Donald M. Panciera Sr.
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Donald M. Panciera Sr., 84, of Yarmouth Drive, Westerly, passed away surrounded by his loving family on Thursday morning, Feb. 9, 2012, at the Chestnut Cottage at The Elms of Westerly. He is survived by his wife of 24 years, Patricia A. (Perri) Panciera of Westerly, his son, Donald M. Panciera Jr. of Ashaway, his daughters, Gail E. Panciera of Westerly and Lisa Panciera-Downer of Colchester, Conn., his step-daughter, Kristen Sweeney of Eliot, Maine, his stepsons, Sean Farley of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Scott Farley of Bel-Air, Md., his grandchildren, Tonya Mason, Matthew Panciera, Gina Lee, Suzanne Gwaltney, and Ashley, Chelsea, McKenzie and Courtney Downer, his step-grandchildren, John, Liam, and Erin Sweeney, and Will, Anna, Abigail and Benjamin Farley, six great-grandchildren and his brother, Irving Panciera of Hollywood, Fla. He was predeceased by his older brothers, Lawrence and Nardino.
Mr. Panciera was born in Westerly on June 23, 1927, the son of the late James and Westerlina (Campo) Panciera. Don was well-known as an exceptional high school, college and professional football player. His career began as a quarterback at LaSalle Academy where he was selected to the 1944 All State Football team. He led the 1945 Maroon team to an undefeated season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. He then went on to play at Boston College and the University of San Francisco. He played for the New York Yankees of the old American Football Conference as the youngest starting quarterback in that league. In 1951, he joined the former Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League, before playing for the Detroit Lions. He also played for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. When his professional career ended, he served as a coach at the University of Dayton and Boston College. He was inducted into the Providence Gridiron Club and in May 2008, he was inducted into the Rhode Island Interscholastic League High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Providence Journal sportswriter John Gillooly selected Don as one of the top 100 Athletes of the 20th Century. Don always maintained that playing high school football led him to his outstanding college and professional careers. He continued to advocate and support high school and college sports, especially the University of Rhode Island. He recognized how his sports experiences had a tremendous effect on his personal life.
Don began working for General Motors in 1960 as a District Manager, and a few years later, he was awarded a Chevrolet dealership in Wakefield which became known as Panciera Chevrolet. Don continued to run the business until his retirement in 1998. At the time, he held the distinction of having owned the business for 31 years, the longest operating dealership in Rhode Island.
In addition to being an avid sports fan, Don enjoyed playing golf, spending winters in Florida, walking, keeping fit, and attending daily Mass. He will always be remembered as a humble and gentle man.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, at 10 a.m. at St. Pius X Church, 44 Elm St., Westerly. There will be no procession from the funeral home. Burial will take place at River Bend Cemetery, Westerly.
Calling hours will be held on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Rushlow-Iacoi Funeral Home & Crematory, 64 Friendship St., Westerly. For online condolences, please go to .
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Donald M. Panciera Sr. Football Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 2963, Westerly, RI 02891 or go to .

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Published in The Westerly Sun on Feb. 10, 2012.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
February 17, 2012
I miss your smile and twinkle in those blue eyes so much!! Love ya Buddy!!!
February 17, 2012
i am so sorry to find out about Don's passing, i did business with Don for many years. he was a great person and a good friend he will be missed.
john glista
February 16, 2012
Dear Patti,
You're in my thoughts at this sad time.
With heartfelt sympathy and prayers,
Betsy Mercer
Betsy Mercer
February 14, 2012
My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of need. May your memories bring you comfort. With deepest sympathy.
Joe Petrone
February 14, 2012
Though I know that Don is in a better place, you still feel the loss. I will keep you in my thoughts & prayers.
Paul Ceresa
February 14, 2012
Dear Patti
So sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
Karen Cardone
Karen Cardone
February 13, 2012
Dear Patty, I am so sorry for your loss......
I always thought you and Don were a great couple.
Please accept my deepest sympathy.
Thinking of you .
Lynne Heaney
February 13, 2012
I had the pleasure of working for your husband many years ago and was saddened upon hearing of him passing away. He was a great man and taught me quite a bit about the car business. I will always look back at our rides into work together with great fondness as he imparted his fatherly advice on me. May God embrace him and may he rest in peace.
Joe Deteves
February 13, 2012
To the Panciera Family..........Words cannot express the sorrow and emptiness that we feel with Don's passing. Not only was he a major success at all his vocations in sports and business, he was the true measure of a gentleman and a dear friend.
I'm sure he is at peace with his Lord and Savior, and joking around with his idols Vince Lombardi and Joe Paterno.
God rest your soul, Donald buddy,we will surely miss you in this world.

George & Diane Prete
Delray Beach, FL
February 12, 2012
Mr.Don Panciera will always be remembered by me for his cheerfull personality and his tremendous ability to motivate the people who worked for him.Thank you Patty for making it possible for me to spend some time with him.He was a great guy and I will remember him in my prayers.
Will Sardelli
February 12, 2012

I was told by my guardian angel - Angela that Joe Paterno was short of a QB for his next game between the Angels and the Spitfires and Don was on top of this year's draft's short list. Go gettem Don, you will be missed.
Daniel Vellucci
February 12, 2012
Patty and family.
My condolences to you all. Don was much more than a boss to me he was a mentor and a friend. I will never forget our times together he added alot to my life both professionaly and personally.
Mike Casey and family
Mike Casey
February 12, 2012
Dear Patti and Family,
Don was blessed to be surrounded by the love of his family and dear friends. I know his caregivers and the residents at The Cottage had great compassion for him, and loved him for his warmth, his brilliant smile and his sense of humor. These memories will live on.
Deep sympathy for you all during this time of loss.
Sally Magliocchetti
February 11, 2012
Patti & Family, So sorry for your loss, but cherish those wonderful memories...
Cynthia Serra
February 11, 2012
Sorry for your loss, Don was a great guy and I will surely miss him.
Heather Price
February 11, 2012
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
February 11, 2012
Dear Patti,
You are in my heart and thoughts at this difficult time. I adored Donald and have great memories of his wonderful smile!
God Bless to you and your family.
Lori Del Sesto
February 10, 2012
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Marjorie DeLillo Fagre
February 10, 2012
Dear Patty & Family,

We are saddened to learn of Don's passing. He was a legend. Having the Panciera surname, there were countless times during my business career that Don's name would come up and someone would reflect on his athletic accomplishments.

You will all be remembered in our daily prayers during this very difficul time. We regret not being able to attend services for Don.

We send our deepest condolences.
Harold & Julie Panciera
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