By Sarah Hite Hando and Mary Therese Biebel, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Longtime local nonprofit volunteer and business community champion Frank Pasquini died Thursday at the age of 67 after battling colon cancer for more than two years.
Pasquini, a longtime city resident who recently moved to Kingston, was a past president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association for four years and former director of capital resources for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.
John Maday, current president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association, said the Greater Wilkes-Barre community is better for having Pasquini a part of it.
“There are some people who you think they’re always going to be here,” said Maday. “I don’t remember a time when Frank wasn’t part of the equation, and now he is gone, and that’s sad.”
Maday said he and Pasquini go “way back,” having worked together at King’s College and eventually partnered in the same community organizations. Maday said Pasquini could always see the big picture, and that perspective was important when trying to imagine a better downtown.
“He was one of those unique individuals who worked in the world of education, with nonprofits, and worked on many fundraising campaigns, and then worked in the business community,” said Maday. “He was able to go back and forth between those worlds seamlessly. Not many people could do that.”
Pasquini, a graduate of GAR Memorial Jr./Sr. High School, also served as board president of the Wilkes-Barre Educational Improvement Foundation.
Former Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton said he had known Pasquini long before his tenure as mayor, and his involvement in the community, especially his dedication to downtown, was unmatched.
“He was very involved, and did everything for the good of the city,” said Leighton. “He was always involved in coming up with ideas, was there to help support any of the events the city had. He was there to help in any way to assist the city to make it a great place to live, work and socialize. He was a true advocate for what he did for all the businesses downtown.”
After graduating from King’s College in 1971, Pasquini returned 13 years later to work in the student affairs office before serving as the vice president for institutional advancement. The college awarded Pasquini the King’s College Alumni Award for Service to Society in 2015.
“Frank was a tireless and dedicated servant to his family, his faith, his alma mater and his community,” said Fr. John Ryan, C.S.C., president of King’s College, in a statement. “His enthusiasm for King’s was infectious and he helped lead the College’s fundraising efforts for many years, including a successful capital campaign. The King’s community mourns his loss and shares its thoughts and prayers with his family.”
In retirement, he taught, consulted and mentored nonprofits as professional fundraising counsel.
While many people knew Pasquini as a tireless promoter of downtown Wilkes-Barre, Cathy Mack, of Pittston, said there was another side to his personality — a deep religious faith.
Mack got to know Pasquini about three years ago, when he volunteered to help make people aware of a traditional Catholic devotion — a Divine Mercy service she has organized for the past 11 years on the Sunday after Easter in the Pittston area.
“I know he’s got his reward from Jesus,” Mack said. “Jesus promised, if you trust in me and believe in divine mercy, the minute you die, I’ll be right there with you. Frank is seeing Jesus already.”
Pasquini and his wife, Donna, recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
“Frank was our hero. I can’t tell you how many times he came to our rescue. Whenever we needed him, he never let us down,” said Donna. “He was a wonderful husband and father.”
Surviving in addition to his wife are sons Frank, Chris, Michael and David.
“He was a wonderful, generous, perfect Dad,” said his oldest son, Frank. “I can only dream of filling his shoes.”
Daughter-in-law Laura Pasquini, the younger Frank’s wife, said she is “devastated” her 5-month-old son will not grow up to know his grandfather, but was glad they were part of each other’s lives, even for a short time.
“Nobody could make the baby smile like Frank could,” she said. “The rest of us could stand on our heads, but all Grandpop had to do was grab his foot and say, ‘Hey there, little guy.’”