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Greenwich's Oliver Pacchiana, 20, Dies While Studying Abroad

Greenwich resident Oliver Pacchiana, 20, died on Easter Sunday.
Greenwich resident Oliver Pacchiana, 20, died on Easter Sunday. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, CONN. – Oliver Pacchiana, a 2010 graduate of Greenwich High School, was killed in a rock climbing accident on Sunday in Namibia, Africa, where he was spending a semester abroad as a junior at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pacchiana, 20, was a skilled chess player, an athlete, and a musician. He was Connecticut State Chess Champion while in fourth grade and New England Chess Champion in fifth grade. As a student at Western Middle School, he participated in the National Geographic Geography Bee and finished fourth in Connecticut. He also represented the school in the Connecticut State Finals in Mathematics. In high school, he was a member of We The People debating team and advanced to the finals in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

He was studying mechanical engineering at Penn and had been accepted into the Masters program. He played the sousaphone in the U-Penn marching band and was president of the Penn Electric Racing Team.

Pacchiana was involved in scouting from an early age, had attended various Boy Scout Jamborees, including the World Scout Jamboree in England in 2007. He also had the rare opportunity of attending the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout before he went to college.

His interest in geography and foreign cultures drew him to other parts of the world whenever he had an opportunity. En route to Africa, he traveled through parts of the Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia. As a child he spent some time in Japan.

As a young teen he visited Rome and Venice, where he managed to walk or run across every bridge he could find. He was a communicant at St. Paul’s Church in Greenwich, spending a number of years as an altar boy. When he was in Rome he had the unique opportunity of attending mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pacchiana is survived by his parents, Elaine and Douglas Pacchiana of Greenwich, his brother, Nolan, of Brooklyn, his grandmothers and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins.

A memorial mass will be celebrated at St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, 84 Sherwood Avenue, Greenwich, on Saturday, April 6 at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception at the Seton Scout Reservation, 363 Riversville Road, Greenwich.

A memorial service will also be celebrated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Monday.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Camping Scholarship Fund of Troop 35, Greenwich Council of the Boy Scouts of America, c/o Mary Machnicki, 10 Hickory Drive, Greenwich, CT 06831.

The author of this report is Oliver Pacchiana's aunt.

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