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Astronaut, Warren native dies at 56

May 11, 2008
By JOE GORMAN / Tribune Chronicle
WARREN — The father of astronaut Ron Parise said some tried to discourage his son from taking part in the space program because of the danger.

But Henry Parise said Saturday, the day after the Warren native and Western Reserve High School grad died of a brain tumor at the age of 56, that he decided not to interfere with his son’s career choice.

‘‘I think he was a person who wanted to do more than just the ordinary,’’ Henry Parise said of his son.

Henry Parise, along with his wife Catherine and daughter Rita, said Ron’s love of space began when he was a small child. Catherine Parise said she had a love of space too but she did not tell her son because she did not want to seem like she was trying to influence him.

‘‘I never told him,’’ she said as they clustered around their kitchen table. ‘‘I didn’t want him to think I was pushing him into something.’’

Ron Parise was working for the Goddard Space Center and living in Silver Spring, Md. His father said Ron Parise had been fighting the tumor for the last three years.

In December 1990, Parise was a member of the space shuttle Columbia and in March 1995, he was a member of the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, both times as a payload specialist.

Henry Parise said he remembers watching his son lift off into space in person.

‘‘I was a little nervous, but we thought he’d be ok,’’ Henry Parise said.

As a boy, she knew he was interested in space when he drew a picture of the universe in first grade, Catherine Parise said.

‘‘He drew the sun and all the planets,’’ she said.

His parents bought him a telescope but Ron also made his own, and was serious about it, his father said.

‘‘When I say he made them, he made them.’’ Henry Parise said. ‘‘He ground the lenses himself.’’

Both parents said they never thought their son would be an astronaut, but Rita Parise said she thought her older brother had the drive to do it.

Ron Parise was also an accomplished amateur radio operator and his parents said he also liked camping and photography.

But he told his parents there was nothing like being in space.

‘‘The thing he liked the most was looking out the windows,’’ Catherine Parise said. ‘‘He said, ‘Mom, I can’t understand why anyone would want to destroy it (Earth).’ ’’

Parise himself said in 1998 that he would go again if called.

‘‘I’d go again in a minute,’’ Ron Parise said. ‘‘It’s such a remarkable mixture of feelings when you are in space. There is the experience of weightlessness, the incredible views. I can remember looking back at Earth, with all of its brilliant colors, and that pitch black sky as a backdrop. There’s nothing like it.’’

Fact Box

Ron Parise
Born: May 24, 1951, in Warren
Family: Wife Cecelia and two children, Nicholas and Katie
Education: Graduated from Western Reserve High School in 1969; graduated from Youngstown State University with bachelor of science in physics; graduated from the University of Florida with a master of science degree in astronomy in 1977 and a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1979.
Experience: Flew on space shuttle Columbia in 1990 and the Endeavour in 1995 as a payload specialist. Logged 614 hours and 10.6 million miles in space.
Research topics: Included circumsteller matter in binary star systems and the evolutionary status of stars in globular clusters.
Source: NASA



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