Middle School Hearts Dave Parise

Dave Parise — part of a longtime, well-known Westport family — was born with a genetic heart defect.

Obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was not noticeable when he was young. He wrestled, ran, and played football and baseball while growing up.

After graduating from Staples High School in 1976 he helped coach there, and joined the custodial staff. But in his early 40s he went on medication. A defibrillator was implanted. He developed blood pressure problems and a heart murmur. He took 9 medications, twice a day.

This past April, Dave was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Chemo and radiation exacerbated his heart condition.

In early October, while walking his dog at Southport Beach, David passed out. He was taken to Bridgeport Hospital.

Dave Parise, in the hospital.

On October 18 he underwent open-heart surgery. An adverse reaction to his blood thinner kept him in the hospital for 12 days.

Back home, he was in excruciating pain. He had pericarditis — an inflammation near the heart — and then complications from bleeding. He endured a second open-heart surgery, this time in New York.

It’s been a rough year for Dave and his wife Anne.

But the day before Thanksgiving, he got a call from Paul Coppola, assistant principal at Trumbull’s Madison Middle School. David’s been a custodian in that town for the past 5 years.

Students and staff have been uplifted by his friendliness, generosity and vibrant personality. He loves kids, and knows virtually every Madison student well.

The youngsters wanted to know where “Dr. Clean” had been. (His other nicknames: Mr. All-American Red White and Blue, and Dr. Patriot.)

One morning, Coppola called. They were  having a pep rally for him, he told Dave. They were singing songs and cheering — all via FaceTime.

Dave beamed. His spirits soared.

He can’t wait to get back to his school, his staff and his kids, and make his building shine again.

Dave Parise, flanked by his daughter Mary and wife Anne.

(Hat tip: Jack Backiel)

14 responses to “Middle School Hearts Dave Parise

  1. Charles Taylor

    Knew Sue

  2. Hang in there Big Dave!

  3. Dave, Keep yer Star Shining Brightly!
    Thanks for Sharing Dan!
    CELEBRATE EVERYTHING!!!

  4. Best Wishes for a great recovery! God Bless

  5. Keep up the good spirits Dave, we’re with you!

  6. Michael Calise

    Great story Dan,
    Dave – Best Wishes for a speedy recovery!!!

  7. Dave is my cousin and you can’t find a nicer guy in the world. That comment says it all.

  8. Peter Gambaccini

    I can’t think of anyone to whom the phrase “hasn’t got a mean bone in his body” better applies. He’s always been one of the very good guys. Be well, Dave.

  9. I want to comment on Assistant Principal Paul Coppola of Madison Middle School. He orchestrated this assembly and brought all the students in the school together to sing to Dave. What does this teach the kids? It teaches empathy and kindness and these students will be telling their grandchildren about this event! This guy has to be a special educator! I was in education for three decades and I never saw anything like this!

  10. Dave is a great guy. I’m glad to hear that he’s on the mend He’s a colorful, charismatic and fun guy. I wish him a speedy recovery.

  11. I’ve known Anne and Mary forever and Dave sounds like the 3rd pea in the pod. There is no kinder person in the world than Anne Parise. All my best wishes for a speedy recovery, a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2020.

  12. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Dave, I am proud to call you a lifelong friend. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  13. All the best Dave. Get well soon…

  14. David Schaffer

    I just saw Dave a year and a half ago, at our 40th year Staples reunion. Definitely want to see you at some more!