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VALSANGIACOMO, ORESTE V. SR., 92
VALSANGIACOMO, ORESTE V. SR., 92, died peacefully with his family at his bedside on August 31, at Rowan Court Nursing Home in Barre. Val, as he was known to most, was born Oct. 31, 1919, in Barre, the son of the late Giulio and Giuseppina (Rabaioli) Valsangiacomo. He was a 1937 graduate of Spaulding High School. He was married to Helen Louise Emslie, of Barre, on Jan. 19, 1942, at Camp Blanding, Fla. Seventy years later to the date, with their family, they celebrated their anniversary at the Rowan Court Nursing Home. It would be the last time they partied together. Helen died Sunday, Aug. 26, five days before Val could again be with her. Val was raised in the North End, on Railroad Street. After witnessing the labor upheaval and strike in the early 1930s, he wanted to be part of the process and joined the Democratic Party at the age of 16 as a runner delivering messages between the various factions in the old neighborhoods. After many years of involvement with local issues, campaigning for others and raising money for the Democratic Party, he was elected to the VT House of Representatives in 1966, where he served 32 years - the last 16 as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. His devotion to Barre was perhaps best expressed in his longtime advocacy for property tax reform. He fervently believed that the quality of a child's education should not be dependent on a community's grand list. This deeply personal crusade ultimately reached the Vermont Supreme Court, which, in the Brigham decision, vindicated Val's argument. On July 3, 1940, Val enlisted in the VT National Guard, Company M, 172nd Infantry Battalion, located in the old Armory on Jefferson Street. In February 1941, his Guard unit was activated and sent to Camp Blanding. While at Camp Blanding, Val was a correspondent for the Barre Daily Times, keeping Barre informed about their sons' military training and experiences. Val was promoted to captain in 1942 and served as an infantry company commander until the end of the war. In November of 1944, he was seriously wounded in Germany. He returned to England, recovered from his wounds, then returned to action in the winter of 1945 and participated in the final assault against Germany, ending at the Elbe River. He returned to Barre, rejoined his Guard unit as battalion commander with companies in Orange and Washington counties, which was again activated in 1950, and was sent to Germany during the Korean War. Val returned once again and remained in the Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His business career in insurance eventually included real estate. He worked for the Joseph O. Frattini Insurance Agency then spent many years with Paige & Campbell Insurance Agency. He subsequently founded Kings Grant Real Estate and Insurance, which he managed until his retirement. He, along with Ernest Bisson and the Bisson family, started a development, building new homes on West Hill in the 1960s. Val and Helen's first son, Oreste Jr., "Rusty," was born in May 1945, while Val was still on active duty in Europe. Their second son, Jon, was born in June of 1951. Jon suffered from a congenital heart defect and was not expected to survive his first year. Val spent most of Jon's first year in Germany and was allowed one emergency medical leave home. Val's goal from the beginning of Jon's life was to keep him alive until medical technology could catch up to him. He and Jon had a special relationship with humor and love as their bond. Throughout his life Val was active in many civic and charitable affairs to include committees to assist those with physical and mental challenges. He was a charter member and first president of the VT National Guard Association and a member of the 43rd Infantry Division and 84th Infantry Division Associations. He was a member and past commander of the VFW, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. He was a longtime justice of the peace and a member of the Board of Civil Authority and Board of Adjustment. He was a member of the Mutuo Soccorso Club, Barre Fish and Game Club, Rotary Club and Elks. He was an active member of St. Monica parish and served on committees including the original Marian Men's Club, which oversaw the building of Marian High School in 1956, and was on a committee which fought hard but unsuccessfully to convince the diocese to keep Marian High School open in 1972. In 1995, he and Helen were on a committee which assisted in building the current Barre City Elementary School. He was very active in many real estate organizations serving as past president of the Central VT Board of Realtors and was Realtor of the Year in 1967. He was a member and past chairman of Barre City's Democratic Committee, Washington County Democratic Committee and a member of the State Democratic Committee. He was also a delegate to the 1964 Democratic convention. His last few years he was a resident at Rowan Court Nursing Home. His caregivers were wonderful to him and many shed a tear when he died. Val was predeceased by his wife, Helen, his parents, his brother, Alfred, and beloved son Jon. He was survived by his son Oreste Jr. and wife, Peggy; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. He was also survived by several nieces and a sister-in-law, Aline Emslie.
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