Hon. Antoinette's Obituary
Judge Antoinette L. Dupont, known to friends and family as Billie, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, September 2 at her home in Bloomfield, Connecticut. She is survived by her two brothers, Vincent Loiacono of Mystic and Anthony Loiacono of Centreville, Maryland; her children, Ellen Dupont of London, Antonia van der Meer of New York City, and William Dupont of San Antonio, Texas; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her second husband, Judge Albert J. Cretella Jr.
Born in New York City, the first child of Albert J. and Helen Utano Loiacono, Billie moved to New London as a baby. Billie and her parents lived near many of her extended family members including her grandparents Vincenzo and Antonina Loiacono. Her life was enriched by the arrival of her brother Vincent and later Anthony and they enjoyed a closeness that lasted to the end of her life. As a teenager, she worked in her father’s pharmacy on Broad Street, often at the soda fountain. After graduating from Williams Memorial Institute in 1946, Billie followed in the footsteps of her uncle Dr. Anthony Loiacono and aunt Lorraine Loiacono and went to Brown University, graduating in 1950. She majored in political science.
Learning that Harvard Law School had opened its doors to women, Billie set her sights high and applied there. She was accepted and in 1954, she graduated as part of the second class of women to attend Harvard Law School. Billie was one of just a dozen women among about 700 men. She maintained strong ties to the other women in her Harvard class and they often met at reunions.
Getting a job was not easy for a woman lawyer in those days. Many firms would not hire women, but Billie was not discouraged. She began her legal career as co-counsel for “President Eisenhower’s Commission on the Application of Federal Law to the Virgin Islands.” In 1955, she gave birth to her daughter Ellen and the family moved to New York City where Billie combined motherhood with working on Wall Street. Soon, however, she moved back to New London and went into private practice. She worked at Suisman, Shapiro and Wool before setting up her own firm. The births of Antonia and William followed.
Billie combined work and motherhood, famously working on files from her hospital bed after giving birth to Bill. But no matter how hard she worked, Billie always had time for her children, her family, and her many friends. She loved entertaining and gave wonderful parties.
A lifelong Democrat, Billie served on the New London School Board for a term. Her election night parties were lively non-partisan gatherings. She was a good friend of former New London mayor Ruby Morris and acted as her campaign manager.
Governor Ella Grasso appointed her to the bench in 1977 (Connecticut Superior Court). Only six years later Governor Thomas O'Neil elevated her to the Appellate Court. She served as Chief Judge from 1984 until taking senior status in 1997. As a judge, first in the Superior Court and then in the Appellate Court, Billie found her true calling. Her love of the law, her passion for legal research, and her flair for administration made her a brilliant judge. After stepping down as Chief Judge, she became a Judge Trial Referee and continued to hear cases until her late 80s, only fully retiring in 2016. Her sense of fairness and her ability to foster a collegial atmosphere endeared her to everyone at the court.
Billie once said that her favorite words were “I agree,” but she was not afraid to disagree where she thought the legal reasoning was wrong. Billie’s was the quietest voice in the room and yet her words always spoke loudest.
Her marriage to Judge Albert J. Cretella in 1990 brought her many years of happiness. The couple lived in North Haven, CT, enjoying legal work, European travel, winter vacations in Florida, golf, and their grandchildren. Al even persuaded her to join the bowling team at the Q Club in New Haven where Billie’s unique style of duckpin bowling yielded a surprising number of strikes. A year after Al’s death in 2009, Billie moved to Duncaster, a retirement community in Bloomfield, Ct, which was just a short drive from the Appellate Court in Hartford.
Billie was not just a trailblazer and role model but a lifelong advocate of women’s rights. She was a member of Zonta and the League of Women Voters. As one of the chairmen of the Task Force on Gender Bias in the Connecticut Courts, she did ground-breaking work to make the courts fairer to women.
There will be a private family funeral. No flowers please. Donations, if desired, may be made to the League of Women Voters or the ACLU.