Town of Southeast’s Lois Zutell, Former Supervisor, Dies at 84



Lois Catherine Zutell, of Brewster, NY, passed away on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 84 years old.

Born on July 23, 1935 in Bronx, NY, daughter of the late Louis Vincent and Catherine (Hamill) Zuanelli, Lois graduated from St. Barnabas High School, Bronx, NY.

On September 8, 1956, she married the love of her life, Harry William Zutell, at St. Philip and James Church, Bronx, NY. Harry predeceased his wife of 62 years on May 7, 2019.

Mrs. Zutell was the first and, to date, only female supervisor of the Town of Southeast, serving from 1996-2003. Previously, she served on the Town Council for ten years and on the Planning Board, Southeast Recreation Commission and Putnam County Land Trust. She was the recipient of numerous community service awards from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Honor Corps, Brewster Chamber of Commerce, Village of Brewster (Medal of Honor), Putnam County Supervisors Association, Kiwanis, Brewster Elks Lodge, and the VFW (Americanism Award), among others.

An active member of St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish, Lois was a lector for thirty years, served on the parish council and school board, and was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America. She co-founded the St. Lawrence O’Toole School kindergarten, nursery school and Mother’s Guild. She was a charter member of the Southeast Museum and a Friend of the Southeast Library. She was honored at the St. Lawrence O’Toole Parish 21st Annual Golf Outing for her service to the parish and community.

Lois loved people and never stopped making new friends throughout the 61 years that she resided in Brewster. She greatly enjoyed gatherings with the “St. Barnabas Babes” – a small group of her high school friends who meet regularly – and the Mother’s Guild ladies, with whom she formed many lifelong friendships. She was an avid Jeopardy watcher, crossword puzzle solver and reader who loved tracing her family roots and studying genealogy. Above all, Lois was a proud grandmother and great-grandmother who cherished her family and time spent with them.

Lois is survived by three daughters: Kathryn Anne Prokop (Michael) of Florham Park, NJ, Carolyn Audrey Lowe (Frank) of Brewster, NY and Laura Jean Handville (David) of North Eastham, MA. She is also survived by eleven grandsons: Andrew (Quinn), Alexander, and Eric Prokop; Zachary, Jacob, Joshua, and Samuel Lowe; Liam, Aidan, Kieran and Daniel Handville; and a great-granddaughter, Ava Prokop. She was predeceased by her brother, Carl Zuanelli, of Wilton, CT. She is also survived by many, many dear friends and relatives who treasured her positive outlook and zest for life.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, February 8, at 11am at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church, Brewster. Friends and family may call at Beecher Funeral Home, 1 Putnam Avenue, Brewster on Friday, February 7 from 3pm to 7pm.

Southeast civic leaders recalled her initiative and leadership: Southeast’s current Supervisor Tony Hay recalled Zutell as a “positively wonderful, classy woman. She was our first lady. She always acted and presented herself in a highly professional manner. Lois was a queen.” Southeast Town Clerk Michelle Stancati agreed: “Lois was an inspiration and an overall great lady who will be missed.”

Stancati served with Zutell as members of the local Kiwanis Club.

Christina Grant, a long time family friend remembered how Zutell accomplished much in her lifetime: “What I will remember most about Lois was her passion– passion for her family, for her friends and for the tasks she undertook and the respect she earned from even those who disagreed with her on a political spectrum. My parents and Lois were good friends. I remember my father saying at the dinner table one evening, ‘If Lois has anything to do with it, rest assured it will be done and done right.’ That spoke volumes. When my parents died four months apart, Lois spoke to me of their friendship, sharing stories. As she spoke you could look into her eyes and see how much she cared for them, as she cared for everyone.”

She continued, “While the history books of the Town of Southeast will list her as the first woman supervisor, to those who knew her either personally or professionally, will agree that she was quite a lady who left her mark on the Town of Southeast and those who loved and respected her.”

–Eric Gross contributed to this report.

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