Wolcott Historical Society News - February 2024
By Florence Goodman
This month I'd like to share with you the life of Alexander V. Nole, Sr., Wolcott's oldest resident who recently passed away. Alex was a man of lifelong service whose dedication to his family, country, church, and community are unmeasurable. This article was written by his daughter, Phyllis Nole Furlong, but I revised and shortened it.
Alessandro Virgilio Fortunato Nole Sr. died peacefully on December 15, 2023, at his home in Wolcott, CT at the age of 106 where he lived since 1952 with his wife, Julia Richards Nole; she predeceased him by 19 years.
He was born in Waterbury, CT on September 12, 1917. He was the son of Italian immigrants from Avigliano, Italy, Leonardo Nole and Maria Incoronata (Gertrude) Lorusso. As a child, Alex loved walking to the Silas Bronson Library in Waterbury "filling his arms with books to take home to read." He remained a bibliophile all his life and developed a life-long love of learning. Alex lived an exemplary lifestyle of dignity and courage in the challenging decades of the early 20th century. He lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Great Depression and WWII, and then raised his family in Wolcott in the economic boom of post-WWII America.
In his early 1920's, he met his future wife at St. Lucy's parish in Waterbury. Later, they both enlisted in the war effort of WWII. As GI's and Nurses returned home, a passionate force across the country was awakened to have families and build communities. This WWII generation is known as "The Greatest Generation," the men and women who persevered through the economic hardships of the Great Depression, by following the American motto to "work hard and get ahead," thus enjoying the economic boom of post-WWII America. This is the generation that built a nation.
Julia served in the WWII Army Nurse Corps in the South Pacific. Alex served in the Army Air Corps, as an office worker, a clerk, as well as with the Chaplain. He was a member of the 446th Bomb Group, stationed in England from 1943-1945. One of Alex's favorite stories was the time the couple was traveling on a train in uniform, and an on-looker recognized Julia's higher rank as Lieutenant. He asked, "Soldier, do you salute her and then kiss her, or do you kiss her and then salute her?" Upon return from their service, Alex and Julia married in 1946. They both sought higher education on the GI Bill. Alex graduated from Hillyer College, now University of Hartford, with a BA in Business.
Alex was from a family of seven siblings, and Julia from a family of six. Alex and Julia had three children, Mary Anne Nole Zecchino, Alexander V. Nole, Jr. and Phyllis Nole Furlong. They enjoyed a strong bond with their siblings and their children. The family members provided a common set of values that enshrined their vision of success and goodness and provided the core foundation of a large, successful extended family.
Alex and Julia were active in the American Field Service in Wolcott and hosted many foreign students in their home: Dr. Carmen Luz-Andrade, MD of Chile; Betty Escudero, of Ecuador; Leif-Ottar Pettersen of Norway, and Molly Miranda Phillips from Malaysia, now in Georgia. All call him "Dad."
Both Alex and Julia knew the importance of community service, but that did not interfere with their focus of raising a family. Alex worked full-time in production planning management at Uniroyal, Inc., for his entire career. Julia's degrees in nursing, RN, BSN, MPH allowed her to teach at the college level.
Alex devoted his retirement years to researching his family history, both in book form and in the creation of a family tree. "Uncle Alex" knew every person on the family tree by name. Alex was proud of all members of the family tree as all succeeded in adopting the family values. As his siblings died, (all pre-deceased him) he became the patriarch of the Nole family, carrying on where they left off.
As a Latin scholar, Alex knew Roberts' Rules of Order, leading many an important meeting at the church and the library in Wolcott, in his adult years. He demonstrated tireless service to the Wolcott Public Library, working to develop it from a former one room schoolhouse to its present site with media services and a children's library. After 40 years on the Library Board, many of those years as president, the Friends of the Library honored him in 1995 by the dedication of the children's room that was named in his honor. He attended meetings of the Friends of the Library until he was over 100 years old.
Alex also demonstrated tireless service to the Catholic church. He modeled a deeply religious nature throughout his life, teaching tolerance and forgiveness through the Catholic Faith. In the early 1950's, he was instrumental in appealing to the bishop in Hartford, CT to establish the first catholic church in Wolcott, CT, St. Pius X. He thereafter was President of the Church Council for 40 years and served his church as a Eucharistic Minister and Principal of Sunday School. His volunteer work continued throughout his life.
Alex loved history and was a life member of the Wolcott Historical Society for the town that he loved. He served on the Board until he was nearly 103, continuing tireless service to the community into his eleventh decade. A Charter Oak proudly stands in the front yard of the house he built.
He was an avid gardener, and his blueberries were well-known; he and Julia made jelly from their berries and fruit trees. Alex was a great cook, researching and teaching others. (At one point in his youth, he wanted to be a teacher.) Due to his life-long love of learning, in his late 90's and after age 100, before Covid stopped the social activities, he graciously held weekly Italian classes in his home, with an Italian teacher, as the local college had no classroom space available for Adult Education.
The legacy of his life provides insight into the mid-twentieth century culture of post-WWII America, when a generation of men and women built the county through strong families and growing communities. When his wife Julia was born in Wolcott in 1918, the population was between 700 and 800 people. By the mid-20th century, the population was 11,000. Many community leaders emerged who helped build the Town of Wolcott. It was a good, clean, exemplary town, free of crime.
As a Latin scholar, Alex studied the ancient poets and philosophers, as his father named his 5 sons after them. The Roman statesman, Cicero, summed up Alex's life:
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Humility remained his demeanor.
Alex made lifelong friends who were loyal to the end. He was recognized many times by the town's political leaders for his dedication and service to the town. Alex was a scholar and a gentleman. The Heavens opened at the time of his death in a spectacular display of natural fireworks in the form of shooting stars (meteors of the rare and unusual Geminid meteor shower) two days before his death. People will always carry his memory in their hearts due to his unshakeable Faith. All who knew him understand we will all be comforted in knowing that he has gone to his Reward.
(Information for this article was provided by Phyllis Nole Furlong)
Julia and Alex Nole's wedding picture in 1946.
WWII photo of Alex Nole.
WWII photo of Julia Richards Nole.
To view past installments of the Historical Society News, click here.