Longtime San Joaquin Delta College Trustee Dan Parises, who died Saturday, will be remembered for his first two loves: Family and farming. He would have been 76 on Saturday.
His parents, Simeon and Angelica, were Greek immigrants who came to Lodi, where Dan Parises and his two brothers grew up. He attended Live Oak School, Lodi High School and the former Stockton College.
On Sept. 4, 1960, Parises married Elisa Righetti, the daughter of Italian immigrants, and would fondly call her "Doll." They worked side by side together, from farming to public service to winemaking.
His latest venture in retirement was bottling Zinfandel under the label "St. Sophia," named for his two granddaughters, Gianna Sophia and Sophia Breanne.
The Paul Simeon Collection, named for Parises' son, was founded in 2006 after years of banter that Paul's name would make a great winery name — and that one day he would found it.
The first vintage in 2007 took top honors at the Orange County wine competition, and earned the same honor in 2008. In 2009, it was the platinum winner of the Lodi Consumer Wine Awards.
Angela Brusa, his other child, said he enjoyed pouring at ZinFest and other local wine events. She and her brother will continue the business.
"It was like a retirement dream ... and it ended up being very, very good," she said of the wine.
Her fondest memories of her father are on the farm when she, Paul and their mother would make Parises scrambled egg sandwiches and chocolate milk in a jar. They would then take the meal to the fields and watch for the dust blowing up from the tractor; then they'd wait there to share an impromptu meal together.
She also remembers thinning vines or removing suckers from the family's grape vineyards along Armstrong Road. They also owned and operated Blue Sky Farms' roadside fruit stand at Harney and West lanes.
Brusa said her father overcame a lot of adversity and was not only strong in his political convictions, but his personal ones as well. For example, when Parises was just 17, his father died. Parises not only took on the family farm, but also handled business transactions for his mother, who never learned to speak English or drive.
"He always taught us kids to get back up, dust yourself off and everything will be OK," Brusa said.
Parises, who achieved the rank of second lieutenant in the National Guard, served as a San Joaquin County Supervisor from 1970 to 1974 — a tenure he ended as board chairman — and later as one of the longest-serving trustees on the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees, a position he held for more than 33 years. He received a state award for the tenure.
Former Supervisor Adrian Fondse of Ripon served with Parises for two years.
"I can't say anything bad about him," Fondse said recalling their time together, close to 40 years ago. "He was a friendly fellow and had a good heart. He always had the best interest at hand for the people up north."
One of Parises' proudest moments was the endorsement of Ronald Reagan in 1976 when he ran on the Republican ticket for the 7th Assembly seat, according to family.
They said he never forgot a face or name, and could strike up a conversation with anyone. His great sense of humor and huge presence filled the room at get-togethers.
"He could walk into any place, and when we left, he'd made a friend or two," Brusa recalled.
Retired Board of Supervisors Clerk Lois Sahyoun was not only a colleague of Parises, but was close to the family. Their daughters were the same age, while their sons played high school football together. "After he left the board, we stayed friends."
Sahyoun recalled fondly how it was the board of 1970 that hired her; Parises was the last living board member of that year.
"He was well liked by his constituents. He knew all of their names. If they called with a problem, he handled it personally," she said. "Those kinds of things stand out to people.
"He just got along well with everyone."
Best friend Mike Manassero probably knew Parises better than most, as the two grew up together and had been friends since age 15. Months after they graduated high school, the two enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard in Lodi on the same day, Aug. 18, 1954.
"It's sad to see him gone. We used to go camping when our kids were young. We went fishing together more than once and liked cars, as most young kids do," Manassero said during a break Thursday from making funeral arrangements.
"I'm going to miss going to dinner with him and just communicating with him," he said. "I can't believe he's gone."
Visitation is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Lodi Funeral Home, 725 S. Fairmont Ave. A Greek Trisagion service will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the funeral home, while a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Basil Greek Orthodox Christian Church, 920 W. March Lane, in Stockton. Committal will be private.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.