Semper Fi: Community mourns life of Sgt. Major Parisi

Photo by Amy Cherry - Alyssa Parisi accepts the American flag following the funeral service for her father, USMC Ret. Sergeant Major Todd Parisi, 49, on Thursday morning at the Sacred Heart Parish Center in St. Marys.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

Under somber skies Thursday morning, family, friends and community members joined together to honor the life of the late retired USMC Ret. Sergeant Major Todd Parisi.
A standing-room only crowd gathered inside the Sacred Heart Parish Center gymnasium for a funeral service where those in attendance paid their final respects to a man who positively infected the community with his motivational and compassionate spirit.
Parisi, 49, died suddenly Thursday, March 29 at his home in St. Marys.
There were laughter and tears during the service where his father, Louis Parisi, addressed those in attendance.
“I’m going to miss him something terribly. I loved Todd so, so much. He was a good son. I loved him with all my heart and I always will,” Louis said.
Among those at the service were Marines of all ages.
“He loved all the Marines. Being a Marine meant the world to him. He was dedicated and was the perfect Marine,” Louis said. “I’m proud of him not just as a Marine but as the person he was.”
In addition to his 28 years of service in the Marine Corps, Parisi is remembered for his tireless service to the St. Marys area, specifically in having founded the local Team Spartan youth group in 2017.
The group, which focuses on community volunteerism, leadership, team building and promoting personal growth, grew from 40 youth members to 300 within three weeks, a testament to Parisi’s hard work and dedication to his community and beyond.
Poster photo colleagues created by members of Team Spartan were on display at the front of the gym as well as lining the hallway walls commemorating the life of the sergeant major.
“He really didn’t consider himself a hero. He just wanted to help people,” Louis said. “He wanted them (the youth) to go down the right road. They thought so much of Todd. They had so much respect for him.”
Since the founding of the youth group in 2017, Parisi orchestrated a variety of community and philanthropic activities including first responder appreciation events, visits to senior living facilities and nursing homes, a vehicle donation for a single mother in need and raising funds to help a young boy with rare medical conditions attend a Lady Gaga concert.
According to his father, Parisi succeeded in collecting $85,000 in contributions which was donated to numerous organizations and individuals in need.
Parisi was also a motivational speaker featured at national and international companies. In addition to Team Spartan, he also founded Forever Warriors, a local veterans support group.
USMC Ret. First Sergeant Troy Schielein traveled from Michigan to speak at the service at the request of the family. Schielein served 25 years with Parisi in the Marine Corps.
“It was pretty humbling to speak about such a man that made such an impact all over this world,” Schielein said.
Everywhere Parisi went he changed lives, according to Schielein.
“He exemplified everything every human being should be on this earth. He fired up every person with compassion, love and motivation,” Schielein said, noting Parisi’s ability to reach people both young and old.