ZACCHEO, Rosario L. "Al Zack"- Of Belmont, New Hampshire, formerly of Chelsea. Devoted husband of the late Mary P. "Pat" (Hanlon). Beloved father of Donna Salvitti and her husband Peter of Peabody and Michael Zaccheo and his wife Laurie Ann of Gilford, New Hampshire. Son of the late Alfred and Elizabeth (Saladino) Zaccheo. Half brother of Robert Dingwell. Cherished grandfather of Sean, Ryan and Caitlin Salvitti and Taylor Zaccheo. Also lovingly survived by many nieces and nephews. Family and friends are kindly invited to attend a Funeral Mass celebrated in Our Lady of Grace Church, 59 Nichols Street, Chelsea on Friday, March 11th at 10 o'clock. Visiting Hours in the Smith Funeral Home, 125 Washington Avenue, Chelsea on Thursday from 4-8 PM. Services will conclude with interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a memorial contribution in Al's name to any of the following charities or organizations, Toys for Tots, Dana Farber Cancer Institute or the Wounded Warrior Project. The addresses as well as links are listed below.
Below is a Tribute to Al appearing in the Chelsea Record and written by Cary Shuman
Tributes far and wide have been pouring in for Al Zaccheo, the former Chelsea High football star who returned from the U.S. Marine Corps and opened Al Zack’s, a sub shop that became a popular Chelsea landmark for generations.
Mr. Zaccheo passed away on Feb. 26. He was 84 years old.
Al and his father-in-law, former Chelsea Police Officer John Hanlon, opened Al Zack’s in the 1960s. For more than three decades into the 1990s, Al cooked and presided over the operations for the store located at the corner of Blossom Street and Washington Avenue.
It was a true family business with Al’s wife, Pat, Hanlon Zaccheo, and their two children, St. Rose High School 1979 graduate Donna Zaccheo, and Chelsea High School 1986 graduate Michael Zaccheo, all contributing to the store’s immense success through the years. And like the TV show, “Cheers”, everybody at Al Zack’s knew your name, especially the great gentleman at the grill running the business.
Al Zaccheo was known not only for his acumen as a restaurant owner, but his philanthropy. Al donated to many Chelsea causes, notably Chelsea sports teams and organizations.
“As great an athlete as he was, he was an even better person,” said Herbie Kupersmith, who attended Chelsea High during Al Zaccheo’s years as an unstoppable running back and tenacious linebacker for the Red Devils.
Michael Zaccheo worked alongside his father at Al Zack’s, a witness to his dad’s daily generosity and the congenial way in which he interacted with all customers.
“The best father you could ask for,” said Michael, who inherited his father’s incredible work ethic and gregarious personality. “His life was always about the store. It’s just the way it was, the work ethic he had and gave to us, and I thank him for that – and how charitable he was. We tried to continue that in the later years as well.”
Al later owned and operated Al’s Lakeside in Tilton, N.H. for 13 years before his retirement.
A personal connection to each customer
Michael Zaccheo was asked what made Al Zack’s the most popular store of its kind in Chelsea.
“I think it was the connection my father had with people,” said Michael. “The fact that when people went to Al Zack’s, they didn’t really feel like they were going into a business, they felt like they were going to see family. Al knew everybody’s name and never turned anyone away. If you were hungry and you didn’t have money, it didn’t matter. Al would feed you anyway. He was just that kind of guy.”
Michael recalled Al Zack’s $2 Special back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For two bucks, you got a submarine sandwich, a bag of chips, and a soda.
“I think he broke even for the most part,” said Michael. “Probably some days, he lost money.”
CHS students packed Al Zack’s during lunch period
Al Zaccheo was revered by Chelsea High students, who would make the short trek from the school to enjoy delicious subs and sandwiches at Al Zack’s during their lunch period.
Kimberly Kupczewski, a cheerleader from the CHS Class of 1978, lived at 17 Heard Street behind Al Zack’s. She was a regular visitor to the store, especially during her four years at Chelsea High.
“He was an icon to us children,” said Kupczewski. “Growing up in that alleyway behind the restaurant, living with the smell of the food coming from it, is like one of my fondest memories. He had the best steak and cheese sub on the planet and the clam plates were even better.”
Kupczewski admired his kindness and generosity. “Every day I was at Al Zack’s even when I was a little girl. We would always be in there. When I was in high school, he would have my onion rings already made and waiting for me, along with my steak and cheese. He knew my friends and I were coming. He was an amazing man.”
