WILMINGTON, MA — Arnold F. Lanni, 91, of Southbridge, MA, formerly of Wilmington, MA and Vermont, fondly known as “Al” to his family and friends, passed away peacefully at home on January 30, 2019.
Al was the beloved husband of Laurie Towne Slobody of Southbridge and the late Mary (Boylen) Lanni of Wilmington. He was the devoted father of Marion Lanni of Shrewsbury and Jeanne Lanni and her husband Richard Vinton of Southborough, MA, and the late Michael, Arnold F. Jr. “Al” and Mark Lanni; loving “Grampy” of David John Gagnon III, Lanni Jeanne Gagnon and Olivia Leahy Vinton; cherished son of the late Domenic Lanni; and dear brother of Fred Rusha of Hudson, FL and John Rusha of Auburn, ME. He was the beloved brother-in-law of Jeanne (Boylen) & Benedict Crupi of Reading, Mary and the late George Boylen of Wilmington, Daniel and the late Janet Boylen of Lunenburg, the late Barbara (Boylen) and Jerry White of Wilmington, and Roger and Laurie Slobody of West Brookfield. Al is also survived by many others who adore him, including numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Al was born on March 17, 1927, in Everett, MA. As a young boy, Al, was raised and educated in Roxbury and West Roxbury. While living there, he had fond memories of belonging to the “Knot Hole Gang”, a group of young boys who paid 5 cents to get into the Boston Braves games.
When Al was in the sixth grade, he moved to Foxborough, MA. There, he continued his education, graduating from Foxborough High School with the Class of 1945. While in high school, he was very active. In addition to serving as Class President for three years, he was a drummer in the high school band and he played on the baseball, basketball and football teams. In his non school time, he played drums for a 27 piece community swing band.
After graduation, Al enlisted in the United States Coast Guard to serve his country during World War II. He was honorably discharged in May of 1946 and returned home to his family.
For the next several years, Al moved to Maryland to continue his education. He attended Severn Academy Prep School in Severna Park, MD and Hagerstown Junior College in Hagerstown, MD.
In 1951, Al entered the United States Navy to serve his country during the Korean War. He served aboard the USS Tarawa and at the US Naval Receiving Station in Brooklyn, NY. Following four years of active duty, Al was honorably discharged in 1954.
After leaving the Navy, Al went on to attend Boston University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree with honors. In 1964, he earned a Master’s Degree in Education from the State College at Boston.
Following college, Al began a long and rewarding career as a public school teacher and administrator, while always continuing his own education. In 1957, he began teaching American History at Topsfield High School. In 1959, transferred to Sudbury Public Schools to serve as Chairman of the Social Studies Department at Curtis Junior High School. While in Sudbury, he also served as Chairman of the Professional Standards Committee of the Sudbury Teachers Association and was elected President of the Board of Directors of the Lincoln-Sudbury Town Employees Federal Credit Union. In 1963, Al received the Silver Tray Award by the Sudbury Kiwanis Club for “The Teacher Who Has Done the Most for the Sudbury School System”.
Following his tenure in Sudbury, Al accepted a position at the Massachusetts Department of Education. As a Senior Supervisor, he traveled around the state providing public schools with training in curriculum development, program evaluation and teacher training. He was also responsible for evaluating federal programs. During these years, Al was called on to assist in producing several publications. He became a contributing author to the Curriculum Guide for the U.S.S. Massachusetts and to the Aerospace Curriculum Resource Guide published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
During his teaching years and his years spent at the Massachusetts Department of Education, Al was also an active contributor to his own community. He served as Chairman of the Wilmington School Committee, was a member of the Wilmington Conservation Committee, and an active member of the Wilmington Community Fund. As in his work life, Al spent his personal time trying to better the lives of others.
In 1970, Al accepted a position with the Arlington Public Schools. After serving as the district’s Director of Curriculum, he was promoted to Assistant Superintendent. In that position, he received many accolades for his expertise in administration, planning, curriculum, personnel and community relations. He developed a wonderful reputation for honesty, loyalty, expertise in education and his ability to speak his mind.
In 1984, Al brought his knowledge, planning abilities, and belief that all children can learn at high levels to Vermont. He accepted the position of Superintendent of Schools in Vergennes, VT and served Vergennes and the surrounding communities. While there, he also served as Regional Chairman for the Vermont Superintendents Association.
Following his Vermont tenure, he returned to Massachusetts to become Superintendent of Schools in 1989 in Southbridge, MA. During his years in Southbridge, he was instrumental in improving curriculum and was responsible for training teachers in Total Quality Management.
Al retired in June of 1993 from the Southbridge Public Schools, following a long and illustrious career. His dedication to students, faculty and the evolution of public education was unwavering. Throughout his work life, he put his heart and soul into everything he did, with the goal of making this world a better place for future generations.
Following retirement, and up to the time of his passing, Al continued to be an active contributor to the town of Southbridge. He was elected and served on the Town Council, the town’s Long-Range Planning Committee, the High School Scholarship Committee and the committee formed to raise funds for the public schools. He was chosen to represent Southbridge on the Central MA Planning Commission and served in that role for many years. Until his passing, Al remained an active member of the Southbridge Rotary, as well as the Italian-American Club.
In addition to his commitment and service to the public education, country, and community, Al’s other “passions” included his family, gardening and sports. He will always be remembered for his devotion to his family…always there to lend a helping hand, give advice, and unconditional love. He was a man who totally enjoyed sports, especially golfing, skiing and bocci. He also loved his beloved Patriots and never missed a game. Fortunately for this year’s Super Bowl, he had the best seat of all…
Al was a gentleman in every way…truly a “gentle man”. He totally enjoyed life, was caring and giving of his time and talents to help others, and forever enriched the lives of everyone he met.
Family and friends are invited to gather a Mass of Christian Burial at Notre Dame Church, 446 Main St., Southbridge, MA on Friday, February 8th at 12:00 noon. Following Mass, all are invited to continue the celebration of Al’s life at the LaSalle Reception Center located next to the church. A private burial will be held on Monday, February 11th in Wilmington, MA. Family members are invited to meet on that day at Nichols Funeral Home, 187 Middlesex Ave., in Wilmington for a 12:00 noon service. Burial will follow at Wildwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Al’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701.
(NOTE: The above obituary is from Nichols Funeral Home.)
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