WILLIAMSTOWN -- Former Police Chief Joseph J. Zoito Jr. is being remembered by town officials as someone who cared deeply about the community.
Zoito, 88, of Lanesborough, died Sept. 2 at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. He served as police chief of Williamstown for 26 years, from 1963-89.
Former Town Manager Steven Ledoux said Monday that Zoito cared a lot about the community and took his job very seriously.
"Joe certainly was the face of the police department in Williamstown. He was very good about keeping me up to date about what was going on," he said.
He also remembered Zoito as a strong advocate for the police department, and he was well-respected by police chiefs across the state.
"Joe went religiously to all the police chiefs association meetings," he said.
Zoito, a native of North Adams, was a lifetime member of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and served as president of the association from 1971-72. He was also a lifetime member of the New England Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In addition, he served on the board of directors of the Western Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
"Chief Zoito was a highly respected member of our association. He was very active during his tenure as police chief and still remained active even upon his retirement," Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of
Town Manager Peter Fohlin said that while Zoito retired a little more than 10 years before he arrived, Zoito was a continual presence at Town Hall until recently.
"He often dropped by to share his view, even after he stopped driving and was dependent upon a walker. His history stories were always entertaining and informative," he said.
He particularly enjoyed the tale Zoito told about the stop light that used to be near Field Park at the intersection of North and Main streets, he said. The stop light was there until a DeSoto knocked it down, Fohlin said. DeSoto was a division of the Chrysler Corp. from 1928 to 1961.
Zoito joined the Williamstown Police Department in 1954 as a special officer. In 1956, he became a full-time police officer. He was sworn in as police chief in April 1963 after serving as acting chief since January of that year. His appointment followed the resignation of former Police Chief John D. Courtney Jr., who was elected Berkshire County sheriff. Zoito retired May 31, 1989, after turning 65.
A funeral Mass for Zoito will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at Sts. Patrick and Raphael Parish in Williamstown. Burial will follow at Eastlawn Cemetery. Calling hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at Flynn and Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals, West Chapels, 521 West Main St., North Adams.
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