To have known Darrell Paccagnella was to love him. A friendly sort, he made friends easily and could readily strike up a conversation with anyone. He made life interesting for those who knew and loved him with his antics and soft hearted ways. Deeply missed, Darrell will be remembered for his unwavering faith and service to his Lord with whom he loved with all his heart.
The year 1963 was an unforgettable, eventful year in our nation’s history. From fashion to politics, America’s once conservative nature was turning in new directions while new electronics made life easier and enjoyable. Beloved President John F. Kennedy’s assassination affected the hearts of all while mounting troubles in Vietnam continued to escalate. Beatlemania took music charts by storm, and history was made when Dr. Martin Luther King gave his, “I Have a Dream” speech. For Neil and Patricia “Penny” (Bruneau) Paccagnella, an unforgettable event took place in their lives on August 18, 1963 at Trinity Memorial Hospital in their hometown of Cudahy, Wisconsin. It was on this very special day when they welcomed twin sons into their hearts. Darrell John Paccagnella was born a mere three minutes before his twin brother, Dean on this most happy occasion.
Darrell’s father worked as a heat treat operator for the Ladish Company while his mother later went to work as a cashier and in customer service for Kohl’s Department Store. The oldest of three children, Darrell later welcomed his younger sister, Kellie, born in 1970. He experienced an enjoyable childhood and received unconditional love and nurturing from his family. He began kindergarten at Lincoln School in Cudahy before attending Cooper Elementary School in Milwaukee. There were many things that captured his interest, and along with his studies, kept Darrell busy as a young boy.
While growing up, Darrell came to have a soft spot for animals, and never found a stray he didn’t like. He loved animals, and once he found a stray, it usually ended up in their yard or house. He especially loved his cocker spaniel, Mollie, Bosco, a hound, and Mutzie. Darrell’s compassion for animals was unwavering. One time, while digging for worms to go fishing, he stopped to retrieve a bandage from the house. Thinking Darrell cut his finger, his father’s heart was touched by the fact that Darrell needed the bandage to put a severed worm back together again.
In the Spring of 1972, Darrell and his family moved to Caledonia. Due to his special needs, he attended Olympia Brown School in Racine, and later, Gilmore School. Fond of model trains, he joined the Railroad Club in school and continued to enjoy membership in several clubs over the years with his friend, Bob Brown. At this time, he also discovered his love for hunting and fishing. Darrell went on to Horlick High School, graduating with the Class of 1983.
An important part of Darrell’s life took place shortly after his family moved to Caledonia. He and his siblings were invited by Parkway Apostolic Church in nearby Oak Creek to attend services there, and the church bus would come by to pick them up and bring them there. It was the beginning of a long and fulfilling time in Darrell’s life as he grew to love what he experienced there. He gave his life to Christ and was soon baptized in the name of Jesus, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Darrell volunteered in various ministries at church and enjoyed the choir. He later became an usher and was on a regular rotation team.
Although Darrell never had a driver’s license, he thoroughly enjoyed walking all the same. He could be seen walking everywhere around town, and when he needed to travel long distances, he was an avid transit bus traveler. He memorized the bus routes and was always willing to share information with others. It was easy for him to make friends as he could engage in conversation with most everyone. Throughout the years he held several working positions, mainly for a number of food venues as a dishwasher and doing food preparation. He worked at O’Dennis’, DeRango’s and at the Roma Lodge. For a time he also worked at Racine Cast Iron Steel, and later did janitorial work at Parkway Apostolic Church.
Darrell’s love for hunting and fishing continued. He often traveled with family members and loved to accompany his friend, Jerry Rayeske to his property in Northern Wisconsin. They harvested sap from the maple trees for syrup and took in a little hunting and fishing while there. Once while deer hunting with another friend, Ed, Darrell came close to getting them in big trouble with the game warden. He decided to play “Rambo”, and fired numerous round into the air. He also liked archery and bow hunting. While in his room one time checking on his bow, Darrell took an arrow and drew back the bow. After accidentally releasing the arrow, he soon discovered it traveled through a new glass window his father recently installed. It eventually lodged in the side of the neighbor’s house!
When Darrell was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000, he was already experiencing several other health issues. Through the years that followed, he underwent many challenges trying to control the effects of the disease, and later developed cardiac issues. It was especially difficult for him when his mother died in 2005. Darrell took her death quite hard, and his health went up and down. Before long he had poor circulation in his lower extremities, along with congestive heart failure. He entered Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare–All Saints Hospital in Racine on Saturday, February 4, and sadly died on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the age of 48.
One of a kind, it was easy to love Darrell John Paccagnella. Ever friendly, he had a compassionate heart and was always willing to lend a helping hand. He will be always remembered for his, “Smile, Smile, Smile”.
Darrell was the cherished son of Neil and the late Patricia “Penny” Paccagnella; loving brother to Dean Paccagnella and Kellie (Rick) Smetana; proud uncle of Kasey Lynn, Ashley Marie, Isabella, Olivia and Sophia, great-uncle of Dev. He is further survived by special friend, Lorraine Zacher, other relatives and friends. Family and friends will gather Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at Parkway Apostolic Church, 10940 S. Nicholson Road in Oak Creek, WI from 6:00 PM until the time of the his Memorial Service at 7:00 PM. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory of Darrell and to sign his online guest book. The family is being served by Suminski Life Story Funeral Home-Niemann/Suminski, 414-744-5156. www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com.