Achilles Joseph Zanetti Jr., 96, passed away peacefully on July 2, 2023 at Kimball Farm Nursing Care Center in Lenox.
Achilles, known as Sonny to family and friends, was born on November 18, 1926 in Great Barrington to the late Achilles and Josephine Castagnetti Zanetti. Sonny was predeceased by his wife of 65 years, Helen Fulco Zanetti. He leaves his sister, Christine “Teena,” and her husband, Dr. Charles Parton. He was also predeceased by his sister, Juliette “Sis,” and her husband, Gilbert Desautels. Growing up, Sonny and Sis delivered The Berkshire Eagle from 1935 to 1940 saving their money to buy their first bicycles. While attending school, Sonny worked and learned the meat cutting trade at Larkin’s Market in Great Barrington.
At the age of 17, Sonny enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was stationed on the USS General J. H. McRae (AP-149) in the European and Asiatic Pacific theaters. There he earned the American Campaign Medal, WWII Liberation Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal, the European/African/Middle East Medal, and the Philippines Liberation Medal. After completing his tour of duty, he returned to finish his schooling, graduating from Searles High School in 1947.
In 1953 and 1954, Sonny operated Gibson’s Grove on Lake Buel in Monterey. In 1955, he joined Fasteners Inc. in Great Barrington as a manufacturing manager.
Sonny married the love of his life, Helen Fulco, on October 19, 1957 at St. Peter’s Church in Great Barrington, and they soon purchased their first home where they raised their children and lived out their lives.
In 1960, Sonny began working as a manufacturing manager for Nuclear Components Inc. in Great Barrington and was employed there for the next 21 years until it closed. From there, he moved to the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. as the Book and Athletic Store manager until his retirement in 1991. Post-retirement, he continued to work part-time as assistant funeral director at Birches-Roy Funeral Home.
Sonny joined the Knights of Columbus in 1951 to the Mount Everett Counsel #513, becoming Grand Knight and District Deputy as well as Fourth degree member of the Bishop County Assembly #395 and Honorary Life member. He was also a life member of the James Modolo VFW Post and a life member and Commander of American Legion Post #127. He was a member of the St. Peters Parish Council and sexton for over 40 years. He was also a past president of the Domodossolo, a local Italian American organization.
Sonny was an avid bowler and president of the Great Barrington Bowling League as well as the first elected president of the Southern Berkshire Bowling Association. Sonny loved sports and the outdoors as he often enjoyed fishing, hunting, golfing, and was a fan of the New York Yankees and New York Giants. Sonny enjoyed projects where he could use his woodworking skills, making doll houses and toys. Sonny and Helen enjoyed traveling, often vacationing in Maine and spending winter months in Las Vegas with their daughter, Kathleen. Sonny was proud of his large vegetable garden, where he grew everything at least once—including grapes to make his own wine.
Most of all, Sonny loved his family and family gatherings, enjoying parties and dancing the polka with Helen. He and Helen had four daughters: Rosemarie Terwilliger (Gordon) of Guilford, Conn.; Theresa Zanetti of Stockbridge; Kathleen Zanetti of Las Vegas, Nev.; and Barbara (Robert Brownson) Zanetti of Sheffield. He was a grandfather of four: Christopher Terwilliger (Jessica Thomson) of Middletown, Conn.; Matthew Terwilliger of Guilford, Conn.; and Austin Miner and Julia Miner of Stockbridge; He was also a recent great-grandfather of Juniper Terwilliger of Middletown, Conn.
The family would like to thank all of Sonny’s caregivers, especially their youngest daughter, Barbara.
Funeral Mass for Achilles “Sonny” J. Zanetti will be held on Monday, July 10, 2023 at 10 a.m., with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at Saint Peter’s Church with Reverend William P. Murphy Pastor officiating. Burial with Military Honors will follow in Saint Peter’s Cemetery in Great Barrington. Family will receive friends on Monday, July 10 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Birches-Roy Funeral Home, 33 South St., Great Barrington, MA 01230. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Sonny’s memory may be made to the Saint Peter’s Restoration Fund in care of the funeral home. Condolences may be made through the funeral home’s website.