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Obituary: Stephen J. Cicco, 66

Jan 17, 2019 05:42AM ● By Theresa Gilman

Stephen J. Cicco

BOSTON – Stephen J. Cicco of Chelmsford, a longtime photographer and teacher, died of complications from pneumonia at Tufts Medical Center while surrounded by his family on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. He was 66.

Stephen was born to parents, Albert and Teresa (Orlandella) Cicco in Chelsea on April 27, 1952. He grew up in Chelmsford and graduated in 1970 from Chelmsford High School, where he ran track and was a standout actor in the school’s Drama Club. 

Stephen graduated from Bowdoin College in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in German. On campus, he was a proud member of the Delta Sigma fraternity, known for its progressive views and as the first house to admit women. During his college years, he spent his summers working in York Beach, Maine, with his twin brothers, Peter and Paul. As part of the beach’s music scene, they performed as the Cicco Brothers Band, with Stephen on bass, Peter on lead guitar and vocals and Paul on drums. 

After college, Stephen moved to Boston, eventually settling in the city’s Roslindale neighborhood. After graduating from New England School of Photography, he joined the school’s faculty in 1979 and taught there for more than 30 years, inspiring younger generations of artists. In 1982, he went to work at his parents’ advertising agency, Graficon Communications in Chelmsford, as the company’s vice president. After his parents retired and closed Graficon in 1990, he launched Stephen Cicco Photography in Charlestown and also taught at Lasell College in Newton.

Beyond his love of teaching, Stephen was best known for his fashion and commercial photography. In the mid-1990s, he served as president of the Fashion Association of Boston (FAB), a networking organization for industry professionals. Along with runway shows, he shot countless fashion and advertising spreads for his clients. His work was exhibited and appeared in an array of media outlets, including Vogue, Paris Match, Time and Business Week magazines.

In 2011, Stephen was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia and received a blood stem-cell transplant to cure the disease. While the procedure was successful and he was free of cancer the rest of his life, a host of medical complications ensued and he remained in the hospital for 11 months. Once in recovery, he returned home to Chelmsford in 2012 but continued to receive treatment monthly at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

His experience as a patient profoundly changed him. He spent what he called his “bonus years” in retirement, caring for his aging father, reconnecting with old friends, enjoying Boston’s sports teams and pursuing his interests in cooking, politics, history and writing. As president of the Delta Sigma Corporation, he wrote a history of the fraternity and awarded fellowships from the group to Bowdoin art and music students to support their career goals. Three years ago, he learned he had relatives in Italy who were unknown to the family in the U.S. to that point. Meeting and vacationing with them were among his greatest joys. At the time of his death, he was studying Italian and writing a memoir of his experience as a leukemia patient. 

Stephen is survived by his brother, Peter and his partner Karen Frederick of Dracut, along with Karen’s sons Matthew, Gregory, Daniel and Brian, and their spouses and children; his brother, Paul and his wife Deborah Del Mastro of Martinez, Calif., and Deborah’s children, Jack and Sarah; his sister Nancy Cicco of Chelmsford; niece Tiana Cicco of Lagunitas, Calif.; nephew Gianni Cicco and his fiancée Cristina De Melo Wirkala of Seattle; and extended family in the U.S. and Italy and lifelong friends.

Family and friends will gather to celebrate the life of Stephen J. Cicco on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Blake Chelmsford Funeral Home, 24 Worthen St., Chelmsford. 

A private memorial for the family will follow at a later date. 

The Cicco family extends its gratitude for Stephen’s exceptional care to the medical and support staffs of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, and Brigham and Women’s, CHA Cambridge and Lowell General hospitals. Expressions of sympathy may be made in his memory to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at dana-farber.org or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284-9168.
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