Joseph John Dinielli of Bristol, Conn., died Feb. 9 at home with his wife by his side. He was 88 and the beloved husband of Mae (Harrington) Dinielli.

Born in New York city on April 8, 1927, he was a son of the late Nicholas and Maria (LoMonte) Dinielli, who immigrated to New York from Andria, Italy, in the province of Bari.

Joe grew up on Arthur avenue in the Bronx before enlisting in the Navy at age 17 to serve in World War II. He later moved to Bristol, Conn. He also lived in Farmington, Conn., Martha’s Vineyard, and East Hartford before returning to Bristol.

Joe enjoyed his 10 years on the Vineyard as a resident of Edgartown and the owner of The Down Under Cafe. While on the Vineyard, he was the Martha’s Vineyard Airport business park manager and worked for the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank. He also owned the former Koffee Korner in Bristol and had a variety of professional accomplishments, including serving as a Bristol city councilman and police commissioner and, most notably, serving as a Democratic senator in the upper house of the Connecticut General Assembly, the state legislature for the state of Connecticut, for 12 years.

While in the senate, Joe held a number of positions, including serving as chairman of the Senate Banks Commission, and was on the executive committee of the National Commission on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. He held many leadership roles outside the senate as well, such as treasurer of the Property and Casualty Insurance Council, and worked as a leading lobbyist in the state following his retirement from the senate.

He will be remembered for his love of flying, which he took up at the age of 50; his command of numerous Italian operas by memory, which he could sing with the slightest encouragement (and, often, without) and for the many friends he made over the years; and his baking and cooking skills, which he put to good use in opening a successful restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. He won numerous baking awards for his desserts, which were featured in the most exclusive restaurant on the Vineyard.

He is survived by his loving wife of 41 years, and his children Jay, Gino, and Donna Dinielli, all of Florida; brothers Gene and Michael Dinielli of California; grandson Jayson Dinielli of Connecticut; great-granddaughter Elizabeth Dinielli, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his stepson Brian Hinchcliffe, and his sisters Rena Vinci and Joan Moore.

Memorial donations may be made to the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, 255 West St., Bristol, CT 06010.