Woonsocket - Peter Vangel, Woonsocket educator and sportsman, died at his home on Harris Avenue, June 11. He was 91.
Vangel was born in the ‘Social District’ of the city in 1926. He was the son of Petro and Alexandria (Bida) Vangel. & often watched his father—on mornings—hoist the American flag atop the Nourse Mill on Clinton St.
A World War II Lieutenant, he graduated as the top marksman from Officers’ Training Camp at Fort Benning, Georgia. Vangel learned to drive when he landed in France and ‘jeeped’ from there to Germany—amid roads strewn with dead casualties of war. He also attended the Nuremburg Trials. & met with Albert Speer, the erudite architect of the Third Reich.
Upon his return home, he pursued a career in public education. Vangel was an alumnus of Rhode Island College and received a C.A.G.S. degree from Boston University.
His specialty: elementary curricula. & within his profession, many of the programs he introduced to the Woonsocket school system are still considered innovative—even visionary. While he was committed in maximizing the potential of education to uplift, transform and free a human being.
His mentor was Woonsocket Superintendent of Schools Edward Condon. With Vangel soon emerging, in his own right, as a leader and dynamic school administrator. Thru-out the city he was known for his talents as a negotiator. & a style that opposing sides found no-nonsense and formidable.
He also served as Superintendent of Schools in Bellingham, MA. In his seventies, he was elected a member of the Woonsocket School Committee.
His high school yearbook describes Vangel as holding either a baseball or basketball in his hand. & had a lifelong love for sports. He was a star guard in basketball and refereed until the age of 60. Vangel was a fierce volleyball spiker and runner.
An active member of the YMCA, he served on the Board of Directors. He esp. admired Hank Aaron as a baseball great, at a time when few people in the local area even knew much about the Atlanta Braves’ outfielder and soon-to-be homerun king.
For most of his life, he was involved in the Woonsocket community. Vangel was a member of the Morning Star Lodge of Free Masons. & proud of the Orthodox faith in his DNA.
He was married for 63 years and is survived by his wife Lillian. & their children: Steven, Elizabeth and John, his grandson Cole and their families.
A funeral and burial service will take place at noon Saturday, June 16—outdoors at Oak Hill Cemetery, 204 Rathbun St., Woonsocket, RI. For more info. re: arrangements, contact: S. DiPardo Memorial Chapel Funeral Home 401. 767.5577.