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Dick Pasco: Service matters the most


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Editor’s note: With the primary Election Day five weeks away, Mayor Brad DeReamer and chal-lenger Dick Pasco have kicked off their campaigns for mayor of Greenfield and shared their plat-forms in community forums.

Friends and family of the two Re-publicans vying for the GOP nomi-nation for mayor – DeReamer is the incumbent – say it’s their personali-ties that will make them strong leaders for the future of Greenfield.

There are similarities between the two. Both are in their 60s, have backgrounds in business and enjoy family life with supportive wives and grown children. Both have gleams in their eyes when bragging about their grandchildren. But their leadership styles differ, and these profiles shed light on their person-alities and their drive to serve as mayor.

 

By Maribeth Vaughn

mvaughn@greenfieldreporter.com

GREENFIELD – It’s not unusual for Greenfield natives to want to spread their wings, Dick Pasco said.

“Everyone that grows up in Greenfield in the 1960s, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get out of that burg,’” said the 63-year-old Republican candidate for mayor.

But after a few years away for college and a stint in the Navy, circumstances led one of those formerly restless young people, Pasco, back to his hometown. He says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It just hits you – ‘that’s a pretty neat community,’” he said.

 

Friends and family say Pasco’s business and community involvement over the years have developed his leadership skills to those of a great collaborator. Having served on the Greenfield City Council five terms and now on the Hancock County Council, the former funeral home director has had the opportunity to build relationships and partnerships.

And after surviving colon and liver cancer, Pasco says he is grateful for life, family and the opportunity to continue to serve the community.

Pasco recalls his Greenfield childhood fondly.

“You probably couldn’t find three happier kids growing up in Greenfield,” he said, referring to his brother, Dave Pasco, and sister, Salli Williams.

After graduating in 1966 from Greenfield High School, he attended Vincennes and Ball State universities one year each, before commuting to the Indiana College of Mortuary Science for two years.

Pasco then joined the Navy and was leading petty officer in charge of a torpedo room on a submarine. Pasco considered making that a career, recalling clear nights in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when the crew would shut off the engines and listen to the sounds of nature.

But after four years in the Navy, circumstances led him back to Greenfield. He responded to an emergency call after his mother had a cranial aneurysm. He decided to take an early discharge.

“I just resolved myself that all things happen for a reason, and this was it,” he said.

Pasco became a fourth-generation funeral director, alongside his brother. For 34 years, he assisted families in their grief at Pasco Memorial Mortuary.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction. You really help people in a tough time,” he said. “I still have people thank me.”

Pasco said business ethics and honesty are traits he picked up as a funeral director – qualities he says have shone through as a politician as well.

Pasco served five terms on the city council, starting in 1984. He took off one term to be district governor for Kiwanis International. He said one of the most joyful times of his life came when he presented a $187,000 check on behalf of Kiwanis to Riley Hospital for Children.

“This is the closest I have for a hobby – to be involved with stuff,” he said.

Twelve years ago, Pasco was told he had eight months to live. Faced with colon and liver cancer, he decided to go to a research hospital in Ohio for further analysis.

“(The doctor) said, ‘I think I can get you 10 years,’” Pasco said. “I think I’m his recordholder. Every day I get up, I break the record for him.”

Pasco went through two major surgeries and recovery for a year while his brother ran the family business.

“We celebrate the date I was cancer-free,” he said, referring to his wife, Joanie, and three children. “We just call each other and say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you’re still here.’”

The Pascos have been married 32 years and enjoy visiting their two grandchildren in Ohio. He said he is especially grateful for life because he has more time to spend with his grandsons.

“I know every grandparent thinks their grandkids are special, but mine really are,” Pasco said.

He also beams when introducing his English bulldog, Butch.

Pasco sold his business eight years ago. Still recovering from cancer and with his brother wanting to retire, he said it seemed like the right time.

He now sells cars for Dellen Automotive, though he is on a leave of absence to campaign. Besides being involved with the community, he enjoys tinkering with cars.

Campaigning is a little different this time around compared with four years ago, when Pasco faced DeReamer in the GOP primary. Looking back, Pasco admits he campaigned poorly for that race – which he lost by seven votes after a recount – so now he is getting guidance from state Sen. Beverly Gard and is doing more fundraising.

He plans to put out hundreds of signs as well as go door-to-door to meet constituents.

“The weather just hasn’t been very cooperative up to this point,” he said.

Gard, who once served on the city council with Pasco, said he is a capable person for the job because he has a good style of working with people.

“No unit of government is going to be able to do it alone,” she said, citing partnerships that need to happen with county government and economic development officials. “The city can’t just operate as an island.”

Jim Shelby serves on the county council with Pasco and has worked with him in the past in joint county-city committees.

“He is honest. You can trust his word,” Shelby said. “He is hard-working. He participates in commit-tees that work a lot outside of the council meetings.”

Shelby also cited energy and humor as traits Pasco brings to public service. Pasco hit the ground running when he joined the county council in 2009, Shelby said, because of his background with city government and knowing how budgets work.

Joanie Pasco said she wasn’t surprised when her husband told her he wanted to run for mayor again. He has always been interested in politics, she said.

They are constantly running into friends and neighbors who know him from community and business involvement, she said. She supports his run for mayor but said she probably wouldn’t get too hands-on as a first lady.

“It’s OK with me because that’s what Dick wants. If I’m first lady because Dick is mayor, that’s fine,” she said.

She believes her husband can boost the morale of city employees, as well as let them do their jobs by not being a micromanager. It’s ingrained in his personality to work with people by just talking with them, she said.

“He listens to what other people say and gets their opinions and really considers them, and then tells them how he feels,” she said.

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