Dr. Michael A. Parlato Scholarship Fund

Est. 2023 by Tom and Allie Bledsoe.

Dr. Michael A. Parlato

In 1967, after a long and successful career as a physician in Derby, Dr. Michael A. Parlato established a trust in his name at a local bank to help graduating Derby High School students pursuing higher education in college or trade schools. 

Now, thanks to his grandchildren, Tom and Allie Bledsoe, the Dr. Michael A. Parlato Scholarship Fund has a new home at the Valley Community Foundation (VCF), guaranteeing its impact forever. In 2023, the Parlato siblings approved the decision to convert the trust to a scholarship fund at VCF. 

“He really treasured education,” Tom said of his grandfather. “I think he’d be so proud to know that his scholarship is still helping students and that it’s now part of a community foundation.” 

It was Amy Lynch, a Senior Vice President at Bank of America (BOA), that came up with the idea of converting Dr. Parlato’s trust from BOA to VCF.  

“This collaboration between VCF and Bank of America exemplifies the importance of partnerships between financial institutions and community foundations,” said Sharon Closius, President and CEO of VCF. “Large and small financial institutions understand that a community foundation can do an extraordinary job in managing funds and assuring that the donor’s intent is always going to be paramount and met.” 

Dr. Parlato’s roots in Derby run deep. He was a role model and pioneer in both the medical field and in the Valley’s Italian American community. The Parlato family was the first Italian family to immigrate to Derby in 1872, and through hard work and determination carved out a place for themselves in the fabric of the then-booming industrial town. Dr. Parlato’s parents, Antonio and Antonetta, made the sometimes-perilous sea voyage to the United States with very little in their pockets, just hope for a new beginning and better future for their young family. Their long journey from Vico Enquense, Italy, to Derby symbolized the resilience that defined the Italian-American experience in the late 19th and 20th centuries. 

But Dr. Parlato’s story is one of remarkable personal achievements as well. As a trailblazer in the Italian American community, he paved the way and opened doors for other Italian Americans. 

He was the first Italian American boy born in Derby, the first Italian American male to graduate from Derby High, and then in 1908 he became the first Italian American from Derby to graduate from Yale Medical School.  

Throughout his successful medical career, Dr. Parlato served as a distinguished and beloved physician in the Valley and an active participant in Derby’s civic life. From his tenure at Griffin Hospital to his involvement in various organizations and clubs -- including Derby’s board of finance, the Derby Elks, and several medical societies -- his impact in the community resonated beyond his medical practice. 

Although Dr. Parlato passed away in 1980 at the age of 94, his memory and legacy endure through his scholarship and the lives he touched. With the scholarship under the stewardship of VCF, a new chapter is unfolding, Tom said.

“When you sit back and look at all he achieved, especially at that time, it’s truly remarkable,” Tom said. “He’s still an inspiration to our family and we think this scholarship will help inspire others.”

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Dr. Michael A. Parlato Scholarship Fund