You may have known him as Mike, or Ray. By either name, he was a very unique and special man. Our Dad, Mike, passed away at home on June 18, 2014, after a valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His last days were in hospice care, which provided wonderful assistance while he was home. His passing was very peaceful and pain-free. He is now reunited through Christ with his beloved wife, Rita M. Parro. He was the loving father of Kathleen and Thomas and father-in-law to Janice Parro, dearly loved brother to Margaret M. Parro, and proud grandfather to Erin, Megan and Matthew Parro. In addition, Dad had many cousins on the Downs and Parro sides of his family tree, and a number of friends he was loyal to over the years. He also had two Granddogs, Finnegan and Bailey.
Mike was born Raymond Edward Parro, Jr., son of Raymond Edward Parro, Sr., and Margaret Mary Parro (nee Downs). He grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and was a member of St. Sabina’s parish, where he graduated from grammar school. He was also a graduate of Leo Catholic High School. After his graduation from Leo, he enlisted into the U.S. Navy in December of 1943, and served several months during the war on the USS Wolverine, a converted aircraft carrier used by the Navy on Lake Michigan, mainly for pilot training purposes for aircraft take-off/landings certifications prior to service in the Pacific Theater. He was then stationed outside of San Francisco until his discharge in 1946. He went on to become employed by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad in the early 50’s and worked for 37 years before retiring in the late 80’s. He also worked as a part-time security guard until he was 79 years old.
He and Rita loved to travel whenever they could. Some of their trips included Hawaii, two Caribbean cruises, Florida, California and many places on the East Coast. As a matter of fact, he and Mom met while traveling on a train trip out to California to see the USC/Notre Dame football game in 1955. Dad lived in Chicago and Mom was from York, PA. They didn’t know each other going into the trip, but had fun while on it and had a long distance romance after they returned home. They became engaged in February 1956 and were married in York in August of that same year. They would have been married 58 years this August 4th. Mom moved to Chicago after they married, and they lived in an apartment on the South Side for a few years before buying the house we grew up in out in Dolton, IL. They resided there until moving to Saddlebrook Farms in 1997.
Dad and Rita also loved parties and dancing, even though Dad was a left-foot only dancer. He’d mainly stand on the dance floor and twirl Mom around. When he did lead, it was in a circle with that left foot! Over the years, he liked to bowl, play pinochle and poker, and once in a while go to the race track and bet on the ponies. He always had more luck picking winners off of the daily race listings in the paper (and never betting on them) than picking them at the track, and placing a bet. More often than not, he would lose!
As many of you already know, Dad was a life-long follower of all sports, and a die-hard fan of his beloved Chicago White Sox, Green Bay Packers (we Bears fans in the family loved him anyway), the Bulls and Blackhawks, and of course, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. His love of sports has been passed on to Tom and Katie, and his grandchildren, who are all avid fans as well. Dad was lucky enough to be around for the White Sox win of the 1959 A.L. pennant, and the 2005 World Series, as well as attending Game 2 of the 2005 World Series for his 80th birthday. He also was witness to the Bulls winning six championships, three Chicago Blackhawk Stanley Cups, one Green Bay Packers Super Bowl, and numerous national championships by the Fighting Irish. He attended many games over the years at Old Comiskey Park (Sox & Chicago Cardinals), Wrigley Field (ONLY for the Bears/Packers game, never the Cubs!), the Old Chicago Stadium and the United Center for the Blackhawks and Bulls, and South Bend for an occasional ND football game. As a grandfather, he took great pride in attending the various baseball, soccer and basketball games his grandchildren were involved in. He was their biggest cheerleader!
Our send-off, or visitation for Mike, will be Sunday, June 22nd, 2014, from 4-8 pm at the Kristan Funeral Home, 219 W. Maple Ave. (Route 176), Mundelein, IL. Directions for the funeral home can be found on their website, www.kristanfuneralhome.com. There will be a Funeral Mass celebrating Mike’s life on Monday, June 23rd, 2014, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Fremont Center (www.stmaryfc.org) at 11 am. A brief military honors ceremony will take place immediately after mass at the church. Internment is private. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease research (www.michaeljfox.org).