Beloved son, father, husband and iconic Burlington businessman was born May 30, 1937 - the son of Louis and Victoria (Falco) Bove. He received his education in the Burlington area at Converse School, Cathedral High School and Champlain College. Schools, however, were not the only place that Dick Bove learned…
On December 7, 1941 when little Dicky was only 4 years of age, his parents opened Bove’s Café at 68 Pearl Street in a neighborhood flush with Italian Americans who made their home in Burlington’s downtown. It would forever affect Dick’s life from an early age on. The hard-working Bove, who even made his home over the restaurant during those early days, was an inspiration for countless others as he successfully grew the family operated establishment.
In 1961 Dick married Josephine Bernardini. The couple, proud residents of Ward 1 in Burlington for 43 years, had two sons – Rick and Mark.
While not a politician per se, Dick’s old North End notoriety and fame from operating the popular Burlington eatery afforded him the ability to be extremely influential in local politics. While not one simply to cause a stir about himself, when it was necessary to take a stance on an issue – such as the local city government being more transparent – Dick was fearless, and found no problem in speaking up. He was instrumental in the 1981 mayoral race in Burlington to cause a split vote and give a 10-vote edge to a relative newcomer by the name of Bernie Sanders. Dick proudly wore the experience like a badge of honor, and followed Bernie’s recent campaign knowing all along his small yet significant contribution to the presidential candidate’s history.
Dick amassed a long list of accomplishments as a public servant in his hometown of Burlington. He was the youngest Alderman elected in his day. He served in the Vermont Air National Guard for 6 years. Dick was a staunch supporter of the church. He enjoyed directing the televised Roman Catholic Diocese Sunday mass with his brother in law – Ralph Bernardini, Jr for twelve years, and stayed supportive of the Sunday mass for two decades. Dick was a member of the Cathedral Parish. He served 2 terms of the Burlington City’s Fire Commission, one term on the Ordnance Committee, and was impressively a full delegate member to the Democratic Convention for Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976. Dick was a Past Exalted Ruler and Past District Deputy of the National Elks Association.
While Dick amassed a substantial amount of support for the Burlington community he called home, the most impressive mark that Dick Bove made – and what he will never be forgotten for - was his 65 years of work at the Bove’s family business. Dick and Josephine took over the family café as the second generation to carry on the Bove’s family tradition. A tradition that Dick was quite steeped in, having started to work at the historical establishment when he was just 13 years of age. His decades in the kitchen and behind the counter at the café positioned him as a cultural icon earning admiration and respect from decades of other business owners, college students and Burlington residents at large. His worth ethic was legendary, as impressive at the Italian foods his family continued to churn out and parlay into a respectable packaged foods business today. Dick’s presence in his white apron with mussed grey hair at the side door of the iconic Burlington eatery will go on in Bove’s fans’ memories. Whether ladling out the signature sauce that he had such an expertise for, or meeting fans as they were shuttled through the narrow counters and the side door, Dick became the beloved Italian father for decades of hungry visitors, college students and a friend to so many Burlington residents.
And while his business is where he left his mark, with Dick there would have been no business without family. Dick was always proud of his family’s hard work and of his sons, both graduates of the University of Vermont, and of the connection to the Green Mountain State. He enjoyed spending time with his family at their summer camp when he took the occasional break from simmering sauce.
Dick passed away at the age of 79 on Friday, February 12, 2016 surrounded by those same family members that he cherished so greatly. He leaves his wife of 54 years, Josey, his sons Rick and his wife Maribel Barrria and Mark, his wife Ani Barria, and their daughter Victoria who was named after Dick’s mother.
A Mass to celebrate Dick Bove’s life will be Monday, February 15th at 11 am at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, located at 20 Pine Street in Burlington, Vermont. Arrangements are under the care of LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service. Condolences may be shared at lavignefuneralhome.com.