Anne N. Bates

Albert Richard Sparaco, Jr.
March 7, 1945 – October 26, 2004

Rich and I met during the winter of 2001 at a support group for Single, Divorced and Widowed Roman Catholics (SDRC) at a Catholic church in my hometown.  It was fate that brought us together.  I am not Catholic and Rich, who lived 25 miles away in another town, was not a joiner.  I ran across a woman I had known 25 years previously who convinced me to go.  She never went to another meeting.  I was never sure what brought Rich there.  He lost his wife early in January 2000.  I separated and divorced my husband the same year.

At first we traveled as a group going to singles dances and other events.  No pressure and we had fun.  At one of those events, the DJ suggested we talk about our high school years.  Rich and I discovered we had graduated from the same small high school – only 10 years apart.  From there we learned of mutual friends, but had never met.  One thing led to another and by the end of July we were a couple.

Rich was a family man.  Family was most important in his life.  He looked after his father, his mother-in-law and his father-in-law.  He adored his three sons, their wives and his two grandsons.  Rich cooked Sunday dinner every Sunday for the entire family.  There were often 15 – 20 people at the long dinning room table.  Soon, I became part of the family gatherings.  Today I am considered “grandma” to those two boys.

Three years later we became engaged and planned a wonderful wedding with my two granddaughters, his grandsons, and our children as attendants.  But it was not to be.  Rich passed away without warning on October 26, 2004.

Rich taught me to see life and enjoy nature.  We traveled to places I never imagined seeing and enjoying.  He treated me better than anyone had ever treated me.  He was a gentleman, a man of his word, and a wonderful person.  I will miss him all the days of my life.

Submitted by Karen Mills, Fiancée of Rich Sparaco
Newburgh, NY