Michael Edward Errico
January 18, 1920 ~ November 27, 2014
Michael Edward Errico, a Norwalk native who maintained a lifelong relationship with his hometown as a pivotal leader of both the Norwalk Oldtimers Athletic Association and the Norwalk High School Alumni Association, died Thanksgiving Day in Sparta, N.J., after a brief illness. He was 94.
Mr. Errico was a retired executive in the shim industry who achieved prominence for his involvement in Norwalk athletic circles virtually his entire lifetime. In his later years, he was active in civic affairs including the Norwalk High School Alumni Association, which he helped to found. He later was named by the Alumni Association to the prestigious Wall of Honor, as one of Norwalk High’s distinguished alumni.
“Mike was the most brilliant man I ever met,” said NHSAA President Patrick D. Spinola. “He was like a big brother to me, always willing to share ideas and lend a hand in difficult situations. I called him just two days ago for some advice.”
Dr. Albert V. Burke, M.D., chairman of the NHSAA Wall of Honor Committee, who had worked closely with Mr. Errico in recent years, was impressed by “the extraordinary organizational“ capacity of the man whose meticulous command of details and physical stamina was unusual for someone his age.
Indeed, until a few months ago, Mr. Errico had driven regularly to Norwalk alone and back home to Sparta, N.J. in the same day to attend a meeting.
The son of the late Charles and Rose Vecchio Errico, raised in the Spring Hill section, was married to the late Theodora Louise Rickert Errico, R.N., for more than 70 years.
Mr. Errico entered the shim industry in 1947 as a salesman for the Laminated Shim Company at Glenbrook in Stamford after four years with the U. S. Army. In more than 27 years with that corporation, he attained the position of Vice President and Marketing Manager before the company was sold in 1970. During the late 1960s, working in conjunction with the U. S. Army Laboratory in Natick, Mass., he was involved in the development of a safety insole which ended the scourge of punji stakes which had been impaling American servicemen in the rice paddies of Vietnam.
Since the new company which bought out Laminated Shim Co already had a Vice President and Marketing Manager, he was ultimately offered the opportunity to resign without prejudice and, within a few months, with several fellow employees, formed a new shim company in South Norwalk, Blaisdell/East, later to become Beta Shim Company.
Beta Shim thrived, furnishing shims and related products to national aerospace companies, including the Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Aircraft. In 1996, Mr. Errico sold his interest and resigned his position as Chairman and CEO after 20 years. Earlier, he also had served as secretary of Laminated Shim/Somers Thin Strip and, for a short period, was president of Blaisdell Mfg. Co. of Brea, California.
Before World War II, he had been employed by Allen Billmeyer Co., in South Norwalk, as Assistant to the Plant Manager after a stint as a newspaper reporter for the Bridgeport Times-Star. He also was the first sports director and sportscaster for Radio Station WNLK in Norwalk from 1948 to 1950.
During his high school years, he thought that sports writing was to be his niche when he covered high school sports for the late Williard R. Williams, long time sports editor of The Norwalk Hour. He covered local sports and served as president and/or secretary of the Rotary Football League, Kiwanis Basketball League, Norwalk Twilight League and Fairfield County Football League. He founded the Spring Hill Tigers and, shortly after joining the U. S. Army during World War II, he was honored by the Norwalk Twilight League, for which he had been president, with a “Mike Errico Day at Duffy Field.” In later years he was to receive sports awards from the Jewish Center as well as the Norwalk Old Timers Athletic Association.
As a founder and past president, the Old Timers honored him by naming an annual award in his honor. The “Mike Errico Award” is presented annually to outstanding local sports establishments and individuals. For many years, he was the presenter of awards at Old Timers dinners, his magnificent voice and crisp diction commanding the attention of audiences in excess of 400. He was the last surviving founder of this organization established in 1962.
Assigned to the Medical Department of the U. S. Army during World War II, Mr. Errico served with several stateside military units before being commissioned at Officer’s Candidate School. Among his later assignments was a tour of duty as a Special Services Officer, where he escorted famous personages, such as movie star Actor Cary Grant, in their visits to military hospitals. He was also an organizer of sports teams which numbered noted major leaguers on their rosters. As a First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocates Department in Manila, Philippines, he was assigned to defend a GI charged with murder in a General Court Martial trial. Since he had never studied law nor attended college for that matter, his successful defense of the defendant was widely acclaimed.
Mr. Errico was elected president of his Norwalk High School Class of February, 1938, and received no less than six awards at his graduation. In June, 1936, he started the first NHS newspaper, “The Green Wave,” which currently is winning honors in the state as “The Paw Print.” He also managed to make the varsity baseball team. His class spent three years at the yellow brick high school on West Avenue, with its double sessions, and was the last ever class to graduate in February.
Over the years he has also been affiliated with the Norwalk Rotary Club, the American Legion Post 12, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Kent Hollow Rod & Gun Club, the Spring Hill Tigers, the Laurel Athletic Club and was a director of the Norwalk YMCA. He was a long time parishioner at St. Jerome Church.
Mr. Errico adored his family on which he bestowed great love and affection. He is survived by two daughters, Kathleen Anne and her husband, William E. Granata of New Milford, and Laura and her husband, Colonel Alfred A. Coppola,
In addition to his beloved wife, Teddy, he was predeceased by an infant son, Michael, two brothers, Anthony Charles and Michele and two sisters, Lillian DuPlessis and Felicia Errico.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Monday at 10 a.m.in St. Jerome Church, Half Mile Road, Norwalk. Interment will be at the convenience of the family.
Friends may call from 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Collins Funeral Home, 92 East Ave.
Contributions may be made to the Norwalk High School Scholarship Foundation, PO Box 493, Norwalk, CT 06852.
Francis X. Fay Jr.