IN LOVING MEMORY

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Brattleboro mourns loss of civic leader Frank Giamartino

June 21, 2006

By DANIEL BARLOW Southern Vermont Bureau

Francis "Frank" Giamartino

BRATTLEBORO . In the pharmacy business, one couldn't ask for a nicer and more honest competitor than Hotel Pharmacy owner Francis "Frank" Giamartino, according to Ken Carpenter, the owner of Brattleboro's other local drug store, the Town Rexall Pharmacy.

Giamartino, the boisterous and charismatic owner of Elliot Street's Hotel Pharmacy since 1982, was an enthusiastic and honest downtown merchant, cast from a limited mold. And he wasn't afraid of having a friendly relationship with the competition, Carpenter said.

"If I was out of something I needed, he would loan it to me," Carpenter said of the man. "He ran a good operation. And that's why I sold my business to him this year."

Giamartino, a staple of Brattleboro's downtown community for more than 25 years, was killed Monday night in a single-vehicle crash along Route 30 in Dummerston.

A Teaneck, N.J., native, Giamartino graduated from Parsippany Hills High School in 1971 and received a pharmacology degree from the Union University's Albany College of Pharmacology five years later.

He purchased the Hotel Pharmacy in 1982 with his wife, Mary Giamartino, whom he married in 1978. The two were often together at the pharmacy.

"He was just a great guy," Mary Giamartino said at her home Tuesday. "He was a fantastic father. We all miss him."

Giamartino was an avid baseball fan . a proud and vocal supporter of the New York Mets . and applied that passion as the umpire of several area youth leagues, according to Jodi Harrison, a family friend who has worked at the pharmacy for 11 years.

"He did a lot for the community, but one of his favorite things was being an umpire," she said.

This was not the first time the Giamartino family has been struck by tragedy. One of their sons, Nicholas Giamartino, died of systemic sepsis in March 2001. A scholarship in his name was established at Brattleboro Union High School, where he was a senior and member of several sports teams.

"The family has had quite a bit of bad luck," Carpenter said. "It shows you how precious life is."

News of Giamartino's death spread fast across the town Tuesday morning. Many remarked that it was a sad day for Brattleboro.

Cynthia Green, the executive secretary to the Brattleboro town manager, noted that Giamartino would always "go out of his way to help his clients." Building a Better Brattleboro Executive Director Tom Franks called him "a great man who supported his community."

The mood at the Hotel Pharmacy, located in an 1800-era former Methodist church with striking gothic-style architecture, was somber Tuesday. The store was open, prescriptions were filled and the staff played his favorite music by Johnny Cash, Jackson Browne and the Grateful Dead.

"Everyone has been coming by to offer their condolences," Fletcher said. "They're bringing flowers and food. It's been a tough day."

Vermont State Police are still investigating the crash, which occurred while Giamartino was driving north at about 7:30 p.m. Police said he attempted to pass two vehicles when his car veered off into the woods.

Giamartino was transported by Rescue Inc. ambulance to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. His 2000 BMW Z-3 received major damage to the driver's side, undercarriage and frame.

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Trooper Travis Valcourt at 254-2382.