Clara Stella Tropeano Arpaia Memorial Fund

Est. 2012 by Lisa F. Arpaia, Esq.

Clara Stella Tropeano Arpaia. Photo courtesy of Lisa Arpaia.

Growing up poor, Clara Stella Tropeano Arpaia saw education as a path to improve her life.

The second youngest of six children, Clara was raised by a single mom who had only a 6th grade education and worked in a sewing factory to provide for her family. She grew up in poverty, and lived in tenement housing and stood in line for food. She was born at home on October 13, 1931 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and lived in the Boston area until her family moved to New Haven when she was about 10 years old, settling in Fair Haven and later moving to the Hill when her mom remarried in 1947.

As a young girl, she was a parishioner of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Wooster Square, where she learned that the Sisters of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus would be starting a Catholic high school for girls and that a scholarship exam would be given. Clara took it upon herself to take the exam, unbeknownst to her family, and was granted a scholarship, becoming a member of the inaugural class of Sacred Heart Academy and graduating in 1950.

She was married in her early 20's to Frederick Arpaia and raised three children, first in the Hill and then in Fair Haven Heights. She cared for her family while working full-time in various office positions, later retiring from the US Postal Service in 2001. Growing up in poverty, she made education a priority for her children, making sacrifices to send them to Catholic school, all three of whom went on to obtain degrees of higher education: Robert Arpaia, an artist; Gina Reiners, a psychiatric nurse practitioner; and Lisa Arpaia, an attorney, who established the fund in her mother's name. In the late 1970's, with great determination, Clara went back to school while working full-time and obtained a BS in Economics in 1981 and an MS in Economics in 1987, both from Southern Connecticut State University; and a 6th year in Education in 1989 from the University of Bridgeport.

Clara was a spiritual woman who was raised Catholic, but later became a Buddhist in the 1980's following her divorce. She also then became a practitioner of Qigong, a form of moving meditation, incorporating holistic health into her life. She enjoyed arts and crafts, and her passion was cooking and baking where she blended old world cuisine with modern day concepts of nutrition. Clara enjoyed the small town life in Monroe, Connecticut, where she moved following her retirement from the US Postal Service, after having lived in the suburbs outside of New Haven. She passed peacefully on May 28, 2009. Clara was way ahead of her time - a true feminist - so it is only fitting that her legacy should benefit the Community Fund for Women & Girls.

Like the Arpaia family, you or someone you know can create a lasting legacy through a permanent endowment that benefits the community for generations. To learn more, please contact Sharon Cappetta or 203-777-7071.

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Clara Stella Tropeano Arpaia Memorial Fund