REMEMBERING ERNIE DIPIETRO: What they are saying about the late chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee
On April 24, members of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee and elected Cheshire Democrat officials lost a special friend with the passing of longtime CDTC chairman Ernie DiPietro, a person whose passion and dedication to the Democratic party was second to none in town.
Ernie was also active with many organizations including the American Legion and Cheshire Kiwanis. Cheshire residents overall lost a friend whose only objective was to do everything he could to maintain and improve the town's high standard of living by supporting Democrat candidates dedicated to that ideal.
Below, friends of Ernie share their thoughts on what he meant to them and what he meant to the town:
From U.,S. Senator Chris Murphy of Cheshire:
"Ernie didn't need to support me for State Senate when I decided to run for an open seat in 2002. I know there were others who were interested, and even though I was brand new to politics, I think Ernie saw promise in me and took me under his wing. He introduced me to people around Cheshire and made it clear I was his guy. Four years later, after moving to Cheshire, he was one of my first calls when I decided to run for Congress. I knew that I wouldn't have any credibility as a candidate if I didn't have my own Town Chairman on board, and Ernie didn't disappoint. He became one of my earliest, most vocal backers for Congress. Everybody in the area knew him, and his support was a calling card for me all over the district. One of my favorite days of the year is the Cheshire Memorial Day parade - I walk in it every year with my kids - and it was always so amazing to see Ernie walking side by side with John White at the front of the parade. Ernie was dedicated to the Democratic party, but his country always came first. It was a wonderful lesson for my kids to see every year - a diehard Democrat and a diehard Republican together in support of our fallen heroes. That ability to be at the same time a fierce partisan and an unrelenting patriot was at the heart of Ernie's service, and will remain an example that all of us in politics should strive to follow."
From state Rep. Liz Linehan (D) of Cheshire:
"Ernie gave me my start in politics. He had asked me simply to be a placeholder; but I told him I'd only run if I were the real candidate, with full support. He agreed, and lived up to that promise! I have always admired Ernie for having the guts to take a chance on me - and I'm forever grateful that he did. He truly loved Cheshire, and was committed to making our town a wonderful place to live. I'm thankful for his commitment and service to our town and country, but even more so for his friendship. Rest peacefully, Ernie. You will be missed. "
From Cheshire Town Councilor Peter Talbot (D):
"Ernie DiPietro defined the phrase public service. While we all knew him from his leadership of the Democratic Party for more than two decades, he was also the Commander of the American Legion Post, co-organized the Memorial Day parade in Cheshire, was a longtime, active member of Cheshire Kiwanis and volunteered with another half dozen organizations in the area. He handled all his positions with dignity and grace. Regardless of political affiliation there was a genuine respect for Ernie and he will be truly missed."
From Lou Todisco, CDTC member, member Cheshire Planning and Zoning Commission:
"Ernie had many qualities worthy of being mentioned. One quality is that Ernie would do the difficult things which need to be done to maintain an organization such as ours. Ernie was willing to face people who were critical of the town committee, or its members, listen to their criticism (often not delivered nicely), and address the matter. He played peacemaker more times than we know. He would also give a person bad news if needed, an unenviable task. He did these tough things behind the scenes, without fanfare, or asking for praise. He just did it. These are the qualities of a leader. We will miss him."
From Rosalie Fountain, chairwoman of the CDTC Finance Committee:
"Ernie would call me on holidays and on CDWC (Cheshire Democratic Women's Club) business. We had great talks and I will miss his calls. He and Carol were very special to me and I will always remember his kind ways."
From Marty Cobern, CDTC member:
In the thirty or so years I knew Ernie, I found him to be one of the most giving people I had met. His choices, whether his vocation of teaching or his avocations of the VFW and local politics, revolved around helping others.
In all of this, he was one of the nicest people in the world. I never heard him attack anyone in the other party. The most you would hear is a sardonic comment said with a raised eyebrow. There are far too few nice people in the world, and fewer still in politics. He will be greatly missed.
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.