Patrick Walter Visgilio

Patrick Walter Visgilio, 88, died peacefully on the evening of Sept. 25, 2008, at The Westerly Hospital. He was born on April 20, 1920 to the late Tomaso and Rosaria (Pirri) Visgilio, and leaves his loving wife of 42 years, Gail (Thelin) Visgilio, his son Patrick and wife Yogini, his son Van Visciglia and wife "Becky" and her son Kyle, and one grandchild, Amara Gail Visgilio.

Born in Westerly, Pat was extremely proud of his Italian heritage and his town. He often told stories about growing up in the North End, vividly describing the lives of the Italian immigrants and their families.

He received a BA degree from Emerson College in speech, drama and social studies, a MA degree in sociology from Wayne State University and did additional graduate work at Boston University, where he studied Russian and Asian history.

Pat was also a graduate of the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts and attended classes with Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall. Hume Croyn was one of his drama instructors. He was in many shows plays and revues.

As a member of the USO troop shortly after World War II, he entertained the soldiers in Guam, the Phillipines and Japan. While in Tokyo, he attended the trial of the Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo.

He began his teaching career at Fitch Jr. High in Groton and then taught at Westerly High School, where he also was Sports Director. In 1957, he began his 30year career with the Department of Defense Dependant Schools (DODDS) teaching on American bases in Libya, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Italy and Japan. During those years, he coached soccer, organized speech contests, directed plays and sponsored debate teams. He piloted a "Law in Society" course in Japan and conducted teacher workshops throughout the American schools in the Far East. He received two Outstanding Teacher Awards for his innovative teaching performance in the classroom.

While living in Germany, Pat met his wife who also was a DODDS teacher. They married in Basel, Switzerland. Their oldest son was born in Italy and the youngest son was born in Germany. The family traveled extensively and had many interesting adventures.

On one trip to the Middle East shortly after the 1967 Seven Day War, Pat was getting a haircut in a Tel Aviv hotel when the Prime Minister of Isreal Abba Eban and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan entered the barbershop and waited patiently for Pat to finish so they could get haircuts. In Ankara, Turkey, he unwittingly got caught up in a revolution and coup taking place in the streets. He took refuge at the American Embassy. While on a photo safari to the African Games Parks, a rhinoceros charged the land rover almost toppling over Pat, his pregnant wife and young son. In Bulgaria, a caravan of gypsies tried to abscond with the family Volkswagen.

After retiring from overseas teaching, Pat was content to have coffee with his friends and ushers from St. Clare's Church, read The Sun and watch the Boston Red Sox, Notre Dame and the New England Patriots. Pat was a longtime employee at Rushlow-Iacoi Funeral Home, and was well liked and respected by all of the associates.

Besides his wife and sons, he leaves a sister, Ida "Rusty" Travers, his nephew and lifelong friend, Dr. Thomas Salimeno and many other nephews and nieces. Four sisters, Alfonsine Salimeno, Finny Visgilio, Adelaide Patton and Virginia Wasserman and five brothers, Joseph, Anthony, Frank, George and Dr. Thomas Visgilio predeceased him.

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. at St. Clare's Church, 62 Crandall Avenue, Misquamicut. There will be no procession from the funeral home. Burial will take place at St. Sebastian Cemetery, Westerly. Calling hours will take place on Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Rushlow-Iacoi Funeral Home, 64 Friendship Street, Westerly.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice Care of Rhode Island, South County Office, 143 Main Street, Wakefield, R.I. 02879, or St. Jude's Children's Hospital, R.I. Chapter, 900 Reservoir Avenue, Cranston, R.I. 02910.

Pat's gentleness, kindness and sense of humor will be greatly missed by his wife and family.

Published in The Westerly Sun on September 28, 2008

In Memoriam