A Chapel Hill man who died last week left a lasting legacy in the form of a book that was just published and in the lives of the children he touched here in Marshall County.
Eugene Pacetti, 75, died in Nashville on Dec. 23. He had visited the Tribune office earlier this month with a copy of the new book, "Heart, Laughter, and Sentiment - Poems and Short Stories for Your Every Day," which he wrote with his granddaughter. Judging from the book, Pacetti was the kind of person you would want for a friend, full of good humor, faith, and wisdom.
He was also known for his work with children.
"He had a really special way of getting through to kids," said his daughter Karen LaPlante. "There's so many kids he touched in just the short time he was here."
Pacetti worked as a substitute teacher for 11 years, and LaPlante said teachers asked for him by name, saying, "I want Mr. P. - my kids only pay attention to him." He had also been a teacher's assistant, worked with special education students at the high school, and coached for two years.
Even in his years of fulltime employment in New England, Pacetti found time to be a Boy Scout leader, and to coach basketball and baseball. A story in his book recounts how he helped his granddaughter, now an engineer, design and make a solar-powered model car that finished as runner-up in the regional contest.
Two of Pacetti's poems from the book were read at his funeral service, the one he wrote for his wife on their golden wedding anniversary, and another called "I'll Never Leave You," introduced by the words, " This is a poem from me to my family. I hope someone will read it after I've gone and remember how much I love every one of you. My love for all of you will shine down from heaven."
"If you knew my dad, you could hear him reading this poem," said LaPlante.
His granddaughter, and co-author, Jessica Robin Cooper, added, "If there is one way that I would describe him it would be that he had a big heart. He never knew a stranger. He was a very happy-go-lucky kinda guy. He loved to help people in any way that he could."
The golden anniversary poem ends,
"With friends like you we are truly blessed,
We thank you from our heart.
Our roots now planted here,
We hope to never part."
No, Mr. P., we are the ones who are truly blessed by having known you. Your wit and wisdom live on in the wonderful little book that family and friends will now cherish even more.