Former Pittsfield Mayor Remo Del Gallo dies at 94
PITTSFIELD — Former Pittsfield Mayor Remo Del Gallo, who chaired the city's Democratic Party Committee for almost half a century and who ran a restaurant that served as a popular watering hole and political hangout for even longer, died Tuesday, according to family members. He was 94.
Del Gallo, who had been living at Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center in Lenox, had battled congestive heart failure for many years, according to his son-in-law, Albert Ingegni III, vice president of housing services for Berkshire Healthcare Systems, which owns Kimball Farms.
Del Gallo, the first Italian-American to be elected mayor of Pittsfield, served in the corner office from 1965 through 1968, when the city was much bigger than it is today. Del Gallo, first elected to the City Council in 1962, also served on several city boards and commissions after his term as mayor, including a long stint as chairman of the city's Board of Community Development.
Del Gallo's Restaurant on Newell Street, which closed in 2018, was one of the first city establishments to receive a liquor license after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It served as a neighborhood hangout and a must-stop for visiting Democratic Party politicians from all over the state whenever they visited Pittsfield. Black-and-white photographs of former U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and former Boston Mayor Kevin White still were hanging on the walls when Del Gallo's closed two years ago.
"Every top Democratic figure who was running for office for the last 60 years, and maybe longer, the first stop they made was Del Gallo's," said state Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, who had known Del Gallo for over 40 years. "Every congressman, governor, lieutenant governor, that's where you started. ... John Kennedy stopped there in the late 1950s.
"Forty eight years ago, when I ran for Democratic state committee, the first guy I went to see, and they brought me to see him, was Ray Del Gallo," Barrett said. "I didn't stop until he closed the place. I made sure I always visited him every time I went there."
"He was a towering figure in Pittsfield, that's for sure," U.S. Rep Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said in a telephone interview. "His restaurant was a must-stop. A real gentleman. I very much enjoyed his conversations with [late Pittsfield congressman] Silvio Conte, I can tell you that. It was one of those nice moments, because he was a Democrat and Silvio was a Republican, but he didn't let that get in the way of a lifelong friendship.
"He had a very good ear for what was happening on the ground in politics," Neal continued, referring to Del Gallo. "Whenever I spoke to him — and I spoke to him frequently when I first came to the Berkshires — it was always keen advice."
Current Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer remembered Del Gallo as a mentor and a friend.
"First of all, I want to extend my very sincere condolences to his family," Tyer said. "Mayor Del Gallo was a beloved member of this community. Those of us who sought political office often met with him to share his knowledge and his humor.
"I think he'll be remembered for his wisdom, his humor and his generosity," she said. "For me in particular, he was somebody I trusted and relied on who gave me great advice, whether I was running for office or serving in my capacity as city clerk or on the City Council. He was just a really, really lovely gentleman."
Former Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto said Del Gallo "was a friend to everyone. What I think what Ray will be remembered for is his generous spirit, and the energy that he invested in improving the city of Pittsfield."
Ingegni spent 40 years traveling with his father-in-law to conventions and political functions all over the state.
"I had the opportunity to hear his stories," Ingegni said. "He was an historian of the city of Pittsfield. He knew everyone and knew who the characters were."
Del Gallo's kindness stood out in the often rough-and-tumble world of state and local politics. Former lieutenant governor and state Attorney General Frank Bellotti once referred to Del Gallo as "the last of the good guys," Ingegni said.
"He truly cared about the people that he served," Ingegni said. "He was a compassionate man, and he always tried to help people."
Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-281-2755.
This story has been amended to correct Albert Ingegni III's title.
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