2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor awarded to Golden Beach resident

Jun 17, 2008

Miami Herald, 6/17/2008

Golden Beach resident Richard Parrillo Sr. was one of 100 people to receive the 2008 Ellis Island Medal of Honor during a May 15 ceremony in New York.

Created in 1986 by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the awards recognize American citizens of diverse origins for their contributions to their communities, the nation and the world. Recipients are listed in the Congressional Record.

Past honorees include U.S. presidents, Nobel Prize winners, athletes and others, including Gen. Colin Powell, Muhammad Ali, Diane Sawyer and Lee Iacocca. Parrillo, 69, a Chicago native, moved to Aventura in 1990 and to Golden Beach in 2004. He is founder and CEO of United Automobile Insurance Co., based in Miami Gardens.

Parrillo is former chairman of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian-Americans, a Chicago-based nonprofit group made up of 65 Italian-American organizations dedicated to preserving Italian-American heritage. He and his more than 700 employees support many local charities, including Miami Children’s Hospital and the Boys Club of Broward County.

Parrillo attended the awards ceremony in the great hall of Ellis Island with his wife, Michaela, and four of his five children. The event featured music from all four branches of the military, a fireworks display and a ferry ride across New York Harbor.

”It was incredible to be among the caliber of people at the ceremony,” Parrillo said. ”It was an unbelievable ceremony.”

Other 2008 award-winners included actor Gary Sinise; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Duncan J. McNabb; Louis Zamperini, a World War II veteran, Olympian and motivational speaker; and human rights activist Jacqueline Murekatete.