Kupczewski recalled that her next-door neighbor, June Haskell, was a high school classmate of Al’s. “And she worked for him at the store for a while.”
An inspiration to all
Scott Leonard fondly remembers the complimentary pre-game breakfasts that Al Zaccheo would host at his restaurant. Interestingly, Al Zaccheo was Scott’s running backs coach on Bobby Fee’s staff during his four years.
Leonard, who now owns and operates Rutland Marketplace in central Massachusetts, said Al Zaccheo was, “truly my inspiration.”
“A main reason for what I’ve done here with Rutland Marketplace, as far as taking care of the community, Al was my inspiration,” said Leonard. “The way Al would feed us, and take care of us and do it for every kid, and support every youth organization in town – he was always there for all of us, and always made us feel like we were part of his family, like we were one of his own kids.
“Not only was he a coach, he was a mentor, he was our friend, and taught me some great life lessons, especially take care of your friends, take care of your family, take care of your community, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”
Scott recalled how Al’s family was equally kind and welcoming to all members of the community and made each visit a special one.
“Al Zack’s was the gathering point for Chelsea youth,” said Scott. “Al created a sense of community there and a sense of family. He’s the rock of Chelsea, Mass.”
Al would often show up at Chelsea football practices with free subs. “We’d be at football camp or the Stadium, and Al would show up with subs. And he didn’t want anything in return. He was just there for us. He was just a gentleman and a true patriot, a true authentic and what Chelsea Pride is all about. You got Chubby Tiro and Al Zaccheo – if you want to know the definition of Chelsea Pride, you’ll see Al Zack’s name and picture right there.”
Saluting Al Zaccheo, the football star
Frank DePatto, the former Chelsea High director of athletics, was Al Zaccheo’s football teammate.
“Al graduated in 1956 and I graduated in 1957 and I was on the same team with Al,” recalled DePatto. “Al was a tremendous player and a great individual. He was so generous to Chelsea High athletics and hosted many pre-game breakfasts. His wife, Pat Hanlon, was my classmate.”
DePatto said Zaccheo was a major star on Chelsea High teams, playing alongside other noteworthy players, including quarterback Jimmy Walker, running backs, Anthony Tiro, John Kursonis, and Danny Ruskiewicz, defensive linemen Joe Kulpa, offensive ends Jim Mitchell, and Henry Perry, and center Robert “Duke” Bradley.
Zaccheo went on to excel for the U.S. Marine Corps traveling football team at Camp Lejeune and as a member of the Nu-Way Sweepers semi-professional team who played some of their home games in Chelsea. All-Scholastic and Indiana star end Bob Fee also played for the Nu-Way Sweepers.
DePatto told a witty story about playing his position behind Al Zaccheo, who was a linebacker on defense.
“In 1955, we were playing Newton High at Newton,” said DePatto. “I was a defensive back and Al Zack was a linebacker. That whole year, I didn’t make a tackle because Al was a linebacker and in front of Al was this big kid, Joe Kulpa. I always had a clean uniform. Al Zack said to me, ‘Frank, one day I’m going to miss one of these tackles, and I hope you’re there. We were undefeated that season going into the Thanksgiving game, but we lost to Everett and ended up being ranked second in the state.
“The biggest conversation we had back then was who was the better running back, Zaccheo or Tiro. But they were two different kinds of players – Chubby would run around you and Zaccheo would run over you,” related DePatto.
Thoughts from a friend
Charlie Sherman, president of the Chelsea High School Class of 1970, knew Al Zaccheo well in Chelsea and loved Al Zack’s array of subs and seafood dinners.
When Sherman moved north and became New Hampshire’s premier TV sportscaster, he and Al became close friends.
Sherman paid tribute to Al in a posting on Facebook.
“If you are from Chelsea, you no doubt recognize this man, The Great Al Zaccheo, or as we know him, Al Zack,” wrote Sherman. “Al was a Chelsea legend who helped out so many and supported virtually every organization in the City. He was also a mentor and a coach to many and he also gave an awful lot of kids their first job at his shop which was a local institution. Condolences to the Zaccheo family. May he Rest in Peace.”
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Wounded Warrior Project
7020 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville FL 32256
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
10 Brookline Place, W 6th floor, Brookline MA 02445
Toys for Tots
21 Drydock Avenue, Boston MA 02210