759
Condolences may be sent to the Carofino family by visiting www.cookfuneralhomect.com
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Guatemala Children's Book Fund
P. O. Box 1092, Litchfield CT 06759