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« Back Post Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2016
John Cuccio Sr: 1920-2016
John Cuccio Sr., a mainstay of the Lightning fleet in the 70s and 80s, passed away this fall.


John D. Cuccio died this fall at his home of 58 years in Westport, one month shy of his 96th birthday.  Born in 1920 in New York City to Helen and Joseph Cuccio, he spent his youth in both NYC and Palermo, Sicily, the bases of operation of his family’s exporting business in lemons and oranges. John eventually attend Columbia University and The Pratt Institute, studying to become an Industrial Designer. 

He began an illustrious career under the tutelage of Raymond Loewy.  John was Loewy's protege, designing many products, logos and most notably the automobile brand Studebaker.  It would be at Loewy where he would meet and be smitten by the lovely southern charm of his future wife, Gladys Lantz.  

Soon after, John and Gladys married and started a family in South Bend, Indiana.  He began a new chapter in his life after being hired by the Ford Motor Company and appointed Chief of Styling at Ford’s prestigious Mercury division.

John and Gladys with their now new family of three moved in 1958 to Westport, where he started his own Industrial Design firm, John Cuccio Design.  For the next 40 years, John and his colleagues went on to design a long list of familiar products we know today such as Sikorsky Helicopters, Budd Company, Amtrak Trains and Gilbarco Exxon Filling Pumps. 

John’s passionate love and emotional enthusiasm for Ferrari automobiles became his trademark.  It was a common sight to see his bright red Ferrari always parked in the corner at his office in 1 Bridge Square.  He also had a love for sailing and became highly involved at the Cedar Point Yacht Club.  As three-time fleet champion, he would become the mainstay of the Lightning class there, tirelessly recruiting and growing its membership.

John was pre-deceased by his loving wife Gladys.  He is survived by his daughters Ann Cuccio Ward of Fairfield, Nina Cuccio Peck of Old Lyme, and son John Lantz Cuccio of Southport, along with his nine beautiful grandchildren.  Per John’s wishes, there were no funeral or memorial services.  His unprecedented modesty, generosity and love for his family will live on and never be forgotten.