Baldwin native and lifelong storyteller Angelo “Andy” Sigillo died Feb. 28 at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut of complications from diabetes and old age, family members said. He was 98.
Known for his booming voice and unwavering dedication to family, Sigillo was born June 24, 1918, in Baldwin, where he lived until 2010, when he moved to Connecticut to live closer to family.
Throughout his life, Sigillo had an improbable knack for finding himself in the midst of historical moments and famous people — all of which made for great stories around the family dinner table, said grandson Jim Palma, 40, of New Haven.
“As a little kid, he made everything seem larger than life,” Palma said. “As we got older and started to learn about all these historical moments, it changed our perspective on these things he did, and it became very profound.”
Whether it was the time Sigillo danced with Bette Davis at New York City’s Stage Door Canteen, or his childhood memory of watching Charles Lindbergh take off from Roosevelt field in 1927 on a transatlantic flight to Paris, the family never grew tired of the patriarch’s storytelling, Palma said.
His grandchildren often asked him to retell the story of how he met their grandmother, Rose, who died in 1997. The couple were married for 51 years.
Their story began on a street corner in New Haven in the early 1940s. The former Rose LaPorte was walking home from church with her sister and a friend when she spotted Sigillo in his Air Force dress uniform.
“She tapped his shoulder and said, ‘Soldier, if I had a car, I’d give you a ride,’” said granddaughter Kristen Palma, 45, of Cambridge. “She grabbed his hat! . . . I think he just loved her pluck and her humor.”
She said Sigillo knew he couldn’t return to his base without his hat. So he ran after the girls to retrieve it. Their courtship began soon after, and the couple married in 1946.
Sigillo enlisted at Camp Upton in 1942. He served stateside with the 1st and 3rd Army Air Corps. He retired with the rank a corporal in 1945.
He joined the Baldwin Fire Department in 1951 as a volunteer firefighter and served as captain in 1954 and 1955. Sigillo remained an involved member of the department for more than 60 years, holding the title of honorary chief at the time of his death.
Sigillo is survived by two daughters, Rene Austin, 70, of Clinton, Connecticut, and Marie Elena Martin, 67, Largo, Florida. In addition to grandchildren Jim Palma and Kristen Palma, he is also survived by granddaughter Nicole Martin, 38, of Pineville, Missouri, grandson David Martin, 35, of St. Petersburg, Florida, and one great-grandson. In addition to his wife, Rose, Sigillo was preceded in death by sisters Rose, Carmela and Mary, Ann, and brother Espedito, who was also known as “Buddy.”
Sigillo’s wake was held Friday at Fullerton Funeral Home in Baldwin and the funeral was Saturday at St. Christopher’s Church, also in Baldwin. He was buried Saturday at the Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.