Mario A. Polizzotti, It is with deep sadness that the Polizzotti family announces the death of Mario A. Polizzotti, who passed away peacefully on January 6, 2021, at the age of 91. An award-winning architect, painter, and seaman, Mario was born in New York on April 7, 1929, the son of sculptor and Antioch College professor Giovanni Polizzotti and of dress designer Gaetana Drago.
His father, a native of Sicily, had emigrated with his family in 1925 to the United States, where he directed the Antioch College Art Foundry (at the time, he was among the few who could teach the “lost wax process” of casting bronze sculptures); he later cast many well-known statues, including Lee Lawrie’s Atlas at Rockefeller Center and Paul Manship’s Rainey Memorial Gates for the Bronx Zoo.
Mario, the last of six children, was the only member of his family to be born in America, prompting his parents to give him the middle name Amerigo. Despite growing up in a highly cultured milieu, surrounded by art and music, from an early age Mario dreamed of going to sea. At age 17, he enlisted in the US Navy, where he was trained as a meteorological technician and participated in Operation Sandstone, a secret atomic bomb test conducted in the Marshall Islands in 1948.
Following his service, he matriculated at SUNY Maritime, Fort Schuyler, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1954. Mario’s plans to spend his life at sea took a sudden detour when he met the elementary school teacher Grace Mary Sacchetti, who happened to have one of Mario’s nieces in her class. They were married in June 1956, and remained happily so for the next 64 years. The couple had three children: writer, publisher, and translator Mark Polizzotti (b. 1957); archeologist and museum director Gloria Polizzotti Greis (b. 1959); and human resources director Lynn Polizzotti Clark (b. 1960).
In his rich and varied life, Mario held a number of professions, including sea-going Merchant Marine officer, general average adjuster, and, most notably, distinguished architect. His turn to architecture was inspired largely by his participation in the design of a new family home in Larchmont, New York, as well as by his artistic upbringing. Having decided that architecture was his calling, Mario moved his family to Gainesville, Florida, where he earned both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Architecture at the University of Florida in 1966, after a mere three years.
Relocating to New England, Mario practiced architecture for the next four decades, mostly at the helm of his own firm, MAP East Architects, first in New Canaan, Conn., then in Cotuit, Mass. His work includes many high-end residential and commercial structures, several of which have won prominent design awards.
Professional associations of which he was a member included the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the New York Academy of Science. An accomplished painter, he also took home a number of First Prizes and Best in Show awards for his landscapes and portraits. Mario was a man of deep moral, civic, and patriotic convictions, serving as Commissioner of the New Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission from 1985-1990, and as a venue architect for the Connecticut Special Olympics. In 1991, his belief in his country led him to suspend his architectural practice and rejoin the Merchant Marine, participating in Operation Desert Storm on supply missions for the 82nd Airborne Division in Saudi Arabia. In this as in every endeavor, he set high standards, with meticulous attention to detail and an appreciation for work well done. Enormously proud of his family over several generations, he told his alumni magazine that he was “happy to know that the commitment to excellence, instilled in me by the most caring faculty, was successfully and painlessly absorbed by my own children, who have achieved their own form of excellence and success.”
He was also gifted with sparkling humor, generosity, and warmth, and many outside his immediate family – whether spouses, friends, or colleagues – considered him a second father and a beloved presence in their lives. Mario is survived by his wife, Grace, his three children, and his five grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all of them. The family will hold a private burial. Donations in Marios honor can be made to the Special Olympics at support.specialolympics.org, or to South Shore Hospital at southshorehealth.org/give.