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Emilio Daddario, former Connecticut congressman, 91

Born in Newton Center, Emilio Daddario played semipro football to help pay for law school. Born in Newton Center, Emilio Daddario played semipro football to help pay for law school. (Michael Lein/New York Times/File 1970)
Globe Staff And Wire Reports / July 8, 2010

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HARTFORD — Emilio Daddario, who served 12 years in Congress and two years as mayor of Middletown, has died. He was 91.

Mr. Daddario, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1970, died early yesterday in Washington, D.C., from heart failure.

News of his death was released by the New York Police Department, where one of Mr. Daddario’s three sons, Richard, will begin serving as deputy commissioner for counterterrorism next month.

“He was a world-class athlete, served in two wars,’’ Richard said in a statement issued by the NYPD.

Born in Newton Center, Mass., Mr. Daddario graduated in 1934 from Tilton High School in New Hampshire, said his son Stephen of Washington, D.C. Mr. Daddario received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1939 from Wesleyan University. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1942 and started a law practice.

To pay for law school, he played semipro football for the Blues.

He played half a game on his wedding day in 1940, to pay for his honeymoon, Stephen said.

He also played semipro baseball, his son said.

“He was old-school,’’ Stephen said.

“Great father, great person, and he will be missed by all. He was a fighter. He worked hard and never complained.’’

Mr. Daddario enlisted in the Army and served overseas in the Mediterranean theater. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and Italian Medaglia d’Argento for his service.

After the war, he was elected mayor of Middletown at age 28 and served from 1946 to 1948. He was appointed judge of the Middletown Municipal Court and served from 1948 to 1950, when he was called into active military service again, this time as a member of the Connecticut National Guard.

He served in the Far East Liaison Group in Korea and Japan.

Mr. Daddario defeated a one-term incumbent, Edwin H. May Jr., in 1958 to win Connecticut’s First Congressional District seat. Mr. Daddario held the seat from 1959 to 1971, when he did not seek reelection.

Mr. Daddario was married 67 years to Berenice (Carbo), who died in 2007.

Besides his sons Richard and Stephen, he leaves another son, Anthony of Philadelphia ; a sister, Laura Guiffrida of Sturbridge, and seven grand- children. Arrangements are pending.