Derby mourns passing of its Italian sister city mayor

September 18, 2018

DERBY-For 16 years Derby had a sister city connection with Italy.

Now both are mourning a loss.

Tonino Bartone,the 63-year-old longtime mayor of Puglianello in Italy’s Benevento province died recently after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“It’s sad,” said Mayor Richard Dziekan. “Marc (Garofalo) knew him very well and spoke highly of him. Derby sends it condolences to his family.”

A friendship developed in 2001 with then Derby Mayor and now Town/City Clerk Marc Garofalo, who was visiting the homeland of his relatives.

It led to the two small cities developing a sister city relationship that spring and several exchange visits followed.

Garofalo visited Bartone at least 10 times since then.

“He was always so gracious and welcoming,” said Garofalo, who served four terms as this city’s mayor and now is in his second term as Town/City clerk. “I enjoyed spending time with him. I know of many Derby residents who say the same thing about him during their visits there.”

Garofalo visited him for the last time over two days in August, just a few weeks after Bartone was re-elected.

“It was obvious he was not doing well. He had stopped treatment. But we talked about our cities, we joked and laughed,”Garofalo said.

Bartone served as Puglianello’s mayor of at least a quarter of a century.

“In that area he was a bigger than life individual,” Garofalo said. “He was very influential particularly in helping them build their infrastructure.”

Puglianello is a town of 1,340 residents in the province of Benevento in Italy’s Campania region. It is about a half-hour from Naples and Caserta. Over the years it has been attempting to convert from an agricultural based economy to an industrial one.

Garofalo and Alderwoman Barbara DeGennaro, a local lawyer, trace their roots to that Italian city.

Bartone visited Derby in 2003 as part of the Sister City Initiative and hosted several delegations from Derby in Puglianello, Garofalo said.

“He was here around Columbus Day,” Garofalo recalled. “We took him to Jones Farm in Shelton and the Yale Museum of British Art. We gave him a boat ride on the Housatonic and bought him apizza at Roselands.”

But what was perplexing to Bartone was seeing porch after porch filled with pumpkins decorated for Halloween.

“We tried to explain why this was done but he thought it was wasteful-that they should be eaten,” Garofalo said.

The following year the Derby High School band was in Italy and Bartone hosted them during a visit in Puglianello.

Bartone leaves his wife, Mirella and sons Giuseppe and Valentino.

Please join Mayor Richard Dziekan and the entire City of Derby in expressing our deepest and sincere condolences to the Bartone Family and the entire Town of Puglianello on the loss of their Husband, Father, and Mayor.

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