On November 14, 2023, in the quiet of her home, and in the company of her family, Elisabeth (Lisa) Bellissimo passed into God’s grace. She was 92 years old. Lisa was predeceased by her beloved parents, Salvatore and Felicia Bellissimo, and her dear sister and brother-in-law, Anna and Anthony “Buddy” Spinosa. Lisa is survived by her brother, Vincent Bellissimo, and many loving nieces and nephews.
Born in Vallelonga, Italy, Lisa immigrated to the United States with her family in 1938 at the age of seven. Within days of arriving in the United States, Lisa, who spoke no English, was enrolled in elementary school where no one, her teachers included, spoke Italian. Lacking the language of instruction—and fighting to overcome it—was a formative experience that shaped the course of Lisa’s life. In high school (New Canaan, 51’), her determination to not only succeed but to excel resulted in her receiving numerous awards for her scholarship as well as the admiration of her classmates, who voted her the “Top Citizen of the Senior Class.” Later, Lisa attended the University of Connecticut, where she majored in language (English and Italian) and was a founding member of the sorority Delta Epsilon Pi.
Though she originally intended to become an interpreter, Lisa ultimately realized her natural vocation was teaching. Lisa devoted her life to the instruction of children, and in particular, the teaching of English and the reading arts. Over the span of her long career, Lisa remained committed to honing the craft of teaching. She was a continuous student who did post-graduate course work throughout the decades of her career, eventually earning a master’s degree in teaching and a certification as a remedial reading specialist.
Lisa spent her professional years teaching reading arts (primarily to second graders) in the Windsor Locks area, first in Somers, and later at the Union School, and finally, at the North Street School, from which she retired in 1991 after 37 years of service. Although officially retired, Lisa continued to teach reading (especially to students with reading disabilities) on a volunteer basis throughout her long and productive retirement. In recognition of her efforts, she was named volunteer of the year at the G.W. Carver Center in 2007. All told, Lisa’s teaching career spanned nearly 60 years over which time she enlivened the imaginations of her countless students by helping them unlock the gift of reading.
Lisa’s life was one of service: to the community—through her decades of teaching; to her Catholic faith—through her committed monetary and social philanthropy; and to her family—through her abiding love, affection, and steadfast support. The world was brightened and bettered by the example of her life. She will be deeply missed and never replaced.
A funeral service will be held on November 27, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in New Canaan.