An Obituary: Charles ‘Duke’ Stefanelli, Jr.

January 15, 2024

Charles J. Stefanelli, Jr., 95, passed away peacefully on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Emerson Hospital in Concord. While Charles was his name, he was widely and endearingly known as “Duke.”

Born on Sept. 2, 1928, he was the son of the late Charles J. Stefanelli, Sr. of Formia, Italy, and Matilda “Tillie” (Venti) Stefanelli of Concord, MA.

After attending Concord High School and Tilton Academy where he starred in both basketball and baseball, Duke embarked on three years of service in the US Navy aboard the USS Whitley.

Upon completing his service, he began working at the family store. It was called Bedford Fruit Market, but was more appropriately known to many Bedford residents as simply “Stefanelli’s”. He took over the family store and worked there for 31 years before selling it to family friend Sherman Primmerman.

Duke then worked the last 15 years of his career at Bedford’s Center and Lane schools, and spent his semi-retirement doing part time work for Saint Michael Parish in Bedford.

He was the beloved husband of the late Barbara (MacDonald) Stefanelli, his wife of 58 years. Duke and Barbara were longstanding residents of Bedford where Duke served as the unofficial mayor of their Selfridge Road home. Duke was the consummate family man, a pillar of his Bedford community, and an avid Boston sports fan.

Charles “Duke” Stefanelli, Jr.

The hallmarks of Duke’s life were his love for people, his infectious positive outlook on life, and his ability to make everyone feel like the most important person in the room. He lived his life in service of others.

He was the loving father of his three sons; Charles J. Stefanelli III and his wife Diane of Windham, NH, David A. Stefanelli and his wife Patty of Hampstead, NH, and John F. Stefanelli of Bedford, Duke was grandfather of five grandsons; Charles J Stefanelli IV of Boston, Michael J. Stefanelli of Windham, NH, Nicholas D. Stefanelli of Methuen, Andrew C. Stefanelli and his wife Bonnie of Boston, and the late Jeffrey V. Stefanelli.

Visiting hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17. Funeral from Shawsheen Funeral Home, 281 The Great Road in Bedford. The funeral will be at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18 at the Shawsheen Funeral Home, followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Michael Parish, 90 Concord Rd., Bedford at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Bernard’s Cemetery, Concord. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association via their website, phone (800-272-3900), or by mail to 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601.

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