Obituary: Rally Migliaccio

Wed, 08/31/2011 - 1:36pm

Rally Migliaccio, a year-round resident of Block Island for 40 years, passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 23. He was general manager of the Block Island Boat Basin for more than 32 years and, for 24 years, the beloved husband of Frances (Huggard) Migliaccio.

Mr. Migliaccio was proud to be a native of Rhode Island, the Ocean State, and was around boats most of his life.

Born Raffaele Migliaccio on December 15, 1926, in Cranston, R.I., he was always known to family and friends as Rally (pronounced “Raleigh”). His parents were Christopher and Dorothea (Bowen) Migliaccio.

He grew up in the Edgewood section of Cranston. After attending the Peddy School in Hightstown, N.J., he enlisted in the army in 1945 and served in Italy as a sergeant in the Military Police. Returning to Rhode Island after the war, he went into business with his father in Ritz Metal Products, a manufacturer of costume and novelty jewelry items in Providence.

In 1950, he married his first wife, Ursula Grimmel. The couple had one child, Ursula, now deceased. Mr. Migliaccio’s father-in-law, Dr. Harry Grimmel of Goettingen, Germany, had founded Hoechst Chemical Corporation in this country, and Mr. Migliaccio went to work for Hoechst in the marketing end of the plastics division.

Throughout the next two decades, Mr. Migliaccio continued his career in plastics marketing engineering, first with Comet Industries, then with Phillips Petroleum packaging division.

In the 1970s Mr. Migliaccio left the plastics industry for a nautical sales career, working at his father’s boat brokerage business at Port Edgewood in Cranston.

Mr. Migliaccio first came to Block Island in 1937 as a Boy Scout. After World War II ended, from 1946 on, he never missed a summer on the island. His parents’ boat, Twilight, was regularly berthed at Payne’s Dock, tucked in next to Mahogany Shoals.

An avid sailor, he often sailed to Block Island and took part in Block Island Race Week. He was a Bermuda Race sailor, completing seven Bermuda Races during the 1950s and 1960s. The boats he raced included the yachts Legend, owned by Adrian C. Humphries; Flying Tartan, owned by Jim Murray out of Garden City, N.Y.; the 54-foot staysail schooner Fortune, owned by Monroe Fiering out of East Greenwich, R.I.; and several other notable boats during the course of his sailing career. He raced in many Off-Soundings and Annapolis to Newport races. He competed in two Chesapeake Bay Skippers’ Races. During his racing and sailing days, Mr. Migliaccio formed many friendships with sailing buddies that continued to the end of his life.

Mr. Migliaccio was a member of the Storm Trysail Club, based in Larchmont, N.Y.

In addition to sailing, Mr. Migliaccio enjoyed frequent fishing trips while on Block Island. He was instrumental in starting the Block Island Billfish Tournament.

While on Block Island, Mr. Migliaccio met his second wife, Diana Newell. The couple married in 1969. Diana’s mother was the late Jean Beck, of the Beck Farm on Sands Pond Road, Block Island. During the 1970s, Rally and Diana built a summer home on land inherited from Jean Beck. It was that home that became, and remained, Mr. Migliaccio’s year-round residence on Block Island.

In 1979, Mr. Migliaccio and his brother-in-law, Donald Fraser, formed the Block Island Boat Basin at New Harbor, located on land owned by the Mott family. Mr. Migliaccio was a hands-on manager at the Boat Basin until the end of his life, actively involved in all phases of the boating business that he knew so well. He was loved by his employees and the many regular customers who made up the summer boating “family” at the Boat Basin, and he will be greatly missed. The marina continues to run as Mr. Migliaccio ran it for 32 years, with the management team that he put in place.

Mr. Migliaccio and his wife, Fran, met on Block Island in November 1986. The couple married a year later and spent their life on Block Island, working at the Block Island Boat Basin. During winters, when they could take time off from work, they traveled to many different parts of the world together.

During his years on Block Island, Mr. Migliaccio served on the Harbors Committee, working with Chairman Walter Filkins to establish the mooring field in Great Salt Pond. He also served on the Sewer and Water commissions, the board of the Block Island Chamber of Commerce and the board of Block Island Residents Association. As a charter member of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, he won an award for having the first pump-out facility in New Harbor. He was a member of American Legion Post 36 and the Block Island Lions Club.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Migliaccio is survived by his sister, Loretta Fraser, of North Kingstown; brother-in-law Donald Fraser, of Narragansett; niece and godchild Allison Fraser of Saunderstown; daughter and son-in-law Newell and Ron Carapezzi, of Fairfield, Conn.; grandchildren Susan Northcutt, of Sandwich, Mass.; Grace and Benjamin Carapezzi, of Fairfield, Conn.; as well as numerous cousins and other relatives associated with Block Island.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. Migliaccio’s memory are requested for Block Island Health Services, P.O. Box 919, Block Island, RI 02807; or Odyssey Hospice, 2374 Post Road, Suite 206, Warwick, RI 02886.

A funeral mass will be held on Thursday, Sept. 1, 12:30 p.m., at St. Andrew Church on Chapel Street, Block Island, with burial to follow at the Island Cemetery.