WOONSOCKET - Virgil Rasta, 82, of 37 Wilcox Street, Woonsocket RI, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 18th 2013, surrounded by his loving family at the Oakland Grove Health Care Center. He was son of the late Anastasia (Balamaci) and Dimitrie Rasta and beloved brother of the late Vinson Rasta, Louisa (Rasta) Cheamitru, Christy Rasta, Victoria (Rasta) Bileca, and Victor Rasta. Virgil was born on June 19th 1931 in Woonsocket, RI and called the city his home.
He was Loving Uncle to Kathy (Rasta) Thomas, Margaret (Rasta) Monteiro and Edward of Woonsocket; Alison (Rasta) Dodge and Brian of Norfolk, Ma; Hilary (Rasta) White and Joseph of Needham, Ma; Carolyn (Rasta) Blom and Jeff of Wayland, Ma; Peter Cheamitru of Florida; Michael Cheamitru and Cindy of Maryland; Thomas Cheamitru of Maryland; Jimmy Bileca, and Karen (Bileca) Scinto and Richard of Fairfield, CT.
He was Loving Grand Uncle to Matthew, Sarah and Anna Thomas, Daniel Allaire, Amy (Allaire) Garcia, and Edward Monteiro, Emily, Holly, Chloe, and Cal Dodge, Erica and Evan White, Alexandra and Sierra Blom, Arthur and Kristina Cheamitru, James Cheamitru, Nicholas, Alexander, and Kara Cheamitru, Richard and Krystal Scinto.
He was Loving cousin to Nick Balamaci and Karyn, Linda (Balamaci) Amitrano and Jim, and Manuela Culetsu of New York; Nora Stilu of Florida and many other extended family members who also feel his loss.
Virgil graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1961 with a Master of Science Degree in Art Education. He also received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from RISD in 1956 along with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from RISD in 1953. He taught many different facets of art for the next thirty years at Woonsocket High School as an art educator.
Aside from teaching, he also shared his artistic expression with the school department by creating eight abstract wall murals depicting various musical instruments for the band room at Woonsocket High School. These magnificent murals still grace the band room walls today and continue to provide inspiration for all who view them. Virgil is also credited with the painstaking refinishing of the almost seven foot tall statue of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, who desperately needed repair after standing watch for so many years in front of the library at the old high school on Park Place. Minerva has since been moved to the high school on Cass Avenue where she rests peacefully behind the scenes. Virgil retired from the teaching profession in June of 1990 having positively impacted an untold amount of students' lives.
As much as Virgil's talents were in demand, he never sought the limelight or accolades for his work. He was a humble man who always put others before himself and certainly touched the lives of many as he, too, worked quietly behind the scenes.
Virgil's talents were also shared with other organizations within the city as he was elected president of the Woonsocket Fine Arts Society in 1982. As president, he served to guide the city's cultural development as the appreciation for differing forms of artistic expression were showcased annually along the sidewalks of what was once a thriving Walnut Hill Plaza.
Virgil was also entrusted to create a logo commemorating the centennial anniversary of the City of Woonsocket in 1988. He graciously devoted his talents and time to create a unique, stylistic design, which appeared on souvenir items including flags, t-shirts, cups and many other mementos of the occasion for all to enjoy. The logo was also painted onto Clinton Street near the official reviewing stand along the celebratory parade route for all to view. Community members of Woonsocket admired and honored this logo as they all proudly celebrated their city, its beauty and its history.
Shortly after his graduation from Woonsocket High School in 1949, Virgil's strong sense of patriotism led him to enlist in the United States Army. The Army immediately recognized his immense talents and artistic creativity, commissioning him as a special artist for the Army. His duties included creating various poster artworks promoting the numerous learning opportunities available to enlisted members on base, among others.
Virgil was stationed in London, England for the majority of his deployment. Upon discharge, Virgil's experience serving his country inspired him to pursue an education and future in art.
Virgil's love of artistic expression was also evident in his devotion to his church. He designed and painted a wall mural in the St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church to commemorate the church's 75th anniversary in 1987; he selected the design for signage on the church's arched entryway which still stands today; he oversaw the meticulous restoration of the church's Holy icon paintings; he also helped to develop and design a grid map of the Orthodox cemetery which enabled members to locate and identify many old, unmarked graves from the early 1900s.
In 1995, Virgil's love of his church and Christ's teachings led him to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There he was able to walk in the steps of his Lord, gain inspiration and receive solace as his faith was confirmed.
Virgil was a selfless, good soul, kind to both stranger and friend, and so generous with his talents, time and love, especially when it came to family. Although he never married or had children, he was a father figure to all of his nieces and nephews who loved him dearly. Always accommodating of our needs, his love of all forms of art inspired an appreciation for creativity and imagination in us all. Our artist-in-residence supported our endeavors over the years and never failed to assist when his advice, guidance or expertise was needed.
Always ready and willing to give of himself Virgil devoted his life to his family, supporting all through both good and difficult times. No matter what challenges arose, Virgil was willing and ready to do whatever was needed for as long as needed, expecting nothing in return. He was the glue that held the family together during many trying experiences and we are truly thankful for the life lessons he has taught through his example. We pray that we will receive the wisdom to recognize the yet unknown lessons patiently waiting to be learned.
Rest in Peace Uncle Virgil. We love and miss you dearly. Our deep sorrow is only tendered with the comfort that you are now in the Holiest of all lands, surrounded with the love of your heavenly family.
An artist of love and loyalty, honor and integrity, your legacy will continue within us all, always.
Over and out.
On Saturday, August 24th 2013, a wake will be held at Saint John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church on East School Street from 9-11 am followed by a Service at 11am. Burial will then take place in the parish cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Virgil's family. Arrangements are under the directions of the Egidio DiPardo & Sons Funeral Home 75 Harris Ave. Woonsocket.