Richard F. “Doc” Parnigoni BARRE — Richard F. “Doc” Parnigoni passed away peacefully on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in the home that he and his wife, Joanie, shared for 54 years. He was surrounded by his family and his memories. The remarkable life of Richard F. Parnigoni began as “Dickie Parnigoni” living at 7 Humbert St. in the Barre North End. His grandfather, Frank, built the house and the two generations lived there for the first 14 years of his life. Two brothers, David and Ronnie, were to come along during this time. In the Summer of ‘47, his father, Ego, bought the house at 85 Washington St. while he and his mother, Agatha, and his brothers were in Maine visiting their cousins. Needless to say, his mother was surprised to come home and find she was moving. It was good for “Dickie” though because it was a short walk to the old Spaulding High School. The Parnigonis liked to go to camp in the summer, finally buying a camp on Shadow Lake in Glover. They enjoyed wonderful summers there. The summer of ’48, from the back of his father’s truck on Maple Avenue, Dick saw for the first time the girl he would someday marry. It only took him two years to get up the nerve. In his senior year, luck provided him an opportunity when he was assigned to a study hall with the lovely Joan Starr. Joan and he started passing notes and so it began. They dated through senior year and graduation in 1951. The summer was filled with dance dates. Their mutual love of dancing would continue throughout their entire marriage. When the fall of ’51 came, they were both headed to college. Dick was going to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Joan would attend the Vermont Junior College in Montpelier. Joan had lost her mother at a very young age and she and her brother, Bernie, had been raised by their grandmother. She was elderly now, so Joan did not want to go away to school. The couple had decided to part ways because of the distance. They would have no contact through the first semester. Over Christmas break, Dick would see a glimpse of her, riding with her friends in a car near the Aldrich Public Library. He realized how much he missed her but felt that there was nothing to do except return to UNH to prepare for his upcoming semester finals. But the book was not closed, and one day, out of the blue, a letter arrived. Joan had missed him, too, and the rest is history – their history. Dick enjoyed his time at the University of New Hampshire. He discovered his love of music and became involved in the New Hampshire Concert Choir. He would continue to love to sing and play the piano. He played the organ beautifully, just like his mother. He would use this talent when he joined the Barre Rotary in 1960 becoming the song leader for some 50 years. He would continue to love these things until the end of his life. The Spring of ‘55 was graduation time. He had decided to become an optometrist. He entered the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) with a full four-year scholarship. Joan agreed to become his wife. They married on Aug. 20, 1955, in St. Monica’s Church. They had a morning and evening wedding reception at the Hotel Barre. After the wedding, they moved to Philadelphia where he began optometry school. They also started their family with a daughter, Starr Ann; another daughter, Erin Louise, would follow quickly. Their two sons, Richard Jr. and Robert Ego, would be born before five years had passed. Dick graduated from PCO in June of ‘59 as the president of the Honor Society. The couple had decided to move back to Barre and Dick would begin his practice on South Main Street in Barre. He would have three locations in the 53 years of his practice. The last location was the house next to Quality Market. He would practice there for 34 years. Shortly after moving back to Barre to establish his practice, his father and a friend sponsored him as a member of the Elks Club. That was ‘59 and he was an Elk in good standing to the day of his death on Dec. 27, 2020. Being a member of the Elks gave “Doc” a valuable purpose for his life. Service to others was one of his core values. He thought community involvement was very important. He held numerous positions in the Elks, including district deputy. In 1988, he was elected secretary of the Barre Lodge and held that position until 2014. “Doc” was proud of many things that were accomplished during his time as secretary. The Lodge Memorial Tablets were gathered and placed on the balcony wall, creating the Memorial area of the lodge. These unique granite tablets carry 20-21 names, each of the departed members of the Lodge. Richard F. Parnigoni will now be placed on one of the tablets. In 1988, “Doc” heard of a Memorial Christmas Tree in the Valley. The Lodge purchased a blue spruce, planted it in the Barre City park, ran power to the tree and started selling lights to the public. The first Memorial Sunday in December, the tree was dedicated and the names of all the departed loved ones were read. All the money that was donated was given to the Barre Elks Scholarship program. This project continues to this day. Another important project for “Doc” was the Rotary Breakfast. After years of holding a breakfast each summer at different locations in Barre, he made an agreement with Ernie Drown, the librarian at the Aldrich Public Library (at that time) to use the library lawn as a location to hold the annual event. With the help of so many dedicated Rotarians and volunteers, and by using the Elks Club as back up, they were able to create a community affair that people looked forward to on the last Saturday in July. Bob Pope was instrumental in getting community businesses involved and “Doc’s” brother, Ron, managed the grills and the faithful Rotarians who were cooking and cleaning. They were able to feed 1,300-1,500 people in a short three-hour period – not to mention give them a community experience that compared to no other. Over the years, a lot of money was raised for the library. In 1983, they gave the library a donation of $365. By 2014, under the leadership of his brother, Ron, and with Bob Pope’s salesmanship, the breakfast had generated over $10,000 for the library! Optometric professional associations also provided a way for Dick to serve others. He was the president of the Vermont Optometric Association, president of the New England Council of Optometrists, president of the Vermont Vision Service Corp., and Vermont state representative to the Vision Service Plan for 22 years. This assignment would afford Dick and Joan the opportunity to travel all over the United States. He was appointed by the governor to the State Board of Examiners from 1975-1985, serving as the chairman for his last three years. In 1999, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Award from the Vermont Optometric Association. This award is now named in his honor. “Doc” was appointed to the Barre Cemetery Commission in 1989 and was an active member until his death. He considered the cemeteries to be a treasure to the city of Barre. With all this, Dick and Joan had an enviable, loving marriage. Their marriage lasted almost 60 years with Joan’s death in 2015. Dick was a good father who liked to give his children advice, usually written in letter form on a legal pad. He enjoyed his nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. The couple had a lot of wonderful friends with whom they had great times. In addition to his children, he is survived by his brother, David and wife Rosemary; his brother, Ron and wife Mary Anne; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his two favorite sons-in-law, Kevin and Mario. It is the hope of his children that this obituary will do some justice to their dad’s many accomplishments and the value of his life. He would say he had a great life. His children will miss him but are glad that he is with Joan and his son, Robert, and a host of other people who will be happy to see him. A public celebration of his life is not possible at this time. Contributions can be made in memory of “Doc’s” lifetime of volunteerism to the Barre Elks Lodge, Attention: Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 245, Barre, VT 05641. Arrangements are by Hooker Whitcomb Funeral Home, 7 Academy St., Barre. For a memorial guestbook, please visit www.hookerwhitcomb.com.

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