Walter F. Gannon, Jr., 86, of North Haven, passed away peacefully on, Thursday, February 1, 2018, in Wallingford, CT. He was born in New Haven to the late Walter and Anna (Meroth) Gannon in 1931. Walter was predeceased by his wife and elementary school sweetheart, Lois “Betty Lou” Carter, this past December after 61 years of marriage. He was predeceased by two sisters, Ann “Nancy” Halligan of Seymour and Arlene Murphy of New Haven.
He is survived by his six loving children: sons, Daniel of Hamden and Eric of Cheshire; daughters, Tracey (John) Rogers of North Haven, Maureen (Peter) DeRose of East Haven, Mary Catherine (Kevin) Degnan of Madison and Ann (Daniel) Sivori of Vermont; five grandchildren Lindsey, Danielle, Troy, Albert and Jessica as well as three great-granddaughters Rowan, Sienna and Willow. Walter is also survived by his brother, Edward Gannon of North Haven; sisters, Janyce Gilman of Branford, Marilyn Kozin of New Haven and Margie Slater of West Haven; brother-in-laws John Halligan of Seymour and James Murphy of New Haven. He is also survived by many adoring nieces and nephews.
Walter graduated from Sacred Heart Elementary School, which was the foundation of his lifelong commitment to the Catholic faith. He later graduated from James Hillhouse High School in 1949. An Army veteran during the Korean War serving in Europe, Walter remained an extremely patriotic American until his death. He was employed by Southern New England Telephone Company for 33 years as a lineman and installer before retiring in 1989. Walter traveled extensively with his wife throughout the USA as well as internationally. His attention to detail and Irish gift of storytelling allowed him to recite every moment of those trips, which held his audience captive. Walter’s love of athletics led him to become a Nautilus instructor at the Hamden YMCA and a life guard/swimming coach at the North Haven Community Pool during his retirement. Walter was extremely fit and competed in numerous triathlons as well as the annual Cross Harbor Swim from 1980 to 1993. He belonged to the Hamden Tsunami Swim Team of the Connecticut Masters Swim Club and for over 20 years he could be found every Sunday morning at the Brownstone Diner in Hamden with his faithful Sleeping Giant Pacers Running buddies Al, Jack, Gerry & Sid. He would also meet retired SNET colleagues every Tuesday morning at Panera Bread for life discussions and friendship. He was a member of the Elks Club both New Haven and Hamden for 25 years. Walter spent every weekday morning at the Breakfast Nook in North Haven where he held a celebrity-like status thanks to the incredible work staff and owners. He is famously remembered for the last 20 years as “the guy on the scooter” attending Yale football games and tailgating parties as well as riding through downtown New Haven traversing his old stomping grounds. He was the “unofficial mayor” of his Bassett Road neighborhood in which he interacted on a daily basis with neighbors while smoking his cigars. He had a love for telling stories and making connections with people and has touched thousands of lives over the years. Most importantly, Walter was intensely proud of his Irish-American heritage and the ancestors who immigrated to the Hill Neighborhood of New Haven. Walter made everyone feel special and he had a strong sense of purpose. His family finds solace knowing he is once again reunited with his wife and together they dance in celebration of a life well lead. The family would especially like to acknowledge his friend and aide Tina Goriss who cared for him the last several years. Her kindness and compassion put Walter at ease during difficult times, which in turn comforted his children knowing he was in good hands. The family would also like to thank the staff and Johnson apartment community at Masonic Health Care for their friendship. A 1993 stroke caused left side paralysis, however, the My-Ride of Greater New Haven Transit helped keep his spirit and freedom alive as the drivers would take him and his scooter to regular planned excursions and for that, his family is grateful.
Family and friends are invited to go directly to St. Frances Cabrini Church, 57 Pond Hill Road, North Haven of Wednesday morning Feb. 7th at 10:00 to attend a Mass of Christian burial and are also invited to attend the committal service immediately following in the All Saints Mausoleum with full military honors. The visiting hours will be Tuesday, Feb. 6th from 4 to 7 pm in the North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Hamden Elks Lodge #2224, 175 School Street, Hamden, CT 06518