Cover photo for Raymond Mario DelPo's Obituary
Raymond Mario DelPo Profile Photo
1934 Raymond 2023

Raymond Mario DelPo

March 4, 1934 — December 2, 2023

DENVER, CO -- Raymond Mario DelPo died Saturday, December 2, 2023, from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. He was 89 years old.

Ray was born in Waterbury, CT, on March 4, 1934, to Angelina (Datelle) and Mario DelPo. He attended Crosby High School in Waterbury and St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, CT.

The son and grandson of Italian immigrants, Ray was the first person in his family to attend college, earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College in 1958 and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Smith College in 1967. Ray spent his professional career as a social worker and therapist for children, adults, and families. At a time when mental illness was stigmatized and therapy was viewed with suspicion, Ray was a passionate advocate for people struggling with mental health, and he believed that everyone had the right to therapy regardless of their race or their economic circumstances. He led publicly funded mental health clinics in Boston, MA; Tucson, AZ; and Camden, SC.

In 1958, Ray met the love of his life, Eleanor, and they married in 1959. Their first date lasted 24 hours and included falling asleep on the beach. They shared a passion for ideas, politics, music, and family. They loved to travel across the country, camping along the way. Among their many adventures, they drove from Boston to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, rafted down the Colorado River, hiked in the Grand Canyon, and walked hand in hand along beaches on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They also shared a commitment to helping others. 

Ray had an astonishing array of interests and talents. He was a lifelong pianist, and he often said that aside from his wife, the piano was his closest friend. He was a skilled carpenter, and he built much of the furniture in the family home. He reveled in finding things at the local dump and then repairing them – whether it was a toaster or an end table. He was as happy reading a book as he was working on a car engine. He had a beautiful tenor voice. He played in bands and sang in choirs. He wrote poetry, gardened (he tended a farm of pecan trees and blueberry bushes), and baked biscuits on Sunday mornings. He was known for his sense of humor (he had a distinctive chuckle), his wisdom, and his sweet and deeply compassionate nature.

Ray often spoke of his childhood adventures with his brothers, Jack and Donald, and his cousins. He fondly remembered ice skating on frozen swamps and swinging on birch trees and running around a neighborhood where everyone knew him. He lived in an Italian community, and that identification was very much a part of him. His favorite Italian proverb was “a ogni uccello il suo nido è bello,” which means “to every bird his own nest is beautiful.” He cherished opera and could be moved to tears by a beautiful aria. Unsurprisingly, he thought Puccini superior to Mozart.

After Ray’s children left home, he pursued his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. He said the world was beautiful from the air. He eventually built his own plane from a kit that came in two giant boxes. The instructions were in French (a language he did not speak), but he persevered. After he flew the plane for the first time, he said: “Dreams really do come true.”

Ray was the best kind of father and grandfather, fully engaged in the lives of his children and grandchildren. When his son, Luke, was a boy, Ray spent weekends driving through the desert with him, collecting rare rocks and minerals. When his daughter, Amy, was growing up, they played the piano and sang together almost daily. Ray was emotionally intelligent and a keen observer of life, and he passed along his wisdom to his family. When his grandchildren rode on the carousel, he stood to the side and watched, just so they would have someone to wave to. That was the most important part of riding a carousel, he said, having someone to wave to.

Ray first showed signs of Parkinson’s Disease about seven years ago, and the last years of his life were spent with his daughter and son in law and their family in Denver. His final years were not his best years, but they were not bad ones, either. He was content to listen to music, eat cookies, watch the sun set over the Rocky Mountains, sit in the garden, and chat with whoever was with him.

Ray was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor. She developed Alzheimer’s Disease about ten years before she passed, and he devotedly cared for her in their home until the end.

Ray leaves behind his two children, Luke DelPo of Smith Mountain Lake, VA, and Amy DelPo of Denver, CO. He also leaves a daughter in law, Debbie Handy, of Smith Mountain Lake; and a son in law, Paul Means, of Denver. He is survived by three grandchildren on his daughter’s side: Sophia Means, Charlie Means, and Lucy Means, of Denver. On his son’s side, he leaves behind a granddaughter, Stephanie (Handy) Burton, of Glade Hill, VA; two great-granddaughters, Lauren (Wood) Trent and Jenna Burton, and one great-great- granddaughter, Avery Trent. He is also survived by his brothers, Jack DelPo of Middlebury, CT, and Donald DelPo of Willow Grove, PA.

The family would like to thank the many nurses and aides who cared for Ray in his last years, including Mia, Kait, Irma, Kerith, Kolton, Renee, Valerie, Genet, Maddie, Reatha, Cherokee, Sarah, Clarion, and Ariana.

If you would like to honor Ray, listen deeply to a piece of music or a loved one, dip some biscotti into a glass of white wine or a cup of coffee, be kind to a child or a stranger. Watch the clouds drift across the sky. Read some poetry. Laugh.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, you donate to the Maria Droste Counseling Center in Denver or another charity of your choice, keeping in mind Ray’s lifelong commitment to caring for children and families and people struggling with their mental health. 

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