Valerie Ann (DeFeo) Vitalo, of Torrington, CT, lived her unique and wonderful life for 73 years. People always told her she should write an autobiography. Born February 3, 1949, as the only child of Evelyn (Negri) DeFeo and Frank Fred DeFeo, she spent her first 10 years in the Negri family homestead at 14 Winthrop St., Torrington, CT, where she also attended St. Peter School. Her next 5 years was spent at 15 Farmstead Lane in Torrington, with her parents and where she attended 1 year of Torrington High School. Val was married to the late Frank R. Vitalo for 17 years and during that marriage, resided with him at 31 Westledge Drive, Torrington. For the years from 1997 until the present, Val resided at the Stillwater Condos, in Torrington.
At the age of 15 until she was 21, Val spent those years in Morristown, NJ, and Bristol, CT, as a member of the Religious Teachers Filippini, where she received the rest of her high school education and 2 years of college. After she left the order, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from St. Joseph College (now University) in West Hartford, CT and her master’s and 6th year degrees in Reading and as a Reading Specialist from Central CT State University. She spent one year teaching for the School Readiness Program for the City of Hartford immediately after her undergraduate completion.
Valerie then taught for 38 years for the Torrington Public Schools in grades K, 3, 4 and 5 and continued to teach reading for 6 years after her retirement in 2011 for the same district. Val was named Torrington Teacher of the Year in 2005/2006. She often said that being a teacher was not “what she does” but rather “who she is.” She also tutored numerous elementary -aged children over the years.
Val taught in the Warner Summer Arts Camp for 9 years and helped initiate the Warner Theatre Center for Arts Education with its founder and first Director, Barry Hughson. She also performed in musical and comedy productions on the stages of the Warner Theatre, Phoenix Stage Co., and the Thomaston Opera House. For the 13 years, her original children’s musical production, Through A Child’s Eyes, was performed at the Warner Studio Theatre and school outreach locations in Connecticut.
Val was a founding member of the Warner Stage Company and early member of the Warner Board of Directors as well as a founding member of the Torrington Children’s Center. In 2012 she joined the early KidsPlay Children’s Museum Board of Directors where she served as Vice President and Chair of the Exhibits and Facilities Committee until the present.
Valerie loved her dear pets, all poodles: Melba, Tessa, Tibi, and Sofi. She always said they were her best life’s best teachers and the joys of her life. Val also acknowledged that she had the greatest parents in the world and missed them dearly after their passing. Though she had no siblings, Val’s extended family and friends meant the world to her, and she acknowledges all the joy, comfort, love, and support which they brought to her life. She is survived by all these wonderful people as well as her cousins, Kim Cooke, Carol Belli, Barbara Opper and Ann Carlet.
As per her request, there are no services, though her ashes will be privately interred at St. Peter Cemetery Mausoleum in Torrington. There will be a celebration of her life at KidsPlay Children’s Museum, 61 Main St., Torrington, CT, on June 18, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. where family and friends are invited to enjoy each other in her memory.
Val wishes to be remembered as a teacher of children, lover of the arts, lover of animals, lover of laughter and for being a great friend.
Memorial contributions may be made to KidsPlay Children’s Museum, 61 Main St., Torrington. CT 06790.
KidsPlay Children's Museum
61 Main Street, Torrington CT 06790