The Republican Party and the City of West Haven lost a longtime friend, mentor, and ambassador with the death of Jennie Rechhia Marchitto, last week. The longtime resident, known as Aunt Jennie to many, was laid to rest Friday with funeral services at St. Paul’s Church.
Known as one of the many people that gave Allingtown its special Italian flavor and culture, she was also involved in the political life of the city as a longtime Republican. She was seen for decades as a poll worker, Republican Town Committee member, and member of several organizations, including Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Chapel in Allingtown that was a chapel of ease for St. Paul’s Parish until its closure.
One person who knew her well was Republican Registrar of Voters Jo Ann Callegari. The city official was saddened by the passing of Marchitto, but counted her as a friend for many years.
“I was fortunate enough to have known Jennie Marchitto for over 50 years,” said Callegari this week. “She previously held the position of Sixth District Town Committee member, and during elections she was my Head Checker in the Sixth District and served right into her 80s. She was sharp as a tack, and knew everyone in her district.
Politics was not the only reason Callegari counted Jennie Marchitto as a friend.
“I have so many fond memories of Jennie. She was such a humble, kind, religious person and devoted to her Family, to God, and to the Republican Party,” Callegari said. When Jennie was honored as Republican of the Year, the Italian-American Club was sold out!! Everyone wanted to honor “Aunt Jen’ as she was affectionately known by all.”
While she was well known and well loved, she also had a keen perception of her place in life, guided by a higher authority.
“Jennie always had a smile on her face and would say to me, ‘Jo Ann, I thank God for every day. I am so blessed.’”
One of the things many who know her marvel at was her perfect penmanship, something she used often, and in some very interesting ways.
“She had such excellent penmanship and would write many a thoughtful prayer. She taught me so much about kindness and respect, and was like a second Mother to me. When “Aunt Jen” was on your side, you felt so protected,” said Callegari.
Callegari has been Republican Registrar for decades, but that time in office hasn’t been without its challenges, including attempts to unseat her. Marchitto was there to help.
“Politically, she helped to save me twice when I needed the help. She called every voter in the City for me when I was opposed, and I won two to one! I feel so privileged and blessed to have had Jennie Marchitto in my life, and she will always have a place in my heart,” she said finally.
Patricia Libero, chairman of the Republican Town Committee was equally fond of Marchitto, and offered a statement.
“Jennie was an inspiration to West Haven. She volunteered at the church, she was a dedicated Republican. Her energy was boundless. My hope is that her legacy inspires others to do the same,” she said..
Marchitto was predeceased by her husband, Joseph, and a son Michael and a grandson, Joseph Michael Conlon, her brothers, Albert, Anthony and William Rechhia, a step-sister, Josephine Conway, and son-in-law Joseph Conlon.
She is survived by her daughter, Judith Conlon, and her sisters, Justine Iamele, and Rose Maggiore, and grandchildren Kimberly and Mark Conlon, Michael (Katy) Marchitto, Andrew Marchitto, great-grandchildren Thomas, Melissa and Aiden Conlon, Joseph, Becky and Lilly Marchitto and several nieces and nephews.