Frank Louis Passaro, a dedicated husband, father, mentor, business owner, student of history and lively conversationalist, died Sept. 15, 2013, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 82.
Around the table after dinner, Frank could be counted on to say something to provoke a lively discussion—about politics, history or anything else that was on his mind. It was one of his favorite things to do, and during the course of the conversation he rarely let anyone get away with a lazily reasoned thought—and so, made everyone else the better for it.
He was born Sept. 6, 1931, in Paterson, N.J., to Pauline and Frank Passaro—and, as he told us from time to time, survived “every childhood disease known to man.” He attended Admiral Farragut Academy (college preparatory school) in Pine Beach, N.J. Frank served in the U.S. Army Reserves, honorably discharged. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Vermont and then another in pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York City. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.
At the University of Vermont, he met via blind date Jean Nuss, his future wife of 56 years and eventual business partner. He introduced Jean to skiing and they spent many days out on the slopes together. They married June 8, 1957, and settled in Wyckoff, N.J. He worked first in his family’s business, Wyckoff Pharmacy, and later opened the first of three businesses he would own and run in his life—Ringwood Pharmacy, in Ringwood, N.J.
Frank and Jean had three boys and the family loved motor-homing, whether summer or winter, from Chesapeake Bay to Nova Scotia. The Winnebago served as a ski-in, ski-out condo at any New England ski resort. Stowe and Killington were his favorites, but they traveled the two-hour journey to Hunter Mountain, N.Y., most often. Frank loved his New Jersey backyard garden full of Swiss chard, tomatoes, beans, squash and cucumbers. He took great pride in landscaping his properties and created gardens at each of his homes and businesses over the years. There was always a project in progress.
After a couple of family ski vacations to Utah in the 1970s, he became intrigued by the West. An avid motor-home owner and traveler, he and Jean found a KOA campground for sale in Ketchum, Idaho, and in 1976, like modern-day pioneers, they packed up the family in a U-Haul and a Chevrolet Impala and drove across the country to Idaho to begin his second business adventure. He rarely wore a tie ever again, only to earn a little folding money as a fill-in pharmacist at Chateau Drug in Ketchum, and the Impala was soon traded in for a pickup truck with a plow. The kind of person who liked being solely in charge of his own failures and successes, he eventually shed the KOA franchise and renamed the business Sun Valley Camping Resort.
They sold the campground in 1984 and moved to Hailey. After a few months of retirement that didn’t quite suit him, he began his third business, as he and Jean opened The Cottage Gifts in Ketchum. Because it didn’t offer quite the challenge he was looking for, they acquired Wright’s Flowers and learned the florist trade, renaming the business The Cottage Flowers and Gifts. They ran the shop for 14 years, finally retiring for good in 1998.
During his career, he served as president of the Idaho Campground Owners Association and president of the Idaho State Florist Association.
He and Jean moved to Boise in 2003, and spent many years traveling—to Turkey, China, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and a months-long motor-home journey around the United States, stopping at as many historical locations as possible. Traveling and continuing to educate himself on various cultures and history was his passion. A voracious reader, he devoured books like he devoured a big plate of pasta or maybe three, if no one else was going to finish it up.
He loved Dixieland jazz, history, hiking, skiing and lively dinner-table discussions with his family and grandchildren. Above all, he believed in dedication, hard work and perseverance.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, and by a son, Thomas. He is survived by his wife, Jean, of Boise; sons David (Karen) of Coeur d’Alene and Robert (Jamie) of Eugene, Ore.; four grandchildren (Jennifer, Jeffrey, Olive and Vivienne); sister Nancy Whittaker of Merced, Calif.; and brother Richard of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
A graveside service will be held at the Ketchum Cemetery on Jazz Festival weekend.
His family would like to thank the caring staffs of XL Hospice and Emerson House, the memory care facility where Frank lived for the past couple of years. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Friends of XL Hospice, 8903 West Landmark Court, Boise, ID 83704.
You may also leave a condolence, share memories and light a candle at www.woodriverchapel.com.