A Tree Grows at Norwich: The Passalacqua Family Legacy

Bicentennial Admin Year of Legacy Profiles

Samuel and Dominick PassalacquaLike father, like son.

And daughter, cousin, sister, uncle, niece, nephew, and grandfather. The Passalacqua clan loves Norwich University so much that 12 direct descendants over three generations call themselves alumni. Add in-laws who also attended, and that number grows to 14. Add Heidi Passalacqua P’15, who occupies the inimitable position of wife, widow, daughter, and mother of Norwich graduates, and that number reaches 15. This family tree continues to grow and extend.

It all started with patriarchs and brothers Samuel ’54 and Dominick ’55, who grew up in the small town of Geneva, N.Y. Sam began his college career playing football at Hartwick College, but when the school dropped its football program, he followed his coach to Norwich and Dom joined him.

Norwich Assistant Commandant Bill Passalacqua ’88’s late father, Sam, and his uncle were the first brothers inducted into Norwich’s Athletic Hall of Fame for football. “They were honored during my sophomore year in 1985, so it was a memorable and proud moment,” he says. 
Bill’s two oldest brothers, Sam Jr. ’78 and Gary ’79, also attended Norwich and were attracted to football as well. His sisters, Ramona Passalacqua VC’78 and Terri Passalacqua VC’79, attended Vermont College of Norwich University.

“I heard my father, uncle, and brothers talk about how special the Wick was, so I thought I’d follow in their footsteps,” Bill says. “Norwich transformed me. I found that the commonality of the experience transcends generations: We all had to be followers, walk the gutter, stand in morning formation in all types of weather, move at a rapid pace, be led by our peers, be accountable, have our rooms squared away and our gig line straight, and, eventually, be leaders.”

Jerry DuChêne Malpere Passalacqua ’15 (Bill’s adopted son) earned a psychology degree and works with traumatized youth at a residential home in Berlin, Vt., for Washington County Mental Health. Growing up in Northfield, Jerry chose Norwich for its traditions. “I remember looking at my dad’s and grandfather’s big class rings and I wanted one myself,” Jerry says. “The military aspect of the school also was familiar as my biological father was a Marine and a graduate of Norwich (Gerald DuChêne Jr. ’92 died when Jerry was two), and my dad and grandfather served in the Army. As a rook, all you can do is clean your room, work out, or study, so you develop habits that help you throughout life. To this day when my mom visits me she is blown away by how clean my apartment is and I think she pats herself on the back that I got so much out of my education,” he says with a smile.

As for all the others in the Passalacqua family, there is Heidi’s father Col. Michael Krause ’64, USA (Ret.); Bill and Heidi’s daughter Julia Passalacqua, a high school senior now taking classes; Joseph ’13 (Gary’s son); cousin Pat “Patsy” ’71, who also was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for football and lacrosse; and Jennifer ’15, Ramona’s daughter.

“Being from a small town and going to a place so far away from home at that time in my life was challenging,” said Gary ’79, who graduated with a degree in business administration. “But the experience with the Corps really helped point me in the right direction.”

Bill concurs and said that his training gave him the opportunity to step into leadership roles. “I learned to get things accomplished … to enforce the standards,” he says. “And along the way I learned a lot about myself, the challenges of leadership, and how to build relationships and approach others in a respectful way to make corrections, get their support, and build consensus. Being part of that almost 200-year-old tradition is special, and I think that every one of my family members would agree.”