Those We Lost: Uncasville man served in Navy, taught at Norwich Tech
The 20 years Annamay and Santo "Sam" Sperazza shared were spent in retirement, when the couple traveled the world, cruising the Mediterranean for a month, walking the Great Wall of China and celebrating New Year's Eve with a pig roast and luau in Hawaii.
"He was a lot of fun," Annamay said of her late husband. "He was always ready to go and investigate something. He'd want to do something, and before you knew it, you'd have all kinds of pamphlets in front of you."
They lived in Florida but returned to Connecticut a few years ago. They lived together in Uncasville until Sam was hospitalized, diagnosed with COVID-19 and put in hospice; he died Dec. 27 at age 88. Annamay said she also got COVID-19, but not as bad, and had to quarantine.
"That's a real bad thing to happen to married couples, when you're together for years, around the clock," she said.
On top of this "true horror," she has been frustrated as she has been unable to schedule a vaccine appointment over the past week — what she called her civic duty, so she doesn't infect others or herself.
Navy service, teaching and traveling
Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Sam moved to Connecticut and graduated from New Britain High School. He joined the Navy and served on the USS Dixie AD 14 in the Korean War, before getting an engineering degree at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He then taught air conditioning and heating at Norwich Technical High School.
He had three kids with his first wife. Sam was widowed, as was Annamay.
She said of his military service, "He and a lot of his friends were of the same mind; they wanted America to be free."
This patriotism also came through in their attitude toward traveling: "We are the greatest country in the world," Annamay said, and while they thought it was wonderful to see how other people live, they were pleased to be Americans.
She said they also traveled to England, Greece and Dubai, and that Sam liked camping but that wasn't so much her style. He didn't care for fancy food, Annamay said: Even in other countries, they were looking for McDonald's.
"We had a wonderful life," she said. "We saw a lot of things, learned a lot, and it was just great."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to remove assertions other family members disputed.
Stories that may interest you
Following the shooting in Indianapolis, Sikh Sewak Society International USA President and Sikh Art Gallery Director Swaranjit Singh Khalsa issued a statement expressing the importance of more education to combat hate crimes.
Absentee ballots for the Tuesday, April 27, budget referendum are now available in the town clerk's office.
Norwich Youth and Family Services will host a free virtual family paint night from 7 to 8 p.m. April 29, with all supplies provided to participating families.
All of our stories about the coronavirus are being provided free of charge as a service to the public. You can find all of our stories here.
You can support local journalism by subscribing to The Day.