Livio Pardi ’57 recognizes that he is the man he is today because of his life experiences. There is nothing ordinary about Pardi’s path and he says that “to really know who I am you’ll have to know who I was and how I got there.”
Pardi’s story begins in Rome Italy in June 1939 when he was born, the product of his American mother and Italian father. When World War II began that September, all transatlantic shipping ended and Pardi and his family were trapped in Rome When the Italian government collapsed in September 1943 and the Germans took over, the family was forced to take refuge in the motherhouse of the Columban order of Irish priests in Rome. Pardi and his mother, grandmother (British) and brother lived hidden underneath the roof of the house, relying on the generosity of others, since they had no ration cards, no income and no identification. His mother and father experienced an emotional and physical separation during this time from which they never recovered; they ended up divorcing.
The family was able to come out of hiding when the American army entered Rome in June 1944. Pardi’s mother was hired as a translator by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which eventually became the CIA. Through this, his mother gained great respect for the U. S. Army. By November 1945 the family realized the economic and social consequences of the war and left Italy for New York on the first passenger ship to reach the U. S. from Europe after the war. Pardi and his family settled
in Cleveland, where his grandfather was working at the Statler Arms Hotel.
For the first eight months after arriving in the U. S., Pardi spent his time learning English. He then went away to Nazareth Hall Military School near Toledo, Ohio. His grandfather, however, really wanted his grandchildren to receive a European education. So, he offered to pay for them to do so and the family returned to Italy in 1950. Unfortunately, Pardi’s grandfather died unexpectedly and he was no longer able to start school in Italy. So, the family returned to Cleveland and Pardi attended St. Ann’s School in Cleveland Heights and then Gilmour.
Pardi and his brother worked as newspaper delivery boys and caddies to augment their mother’s salary so as to be able to attend Gilmour. When thinking about college, the family’s limited income, coupled with the boys’ excellent Gilmour education and deep respect for the American military, led Pardi to apply to West Point. He was selected after spending a year studying architecture at Case Western Reserve University. He describes his time at West Point as “the most difficult yet productive years of my life.” He says of his classmates there, “Their mental, physical and moral courage drove me to never let them or the Academy down.” Of the 600 graduates in his class, 24 would die in Vietnam and nearly 60 more would be wounded.
After serving as an infantry captain in Vietnam from 1966-1967, Pardi came to the realization that he would be of better service in medicine. In order to pursue this, he had to apply while still fighting a war in Vietnam as well as convince the Army Surgeon General to grant him a leave of absence The letter from the Surgeon General granting him a five-year leave was dropped in a mail packet from an artillery spotter plane passing over his unit while on a combat operation.
Pardi was accepted to the University of Miami and graduated in 1972. Returning to active duty after graduation, he did a rotating internship at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D. C. and ended up falling in love with the idea of helping bring life into the world. He did his three years of obstetrics/gynecology training at the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. Once finished, because of his prior experiences, the Surgeon General assigned him to a variety of clinical and leadership positions around the world. Some of the highlights include training to be a flight surgeon; soloing an Army helicopter; completing 85 Army parachute jumps in the U.S., Egypt and Honduras without serious injury; commanding the Frankfurt, Germany Army Hospital during the Beirut marine barracks bombing and commanding the Ft. Bragg Army Hospital during the early days of the HIV/AIDS outbreak. He returned to West Point for his last assignment as the Chief Executive Officer of Keller Army Community Hospital from 1990-1992 when he reached his maximum allowable years of service and retired.
Pardi did marry and had two children; his son, Alexander, is now 41, and his daughter, Diana, is 36. Pardi’s one regret in life is that he was not prepared to adequately identify, prioritize and balance all the important aspects of his life. He says, “Duty to my country and responsibility for the welfare of my soldiers their families and my patients often competed with my own family’s needs. He and the mother of his children ultimately divorced.
After retiring from the military in 1992, Pardi opted to become a locum tenens physician meaning that he works temporary assignments covering for doctors who are out on leave or a vacation. He is licensed in Florida, Georgia, New York, New Hampshire and California and takes on assignments in these states, typically working about 10-15 weeks a year. While it is difficult to step into an already-established practice with its own system in place he believes he is able to quickly “learn the ropes” because of his military experience and enjoys the flexibility that the arrangement affords him.
Upon moving to Florida, Pardi met his current wife, Lorraine. They married in 1993 and he gained three step-children: Kelley, 35; Eric, 32; and Mark, 26.
In addition to his dedication to the military and to his work, Pardi is a very serious sailor. The Pardis live on a 6,000-acre lake in Melrose, Fla. on which he loves to sail. He also has a sailboat that is big enough to take out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Pardi keeps in close touch with his Gilmour classmate, Lew Lanza 57, as well as his West Point classmates. He was able to visit with Lanza when he was in town for their class’ 55th reunion in June. Pardi credits Gilmour with teaching him to “love to learn” and with encouraging students to always want to expand their horizons.
Pardi’s military background taught him the importance of taking responsibility for his actions. His life experience taught him the importance of constantly working to improve oneself. He says “I have taken lives and I have saved lives, had proud achievements and dismal failures, looked for opportunities and not entitlements and am forever grateful for what Gilmour, West Point and Miami taught me.