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Obituary: Charles Joseph “Chip” Fanelli

Published on on January 15, 2017

Charles Joseph “Chip” Fanelli It is with heartbreak and pride that Chip Fanelli’s family announces his passing on January 15, 2017 while in loving care at the Stanley Tippett Home in Needham, MA, and surrounded by his family. Chip was born in Chicago, IL on May 3, 1955, and lovingly adopted by Joseph and Kathryn Fanelli and was raised in Rochester, MN and Reno, NV. Chip met his wife of 31 years, Cory (Balian) while studying photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. They were married in Pasadena and moved to the Boston area in 1985. They have two sons, Charlie and Colin. Chip loved people. He had the gift of gab and took the time to get to know people, be it teachers, parents of friends, or even strangers. He slowed things down and took his time when speaking with people, often with a razor sharp wit. A voracious reader and gifted with a impeccable memory Chip had a natural ability to simultaneously talk about anything and nothing with people of all ages. Chip loved Cory and the boys deeply, was animated and funny, and took great pleasure from the small moments in life – dinner at the family table, late night talks in the living room, a little league baseball game (although he would never call any game a small moment). He was kind, tender and fiercely loyal – a true Bostonian. Chip’s passion, second to his family, was always photography. Rarely seen without a camera around his neck he sought to capture the world through the lens of his camera. His passion and skill for this art, his endless curiosity and deep love of people, allowed him to say that he never worked a day in his life. As a professional photographer, Chip’s natural charm and positive energy allowed him an uncanny ability to get his subjects to relax, and bring their personality and spirit to life with his camera. Whether shooting for weddings, advertisements and annual reports, or simply a family photo, Chip’s humor, down-to-earth attitude, and creativity brought out the best in his subjects. Chip lived his life selflessly and always brought a smile and joy to all those around him, even in the late stages of his illness. Chip’ continued to impress those around him while battling ALS for close to 4 years, never appearing resentful, but treating this part of his journey as he always did: with humor, joy, and an unflappable, resounding love. As one of his dear friends wrote, Chip taught me that, “Life is not what you have, but who you have.” Chip was preceded by his mother and father, Kathryn and Joseph Fanelli.

Chip is survived by his wife of 31 years, Cory, his sons Charles Willis Fanelli and Colin Jacob Fanelli, siblings Joseph and Yixin Fanelli of Reno, NV, Paula Jo and John Crandall of Reno, NV and Mary Jo Fanelli Caraway of Pasco, WA, Cory’s mother, Margaret Balian of Needham, siblings John Balian of Los Angeles, Tracy and Dave Zendzian of Needham, as well as nieces and nephews: Cassidy, Robby, Jack, Lucy, Katie, Lauren, Alison, Megan, Ben, and Tanner. Not to mention hundreds of loving and dedicated friends. Cory, Charlie and Colin are deeply grateful for the love and tireless support from the many friends, family members, and healthcare professionals who have been by our side throughout Chip’s battle with ALS. We have lost our best friend. However, due to their kindness and compassion, Chip was able to maintain his dignity and spark throughout the duration of this illness.

The Fanelli family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the staff at the Stanley R. Tippett Hospice House for the loving care that Chip received during the five months he resided there. Their endless positivity, enlightened outlook, and exceptional care ensured that we continued to create positive and loving memories throughout his final days. A memorial service will be held to celebrate Chip’s life at the Congregational Church of Needham, 1154 Great Plain Ave, Needham, on Saturday,January 21 at 2:00 PM.