Richard R. Vettel of Winthrop, MA, known as Rich, died December 21, 2019, at Massachusetts General Hospital after a three-year battle with complications from a spinal cord injury. He was born on April 14, 1951 in the Bronx, New York, the only child of Raymond R. Vettel and Marie (Bocchieri) Vettel. Rich attended Fordham Prep and Fordham University, graduating with a B.S. in business administration in 1973. Rich was the founder and CEO of UnitechEDI, Inc., a software publishing enterprise. He modeled integrity, honesty and a passion for his customers in all his business dealings.
Rich met his wife and soulmate Niki (Scher) at the Bitterroot Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming, in August, 1989, where Rich, an intuitively talented horseman and Niki, a beginning equestrian, discovered their shared passion for riding horses, and love of “Spin and Marty.” Rich moved to Winthrop, MA in 1991, and Niki and Rich married on the Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in February 1995. Rich would say that his wedding day was the happiest day of his life, and that Niki made every day an adventure.
Rich embraced his adopted city of Boston, and, as he had in his years as a New Yorker, walked miles and miles, exploring the history and looking for the next incredible eating adventure. In addition to riding, walking, and eating great food, Rich loved the guitar. He played from the time he was 12, forming groups and eventually playing lead guitar with and managing Jason Exit, a popular band in the Bronx and environs during the 1970’s. His love of music propelled him to becoming a booking agent and eventually founding the newspaper Musicians Classified, before he turned his attention to computing. A born entrepreneur, Rich holds the patent on a guitar strap lock he invented at age 19. His entrepreneurial spirit was a constant, and his inventions and improvements included computer software, hardware safeguards and guitar pedals.
Rich continued to play guitar until his final days; his great joy was collaborating with his dear friend Jerry Twomey on Beatles tunes. Known privately as “the stunada brothers,” they brought musical happiness to patients at the various care facilities and hospital floors that Rich occupied during his rehabilitation. Sustained by formidable food cooked by Sandra Curzi, Jerry’s wife, they ate and sang their way through Boston. Rich’s culinary adventures were not limited to the U.S.; along with great friends Patricia and John Nelson, the foursome, dubbed “The Provençal Pals,” enjoyed a memorable trip through Provence, eating and laughing their way through that remarkable countryside.
Rich delighted in all things Irish, and his favorite holiday was St. Patrick’s Day: for many years, Rich rode a beautiful horse down Fifth Avenue in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as part of the Ladies and Gentlemen’s Equestrian Unit. Normally shy and reserved Rich would wave wildly to an adoring crowd, especially when he rode the magnificent palomino, Amadeus. He enthusiastically supported his wife’s PBS productions, of which she was an executive producer, and was Perry Como’s favorite companion in Dublin during the taping of “Perry Como’s Irish Christmas.” Additionally, he played an important role in the tapings of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s PBS specials, as the official show “timer.” Her proud champion, Rich made Niki’s second career as a mental health clinician possible with his unwavering love and encouragement.
He was an ardent supporter of Winthrop restaurants, the Ferry, the Winthrop Playmakers, and was thrilled to play in the pit band for their presentation of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He was committed heart and soul to Niki; living on the water in Winthrop, MA was a dream come true for both of them.
Rich is survived by Niki, his devoted wife; his beloved aunt Rose Bocchieri Zarba, the extended Zarba family of cousins, nephews and nieces; his goddaughters Christine (Thomas) Roussel, Ed, Eddie, Luke and Abby Roussel; and Katie Thomas. He leaves behind friends who loved his dry wit and caring nature, and a legacy as a gentle soul, grateful to everyone who he met on his life journey. “We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; we are Spiritual beings, having human experiences.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)
A Life Celebration will be held later in January.
Donations in Rich Vettel’s name may be made to the Greater Boston Chapter of United Spinal Cord Association, www.sciboston.org.
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