SOUTHINGTON - Funeral services will be held Tuesday for veteran former Board of Education member Zaya A. Oshana, who died last week at the age of 87.
Oshana was the third-longest-serving board member in town history, behind Walter A. Derynoski (39 years) and Urbin T. Kelley (43 years), both of whom have schools named after them. He was first elected in 1975 and regularly received among the top vote totals in municipal elections.
Credited as a vocal advocate for students, he often found himself in later years disagreeing with technology taking precedence over core classroom fundamentals, from developing learning skills to nurturing citizenship.
A graduate of what is now Central Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford, Oshana for 33 years was a teacher and, later, assistant principal at Lincoln Elementary School in New Britain. Following his retirement in 1992, he began a decade-long job as supervisor of student teachers at the University of New Haven.
While Oshana shied away from political combat during his years in public service, town Republicans cited his regular alliance with Democrats on the school board when deciding to dump him from the ticket in 1987.
Oshana subsequently registered as a Democrat, was endorsed by the party and went on to collect the most votes in the November election. It was a return to the political party with which he was affiliated when he and his family moved to Southington in 1965.
In 1992, Oshana was the Democratic candidate in a failed bid to defeat four-term Republican incumbent Angelo Fusco for his 81st District seat in the state General Assembly. Fusco won by more than 1,600 votes, though Oshana was credited at the time with running a clean campaign and acknowledging his respect for Fusco.
Declining health in recent years led to his retirement from the school board in 2009. His years of service were honored at a dinner in September hosted by the Southington Democratic Town Committee.
Among Oshana’s survivors are his wife, retired Southington High School teacher Angelica M. Oshana; a daughter, former SHS teacher Deborah Caloutas; and son and school board member Zaya G. Oshana.
Calling hours are today from 4 to 8 p.m. at DellaVecchia Funeral Home, 211 N. Main St., Southington. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 145 Main St., Southington.