Andrew Zoito Jr., holding a photo of his father, Andrew Zoito Sr., which was taken circa 1943, at Zoito’s home in North Adams.
Andrew Zoito Jr., holding a photo of his father, Andrew Zoito Sr., which was taken circa 1943, at Zoito’s home in North Adams. (Scott Stafford / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

NORTH ADAMS -- As a master stone mason, Andrew Paul Zoito Sr. was there in 1955 when the original Clark Art Institute was under
construction.

According to his son, Andrew Paul Zoito Jr., the elder Zoito worked on installing the marble steps to what was then the main entrance to the new museum. The elder Zoito came back a few times for other work the museum needed.

He passed away at 73 years old in 1993.

So when Zoito Jr. got a letter from the Clark recently seeking local donors to help with the cost of the $145 million, 10-year expansion project, he was intrigued because of his father's history at the museum.

"I'd been to the Clark two or three times and I enjoyed it very much," Zoito said. "So when I got this flier, I wondered what they were up to over there."

Curious, he headed over to Williamstown to check it out.

"When I saw it I said, ‘Wow. These people are putting themselves into the 22nd century with exceptional thinking needed to meet that challenge.' "

So Zoito, with his father in mind, wanted to continue his family legacy of being a part of the Clark's growth.

He wrote a check for $1,000 on the spot and donated it to the construction effort.

Zoito Jr. worked with his dad for a while as an apprentice. After getting out of school, he ended up as a tool and dye maker, worked for Sprague, GE and Stanley Works in Bennington. He also substitute taught at Hoosac Valley for a while.

Today, at 71, Zoito Jr. is looking to expand on his knowledge and appreciation of art. He likes the classics better than the contemporary, he admits. But when he comes upon a work of art that doesn't appeal to him, never a negative work does he utter. He leaves it for the next person to appreciate the piece.

Zoito Jr. hopes for the best at the Clark, and says he is quite optimistic about their future. And he's glad he and his dad could play a part in it. As a result of his gift, the Zoito name will adorn the donor list which will be mounted in the new visitor center.

"My dad worked all his life -- did everything he could," Zoito Jr. said. "For all the hard work he did for me, I thought it would be nice to do something to honor his work."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford