On Thursday, July 21st 2022, Stephen Stanko, loving husband of Theresa Stanko (Verzi) and father of two children, passed away at the age of 89 after a brief illness.
Stephen (Steve) was born on June 12th, 1933, in Ansonia Connecticut, where he was the youngest of 7 children to John Stanko and Mary Mihalak. At a young age, he was quickly faced with adversity when his father passed away when he was just 9 years old. Despite this loss, and growing up during the Great Depression, Steve maintained a strong sense of optimism and enjoyed life to the fullest. Steve enjoyed playing basketball and baseball, he developed a reputation as a neighborhood card shark, honing his skills playing cards under the corner street lamps. He loved the Big Band sounds of Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller and dreamed of becoming a radio disk jockey.
An example of his determination and drive is when Steve wished to take an airplane ride to see his hometown from the air, but his mother could not afford the cost. He saved his summer wages from his paper route, road his bicycle from Ansonia to an airport in Oxford, paid for a plane ride, and proceeded to direct the pilot to fly over his neighborhood as he marveled from above.
Memorable also was the time when his local softball team, the Windy Hill Rustlers played a night game in New London Connecticut. The ‘Rustlers’ were a stand in replacement for the older more experienced Windy Hill Outlaws. Arriving at the distant and impressive stadium he and his friends were finally playing under the lights for the first time. Steve and his boyhood friends, Joey Musante, Vinny Wantroba, Dan Halchek and others were initially mocked and the crowd laughed when the much younger boys took the field. However, with steel resolve, gritty determination, and being highly skilled in the field, the boy’s play turned the local crowd against their own home-team and cheered them on as the Rustlers went on to win against the much older New London rivals.
Steve attended Stone’s Business College in the 1950s where he met the woman who would become his beloved wife. Steve and Theresa (Terri) Verzi married in 1959 in Shelton, Connecticut. Wanting a home to call their own, the couple bucked the trend of immediately having children and waited to start a family until the mid 1960s when they welcomed a daughter, Maryann (Sonny), and son Stephen.
The family resided in Shelton where they enjoyed many happy memories of pool parties and cookouts with their neighbors on Ivy Lane. Delicious home cooked meals with their Slovak, Italian, and Polish relatives were a regular occurrence, with Ziti and Pierogi being common Sunday fare.
Steve retired to Deep River, Connecticut after a 40 year career as an award winning technical writer with Sikorsky Aircraft. Besides spending time with his loving family, Steve remained active with the Old Saybrook Estuary Council and playing in pinochle and pool leagues.
Steve is predeceased by his Mother Mary and father John, brothers John Stanko of Oxford Ct, and Mike Stanko of Westbrook Ct, his sisters Mary Matika of Ansonia, Ann Mudry of Ansonia, Barbara Carey of Shelton, and Elizabeth Koehler of Beacon Falls. Married for nearly 64 years Steve is survived by his wife Terri of Deep River, his daughter Sonny Lucero, son-in-law Sam Lucero and grandson Illya Lucero of San Diego California, his son Stephen of East Hampton Ct, and numerous nieces and nephews. He also leaves brother-in-laws Michael Verzi and Samuel Verzi of Shelton Ct.
There will be no calling hours and funeral arrangements will be private. In celebration of his life, please make a donation to the American Cancer Society at https://donate3.cancer.org in his honor.