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Charles J. Bertagna, 94, of Kensington, CT passed away on January 20, 2024 in West Hartford, CT following a brief illness.
Charley’s family was always his priority, and his love, caring, and devotion to them knew no bounds. In 1963, he married Jean (Rosadini) Bertagna, and they had three children, Peter, Catherine, and Jennifer. After Jean’s passing in 1980, Charley was a single father to his children for nearly two years before he married Audrey (Maurizio) Bertagna. He adored Audrey, who was his constant companion and supporter over the past 40 years. They built a wonderful life together, particularly enjoying domestic and international travel and time in nearby New York City. He and his son, Peter, enjoyed a close bond, and served as each other’s best man in their respective weddings. They built many wonderful memories together through years of hunting and a 35-year-long tradition of annual father/son camping trips. Charley cherished his close relationship with daughters Catherine and Jennifer and carried wonderful memories of his special times with them throughout his life. He was also a devoted grandfather who found great joy playing an active role in his grandchildren’s lives, particularly attending their games and school events while watching them grow. While they will miss him tremendously, his family is grateful for the full life that he lived and the many years they had together. He was a devoted, supportive, and loving husband, father, and grandfather.
Charley was born in Meriden in 1929 to Guido and Assunta (Pandiani) Bertagna. Following his graduation from Meriden High School, he was employed at International Silver Company before serving in the United States Army Signal Corp from 1951-1953. After returning home, Charley took advantage of the GI Bill to attend New Britain Teacher’s College, where he earned his Bachelor’s in History before going on to earn a Master’s in Education from the University of Hartford.
In 1959, Charley began his long career in education, first as a substitute instructor, then as a full-time teacher, baseball and basketball coach, then guidance counselor. In 1965, Charley was promoted to the Connecticut State Department of Education, where he would spend the rest of his professional career. During his years with the Department of Education, Charley held a number of positions, and was responsible for the development and implementation of countless programs, particularly in the area of vocational education. He retired from the Department in 1991 as Assistant to the Director of the Division of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education, with the nickname “Mr. Work Ethic”. Over the course of his career, Charley was the recipient of many honors, recognizing his contributions, hard work, and dedication to education.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Charley was also very active in local affairs, serving in leadership positions in St. Paul’s Church Parish Council and Finance Committees, the Berlin Visiting Nurses Association, the local Girl Scout Council, the Berlin Public Building Commission, and the Griswold and Percival School’s Parent Teacher Organization, among others. He was devoted to his community. He was an avid reader of non-fiction, a lifelong sports fan-especially of the Yankees-and loved music. He was a long-time personal friend of jazz pianist Pete Jolly.
Charley is survived by his wife, Audrey; son Peter and his wife, Danielle, of Sandwich, NH, and their children Lucas and Teagan; daughter Catherine Schneider and her husband, James, of Dalton, MA, and their sons Matthew and Nicholas; and daughter, Jennifer Bertagna and her husband, Christopher Rung, of West Hartford, CT, and their daughter Meryl; two cousins, and many friends. He was predeceased by his parents and his first wife, Jean.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 11:30 AM at St. Paul Church, Kensington. Please meet directly at church. Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Meriden. Calling hours are Friday from 5-7 PM at Erickson-Hansen Funeral Home of Berlin, 111 Chamberlain Hwy, Berlin. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation in Charley’s memory to The Boys & Girls Club of Meriden, 15 Lincoln Street, Meriden, CT 06451.