A man who played a significant role in the cultural life of Sooke has died.
Services for Salvatore (Sam) Pasta, 78, took place at McCalls Garden on Jan. 15 when southern Vancouver Island was blanketed in snow.
It was in 1980 when the Pasta family – three generations – moved to Sooke, where Sam opened a hair salon, Salvatores, in Evergreen Centre.
Born in 1941 in Villagrazia, Italy, to Giovanna and Francesco Pasta, Sam and his siblings were youngsters when the family immigrated first to Winnipeg. When he met Carolina Cantafio through his church, the couple married and decided to head for the milder West Coast climate.
Carol worked with Sam in the hair salon, but also took time out to raise their three children.
It didn’t take long before Sam met a group of friendly Sooke folk who had formed StageWest Players, and when they connected, his contributions were invaluable.
“I first met Sam after we had just formed Stage West Players and were searching for talent to be in our inaugural play. Well, we certainly found that talent in Sam. Not only was he a great singer and actor, he also worked in many aspects of that and future productions,” recalled Mike Thomas, a group member.
“Sam was a tireless worker for StageWest and would take on any task that was asked of him. I think that one of the biggest impacts that he made for Sooke theatre was his role in the musical “Grease.” His calm and professional presence went a long way in making the younger cast members comfortable which helped bring out the best in them.
“Another benefit of having Sam on the team was that he brought along his lovely wife Carol and daughter Jeanette as workers and supporters of Sooke theatre. Sam was not one to run around shouting me, me, however to those of us who knew what went on behind the scenes we know that it was Sam who carried the ball a lot of times to help us cross the finish line for yet, another successful production.”
One of my own fun memories of Sam was the occasion when Sooke was organizing a pageant in the theatre at EMCS to celebrate B.C.’s history, and Sam came up with a wonderful idea. Garbed in a cassock, Sam came walking down the aisle in the theatre dressed as the Pope, offering benedictions right and left along his way. His act brought down the house.
Sam was also a member of the Victoria Barbershop Chorus, the Victoria Operatic Society, and of Sooke’s Masonic Lodge. He and Carol were always there when needed.
Eventually, the couple was ready to retire and try condo living, and though they found a new home on Portage Inlet, their hearts remained in Sooke as well. Besides his wife Carol, Sam leaves behind daughter Jett (Bert), sons Ryan (Daniela) and Stefan, two grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, sister Josie Masi and brothers Victor and Joe.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.