Emmett William Pacetti, devoted husband, father, and civic leader, died peacefully May 5, 2014, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
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He was a sixth generation St. Augustinian, born June 13, 1925, to Macy Pinkham Pacetti and Joseph Emmett Pacetti. An honored athlete at St. Joseph Academy in basketball, football, and track, he moved to Washington, D.C. and graduated from St. John's College High School. After graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y., he spent several months during the waning days of World War II providing supplies to the various Black Sea ports of the Soviet Union. He continued his education with a degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. Beginning his career with the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville, he went on to start his own engineering and surveying firm at the corner of Spanish and Hypolita streets in St. Augustine and dedicated himself to making St. Augustine a better place to live. In addition to his many roles in civic life, he served as president of the Jaycees, where he helped introduce the popular Days in Spain celebration (aka "The Fiesta") held every September for many years, and as president of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. During this period he expanded his business to include real estate sales and served in various capacities with the St. Augustine Board of Realtors.
After a move to St. Augustine Beach in 1974, he began his involvement with beach life. Elected to the St. Augustine Beach City Commission in 1989, he was elected mayor in 1990 and then continuously served as mayor from 1994 until his retirement from political life in 2002. During his tenure he was instrumental in having a network of sidewalks installed, as well as relocating City Hall to its current location on S.R. A1A. His proudest official achievement resulted from a 10-year crusade of persuasion and lobbying: obtaining government funding for a beach renourishment project that completed its first phase in 2002 and restored to the beach "hundreds of feet … to the expansive breadth it had before the St. Augustine Inlet was opened in the 1950s." (The St. Augustine Record, Feb. 9, 2003). He made sure that additional phases were funded well into the future so that new generations of beachgoers could enjoy the same beach where his future wife, Virginia Amara Pacetti, introduced herself to him in 1952 by kicking sand in his direction. (They had their first date that same night).
In addition to his beloved wife of more than 60 years, he is survived by a sister, Hildegard Pacetti, and a brother, Pinkham Pacetti (Linda); children Dale Pacetti (Annette) of Brentwood, Tenn., Randy Pacetti, St. Augustine, Carol Guerriere (Doug) of Colleyville, Texas, and Ronnie Pacetti, St. Augustine; as well as grandchildren, Blakely and Caroline Guerriere, and Drew, Kasie, Virginia and Will Pacetti, great-grandson, Mason; nieces, Elaine and Paige, and nephews, Steve, Joe, and Gary.
His life will be celebrated at 3 p.m. Friday, May 9, 2014, at Craig Funeral Home. The family will receive friends an hour before the service. A burial will follow in San Lorenzo Catholic Cemetery.
Flowers are gratefully declined and contributions can be made in his memory to The Bailey Family Center for Caring - Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.
Craig Funeral Home Crematory Memorial Park www.craigfuneralhome.com is in charge of the arrangements.
Craig Funeral Home Memorial Park
1475 Old Dixie Highway
St. Augustine, FL 32086
Published in St. Augustine Record from May 7 to May 8, 2014