Put a microphone in T.J. Zappulla’s hand and the veteran Litchfield County real estate agent could carry a meeting with aplomb — backed not only with knowledge of the industry but with a sense of humor and a winning, whiskered smile.
“He was at ease in front of people,” David A. Luzi, president of the Litchfield County Board of Realtors, said. “I don’t know how we are going to replace him.”
Zappulla, 60, was killed Friday in New Hampshire when the motorcycle he was driving was struck when an on-coming car crossed the center line. Zappulla, a longtime motorcycle enthusiast, was in New Hampshire for the annual “Laconia Motorcycle Week,” according to published reports.
The third-generation of a family of real estate professionals going back to 1923, Thomas J. Zappulla had 37 years of experience as a full-time agent. He was an agent with Coldwell Banker Realty 2000 and had served three terms as president of the Litchfield County Board of Realtors.
Zappulla was perhaps best known for working on legislation both locally and in Hartford that affected the industry and the rights of property owners.
“He would keep an eye on legislation before the General Assembly and bring that back to the membership,” Luzi said. “He was a staunch defender of private property rights.”
In addition to industry groups, Zappulla also was active in the United Way, Northwest AIDS project, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Torrington Affordable Housing.
Luzi said Zappulla took the responsibilities to his clients — both residential and commercial – seriously, but he wasn’t difficult to deal with.
“I would hope that all realtors could conduct themselves like T.J. did, with a commitment to clients but an easy-going nature,” Luzi said. “He was a role model. He was a mentor to me.”
What do you remember most about T.J. Zappulla?
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