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Michael Nazzaro, 85; was North End legislator

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Published on April 12, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B12

Soon after striking up a conversation with someone, Michael Nazzaro Jr. would be quick to offer to show a picture of his “pride and joy.”

With three daughters and five grandchildren, many assumed it would be the latest family photo. But people would be taken aback when he pulled out a laminated picture of Pride cleaning solution and Joy dishwashing liquid.

“If you met him 50 times, he probably told you the same joke over and over,” said his youngest daughter, Carla DiOrio of Revere.

Mr. Nazzaro, a longtime prankster and former state representative from Boston’s North End, died of complications of lymphoma March 26 at the North End Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. He was 85.

Born and raised in the North End, he enlisted in the US Army in 1943, soon after graduating from Boston High School of Commerce. After he was discharged in 1946 as a sergeant major, he studied at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1950.

Mr. Nazzaro immediately accepted a job in Washington with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a business economist. He assisted in the Korean War effort by working in the Office of Price Stabilization and later worked as a price economist helping to regulate the iron and steel industries.

While in Washington, he learned that parts of Boston’s West End were being torn down in the name of urban renewal and hoped to avert similar circumstances in the North End. He moved back in the mid-1950s, and, after two attempts, won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives representing the North End in 1958.

“Seeing what happened in the West End, he was a key figure in keeping the neighborhood alive and strong,” said Aaron Michlewitz, who now holds Mr. Nazzaro’s House seat.

While in the House, Mr. Nazzaro founded and ran Nazzaro Insurance Agency in the North End, where he would spend most of his Saturdays. Soon after he began his political career, he married Jean Uva and they raised three daughters.

“There were tough times financially,” DiOrio said. “A politician doesn’t make great money, but he was a family man.”

He remained in the House of Representatives until 1964, helping to preserve the North End. He continued with his insurance business and remained a prominent figure in the community.

“He served before my generation, so the neighborhood that we grew up in was such a special place because of Michael Nazzaro,” Michlewitz said. “For that, it’s a huge loss to the community.”

As he grew older, Mr. Nazzaro remained close with his parents, stopping at their home every day on his way to and from work. In the summer, the family would rent a house in Marshfield, and he loved taking weekend golfing trips.

When his daughters began families of their own, he took great pride in his grandchildren and would spend time with them making up stories and silly songs for their amusement.

In addition to DiOrio, Mr. Nazzaro leaves his daughters Laureen Anglin of Medford and Adele Leonardi-LaFleur of Newton; and five grandchildren. Services have been held.

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Written by jdunccc

April 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

Posted in The Boston Globe

Tagged with ,