Community Mourns Local Legend John
WETHERSFIELD - Deena Saccente says that when her late grandfather, the beloved John “Pops” Saccente passed away, the family played Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” in his honor.

       “That was truly how my grandfather lived his life-doing it his way,” Deena said over the phone Saturday.

       She spoke to The Rare Reminder just over a week after Saccente’s September 15 passing, and the day after her wedding.

       “To me, the most important thing was that my grandfather wasn’t suffering,” Deena said. “And he had a front row seat-whether physically or from Heaven.”

       She said that in his final days “he was surrounded by love”-friends and family members who stopped in to say their last goodbyes. And in the days that followed, it seemed as if the entire Wethersfield community was still paying its respects to the World War II veteran and recently retired Wethersfield High School security director.

       Saccente was just turning 91.

       “He was just tired,” Deena said. “Old age hit him really quick.”

       And it was no wonder, as “Pops” had lived “so many lives” in one-going from his WWII service to a 42 year career with the Arrow Hart Company, and then as an employee of the Newington Police Department-according to Deena.

       But during Pops’ final retirement party-held at the Wethersfield Country Club several months ago-he said that it was his time at Wethersfield High School that sits atop his long list of memories.

       “I think that’s where he touched the most lives,” Deena said.

       Principal Tom Moore said after Saccente’s retirement that he had had a knack for reaching all students-but particularly those that could use a little extra guidance.

       “Pop was probably the most down to earth person-real,” Deena said. “Like, didn’t talk down to them, and kids appreciate that. He talked to them like they were getting advice from their own grandfather.”

       Deena would know-she attended WHS for a few of the years of Saccente’s tenure.

       “At first I was extremely jealous of seeing everyone else call him Pop,” she said. “Then I realized how lucky I was to be able to share him with so many people. He was able to do for so many young people what he did for me.”

       For Deena, the list Saccente’s many tidbits of wisdom seems endless, but one lesson in particular stood out to her, and it’s probably one that Saccente often put into practice himself.

       “Sometimes, to be a good person, you have to say things people don’t want to hear,” Deena said. “But always do it with love.”

       Her advice for those looking to keep Pops’ memory alive?

       “I would tell people to live their lives a little more like him,” she said. “I think the world would be a little better if we all did that.”