Kenneth Hazzard Panciera
Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home
59 Spruce St.
Westerly, RI
Kenneth Hazzard Panciera, 89, of Panciera Lane, Hopkinton, R.I., beloved husband of Gilda Anne (Liguore) Panciera for 67 years, retired R.I. Army National Guard lieutenant colonel and Korean War veteran, lifelong farmer and devoted family man, died on Sunday, March 15, 2020, at the Elderwood of Scallop Shell at Wakefield, R.I., nursing facility.
"Ken" was born to the late Peter and Nellie Panciera, in Westerly, R.I. He was the brother of the late Mary (Panciera) Briggs and Ronald W. Panciera. He was the father of four children, Andrea Panciera, Christopher J. Panciera and Kenneth P. Panciera, all of Hopkinton, and the late Lynn K. (Panciera) Algier. He is also survived by two grandchildren, Bradley D. Algier Panciera of Lutz, Fla., and Emily P. Panciera, Westerly; sisters-in-law Louise (Liguore) Fitzgerald and Joanne (Church) Panciera, both of Westerly; several nieces and nephews, and Emily's mother, Amy Panciera.
Ken was known as a hard worker, loyal friend and trusted leader, with a winning smile. He co-owned and operated Russet Valley Farm in Hopkinton, started by his grandfather, Christopher Panciera, a native of Forno di Zoldo in the Italian Dolomites, in the 1890s. Ken ran it at first with his brother, Ron, as an Ayrshire dairy farm and later as a breeder of polled Hereford beef cattle. After selling the dairy herd in 1975, he became an award-winning insurance agent with The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company, then as the regional agent for Farm Family Insurance, insuring most farmers in Rhode Island.
He began his military career at the University of Rhode Island, graduating from the ROTC program in 1952 as a second lieutenant. He went on to serve with the 2nd Infantry Division in the DMZ in Korea in 1953-54 and then the Army Reserve from 1954-59.
He joined the R.I. Army National Guard in 1959, where he began as a first lieutenant in the 103rd Field Artillery, jumped his way to master paratrooper, earned the coveted Green Beret, commanded several units and retired in 1980 as battalion commander, 6th Special Forces Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group. Notably, he also organized and commanded the first Special Forces detachment at the Westerly Armory.
At URI, he majored in agronomy, belonged to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and played varsity baseball.
A 1948 Westerly High School graduate, he was class president and vice president, quarterback and co-captain of the football team, and played baseball. There he met his future wife, "Jill," a cheerleader for the football team.
When not caring for his cows, Mr. Panciera was an avid skier, played golf and watched the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics. He enjoyed military and local histories, cowboy novels and movies, traveling with his wife, dancing and singing to Big Band music. A believer in land preservation, he and his brother sold development rights to their farm, saving it as open space.
He belonged to the Flying Fifties ski club at Loon Mountain, skiing into his 70s. He was a member of the Westerly Yacht Club, Winnapaug Country Club, R.I. Farm Bureau, American Hereford Association and past president of the R.I. Ayrshire Breeders Club. Recently, he enjoyed attending the Westerly Adult Day Center.
Due to coronavirus concerns, visiting hours are omitted and burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Arrangements are in care of Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly. For online condolences, visit
Published by The Westerly Sun on Mar. 22, 2020.
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4 Entries
Andrea - Emily and I wish you and your family all the peace possible with the loss of your father. May future memories bring a smile to your heart. God Bless
Tom Donovan
April 3, 2020
Panciera Family,

So sorry for your loss a better man would be hard to find. Memories, I went to WHS with Ken younger brother Ronny. I knew there father Pete as we had coffee together many morning at the old R&N Store in Bradford. Pete, Lloyd Church, Mr. Shawn and George Pierce were all story tellers. Each tried to tel a fib better then the other. To this day I catch myself laughing as I recall some of there stories. Peter and Kenny allowed me to rabbit hunt on there farm for many years. There farm is next to my great-great grandparents Charles and Annie Babcock off Tomaquag Road which I am the caretaker of today.
After reading Kenny obituary one will know what a great man he was he served his Country well. I am also a US Army veteran of Vietnam and I salute Kenny for his service. He truly left a foot print for his family members to follow.
Where we are now Kenny was. Where Kenny is now we shall be.

Chief Sachem "Sun Rise" Byron Brown
Wiquapaug Eastern Pequot Indian Tribe
March 22, 2020
Andrea and family, my sincere condolences on your loss. What a long, full and prolific life he had! May your memories sustain you during this difficult time.
Wendy (Young) Zecchino
March 22, 2020
God Bless Kenny Panciera, one helluva nice guy. A life of many accomplishments, and many friends. Many years ago when Kenny was farming, I used to deliver feed and supplies to him. He had a bull that was one BAD hombre.One day I had to put a load of sacks of beet pulp into a loft that was directly above this bull's stall in the barn. The bull went into an absolute rage below me getting up on his hind legs and butting the ceiling above his stall repeatedly. For a while I thought I was a dead man, but I finished and got out of there.
Many years later I related this story to Kenny at my Uncle's funeral.
We had a good laugh about it. My condolences to the family.
Dan Dinoto
March 21, 2020
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