WALLINGFORD — The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to rename Yalesville School in memory of former state Rep. Mary Fritz.
Fritz, who died July 9 at the age of 78, was a 32-year Democratic legislator representing Wallingford. She taught at Yalesville School before her political career.
The name change will take effect for the 2017 school year.
Before voting, many council members expressed their reverence for Fritz, both for her commitment to serving her constituency as a representative of the 90th House District and for her dedication to education while serving as a teacher and the president of the Parent Teacher Association at the Yalesville School.
“For me, it’s exciting to rename the school because she was such a fixture in Wallingford and Yalesville,” Councilor John LeTourneau said. “Everybody’s got a Mary story. She was just a unique person and she put her heart into her work.”
“I take the naming of public facilities very seriously because you can get carried away,” Councilor Vincent Testa said. “But this is someone who truly warrants this type of honor.”
The idea for the honor began when Fritz’s husband, William, approached council members and requested the name change, which has also received overwhelming support from the Board of Education.
Many members of Fritz’s family were in attendance for the vote and expressed gratitude for the council’s support.
“She never liked to get honored, but I think she would be truly honored by this,” Fritz’s grandson, Jack McDonnell, 13, said while fighting back tears.
Betty Torre, a longtime friend of Fritz, said the most important consequence from the honor will be Fritz’s continued legacy as an inspiration for young girls in Yalesville.
LeTourneau added that the the school’s name will serve as a reminder of her impact for years to come.
“I don’t look at it for the now, I look at it for the future,”LeTourneau said. “Fifty years from now, kids are going to ask, “Who is Mary Fritz?” And those teachers at Yalesville School will be able to explain to their children who Mary Fritz was and the difference she made.”
Among the town councilors voting in favor of the change was Craig Fishbein, a former student at Yalesville School. Fishbein, a Republican, is running for the 90th District seat in November against Democratic school board member Pat Reynolds.
“I think it’s very fitting that we were able to name my former school after her and, I was very proud to make the motion to change the name,’ he said.
The only public opposition for the change came from two letters the council received from Yalesville residents Eugene Gazda and Ray Rys Sr.
Both Gazda and Rys agreed that Fritz was deserving of a lasting honor, but expressed concern that stripping Yalesville from the school’s name would diminish the village’s identity and singularity.
The cost of the change hasn’t been determined, but will be funded by the town, council Chairman Vincent Cervoni said. Fritz’s family had previously offered to pay for any resulting costs, an offer the council declined.
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