August 14, 2021
Sacramento, California - A Life Well Lived
Death does not get the last word on a life well lived. The family and his legion of friends have a difficult time accepting that Randy Paragary is gone. The clocks will tell time a little differently for a while, restaurants will appear bleaker, bars not as jovial, the laughter not as easy, the tears too accessible, and someone who made a life's mission out of enhancing Sacramento hospitality is being missed by a community he changed considerably.
Randy Earl Paragary lost his brief battle with pancreatic cancer on August 14, 2021. Randy didn't lose often, and he ended his time of vigor and intensity on this earth in the special care of the family he cherished. His children, Lisa and Sam, are his most remarkable legacy and brought him his greatest satisfaction. He found extraordinary happiness in his personal life and the business endeavors he shared with his wife of almost 28 years, Stacy. Though strong on their own, together they were lightening, fun, loving, clever, connected by a touch and a glance, and a mutual source of endless inspiration.
Randy was adventurous by nature. A world champion water ski jumper at the age of thirteen, he was a popular student who was too competitive not to do better than his grades in the classroom suggested. He stayed in school long enough to get a law degree and had a keen intelligence that would have allowed him to upend the legal profession. Instead, he was a precocious entrepreneur who opened his first bar at age 23.
That first bar was followed by forty different restaurant concepts and his proudest business accomplishment, The Fort Sutter Hotel. He never gave up. He took real risks and confronted failure. Although sentimental, and a Disney movie would always make him cry, and his vinyl record collection was a refuge, if a restaurant or bar didn't work, he would re-imagine it. He was never afraid to make a difficult decision. Always fair, steady and trusted, his graciousness was related to his integrity. He was not easy to impress, but those people who did impress him were just as likely to be a bartender exhibiting true hospitality as it was the governor sitting at one of his tables.
It is true that almost a million moments are preserved in the memories of those who celebrated special occasions in the establishments Randy brought to life. His successes in business were grounded in Randy being curious about people. He was always eager to meet a new guest and learn why they were in his restaurant. He had a playwright's heart and an accountant's brain. His footprint on the Sacramento restaurant scene is inexorable and lasting in the thousands of employees who grew up and learned hospitality while working for Randy. His voice is also alive in the fabulous restaurants he was so proud to see others who left Paragary's to open on their own.
All of his life Randy was as cool as fresh air. He made others laugh, and laughed often himself in his quiet, bemused and understated way. His wit was puncturing, yet never hurtful. He was the consummate listener. People knew they mattered when they were with him. As a young man his long hair and mustache captured the California hippie. And, as he got older, he often had people tell him he never aged. While he knew this was not true, he loved hearing it.
He was a loving husband, father, son and brother. Until the last weeks of his life when the fateful diagnosis changed everything, he and his now 93-year-old mother and daughter enjoyed having Sunday brunch together. He had all the failings and foibles of a genuine human being. He brought those complexities to friendships, and an ineffable glow is gone with his departure. Soon, of course, the fierceness of grief will pass, and all those who knew him will feel better when they think of their time in his company. The best that can be said is that Randy Paragary made the world better for others and is an example of a life well lived.
Randy was laid to rest at East Lawn Cemetery on August 28th in a private ceremony. His family invites you to join them for his memorial service on September 21 at the Trinity Cathedral at 2620 Capitol at 10 am. Overflow guests will be welcomed to the B Street Theatre main stage next door with a live feed from the cathedral. Please wear a mask as safety protocols will be followed.
In lieu of flowers, those interested are encouraged to donate to the upcoming inspirational lighting project in Midtown's Sutter District where Randy spent so much of his time. The project will be led by the Midtown Association/Midtown Parks and will pay tribute to Randy's lasting influence on our region. To contribute, please mail donations to Midtown Association, 1401 21st Street, Unit A, Sacramento, CA 95822 or donate online at http://exploremidtown.org/midtownparks/
Published by The Sacramento Bee on Sep. 15, 2021.