Rafael Collazo, 85, devoted husband, father and Meriden town elder, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 24, 2019, at the Connecticut Baptist Home in Meriden. Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on October 28, 1933, Rafael was the son of Marcelino and Providencia.
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In 1950 he moved to the United States and soon became a community leader in Meriden. He was a political pioneer, as the second Puerto Rican to sit on the Board of Aldermen, the president of the Hispanic Action Agency, and a founder of the Casa Boricua de Meriden, a social service agency devoted to Hispanic residents in need. Rafael was elected president of the first union local at the International Silver Company, where he worked until retirement. After retiring, he joined Maier Realty as one of the only Hispanic realtors in the area and taught a UConn course to help minorities start small businesses.
Rafael’s compassion for others, which extended into his long and successful career, began at home. He always put others before himself, and his kitchen table was often filled with people seeking his help and advice. His son, Raphael, Jr. “Papo”, describes him as “the kindest, most caring man I have ever known,” and his daughter, Carmen Coleman, writes that she is “humbled and proud” to have him as a father. He loved to play traditional Spanish songs on guitar and passed his musical talent on to Papo and his grandson, Jamie
He is survived by his daughter, Carmen and her husband Daniel, of New Britain, his son Papo and his wife, Julie, of Berlin; his grandson Jamie and his wife Mindy, of Nashville; three step-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his grandson Alexander Gonzalez, and his beloved wife Teresa, who died in 2018.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial to be held on Friday May 31, 2019 at 10 A.M. at St. Rose of Lima Church, 35 Center Street, Meriden, CT 06450. Burial will be at Sacred Heart Cemetery. There are no calling hours. The John J. Ferry & Sons Funeral Home, 88 East Main Street, Meriden, is entrusted with the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Rafael’s memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. For online condolences, please visit jferryfh.com.