James ‘Ratsie’ Paradiso died at home surrounded by family on September 30, 2011. He was 75 years old.
Did you know Ratsie? If you met him you wouldn't forget him. He was a unique individual, for sure. A native and lifelong resident of Watkins Glen, he served in the Army before receiving a degree in electrical engineering from Alfred College. He worked briefly for Shepard Niles before life took him in another direction. In 1963 he assumed responsibility for the family restaurant after his father fell ill. A successful businessman, he was the owner and operator of Paradiso’s Restaurant for 34 years, catering to locals, tourists, and the occasional race car driver.
Upon entering retirement he embraced new found opportunities, resuming gardening, volunteering for local organizations, and bartering with businesses to keep WG's Adopt-a- Highway program thriving. One of his greatest pleasures came from his participation in the region’s pool playing community. He was a skilled shooter, having learned the sport at Shang’s Pool Hall as a youth, and was well known in the area competing in many tournaments, some as far away as Las Vegas. Though his preference for socializing was limited, over the years he was a member of several local clubs, including the Elks, Moose, Redman, American Legion, Mechanics Club and the VFW.
Jim lived life on his own terms; there was no way around that. A man of few words he had much to say, infusing everything with his dry wit, humor, and unique view of the world. He was a seeker of knowledge, evidenced by the stacks of books, papers and clipped articles on his kitchen table. If you were one of the lucky ones, that information made it to you in some unusual and unexpected way, with a spirited debate not far behind. Jim was a generous soul, and what one might describe as a ‘zealot’ in the 'reduce, reuse, recycle' movement.
Jims health declined rapidly in the past few years and he was the fortunate recipient of exceptional support from many people who cared for him greatly, including his sister Jo Pat Wright, who selflessly gave of her medical knowledge, time, patience and love, his sister Mary Cook, his son Greg, his daughter Olivia, his lifelong friend and ex-wife, Liz, and his care providers Anna Snyder, Jesse Parish, and Connie Rekczis.
Having moved beyond his physical being, we envision him engaged in an animated reunion with his much loved family who eagerly awaited his arrival - his parents Ratsie and Angie, his sister Cliss, and his children Jimmy and Lisa.
Jim is survived by his children Greg (Cathy) Paradiso of Parkton, MD, Anne (Charles Baah) Paradiso of Burlington, VT, Julia (John Davis) Paradiso of Burlington, VT and Olivia Paradiso of Watkins Glen. He is also survived by his brothers Paul and Bob, his sisters Mary (David) Cook and Jo Pat (Jack) Wright. "Papa" had ten grandchildren - Caitlin, Angelo, Anna, Gianni, Gabriel, Juliana, Sam, Eva, Theo and Sofia - and likely will be remembered as a jokester, somewhat eccentric, and probably a bit grumpy; as Jim would have said, “a curmudgeon”.
At his request there will be no funeral or service. Family and friends are invited to a life celebration at the former location of Paradiso's Restaurant in Watkins Glen (now Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill) from 5-10pm on Thursday, October 6th.
As a pragmatist, Jim would see no value in flowers. If you would like to remember him he has suggested donations to the Schuyler County Ambulance Association and the Watkins Glen Police Benevolence Association.
And when the next opportunity presents itself, we ask you to grab a Coors Light and raise a short glass in his memory. We sure will miss you Jim- until we meet again.