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I am grateful for the help that I received while going to law school.

Bob Parenti, '51, and Laurie Parenti

 Living a robust life is what it’s all about for Bob Parenti, ’51. Giving back to MSU College of Law through a charitable gift annuity is his way to help other veterans pursue law degrees.

“I was so pleased to help other veterans as a way of giving back. I am grateful for the help that I received while going to law school,” he said. “I went to law school on the G.I. Bill and had financial concerns since I was married and our son, Robert Jr., was born during my first year of law school.”

The multifaceted Parenti is a romantic at heart who also enjoys writing. His book, A Story of Love and War, portrays his experience as a World War II soldier through the letters he sent to his girlfriend, Laurie, who became his wife in 1946.

Unbeknownst to him, Laurie kept those letters safely tucked away in a large box, which he discovered in 2001. Parenti realized his letters held interest as they reported on his life as a soldier and provided a diversion from the daily grind and horrors of war. “I had the luck of the soldier,” he said. “I was lucky to have survived the war.” He contributed the proceeds of the book, which also became a 30-minute documentary, to war memorial initiatives in public parks.

Parenti worked in private practice in Michigan for 30 years and for five years in Florida. He capped his career by joining forces with Willie Gary—senior partner of Gary, Williams, Finney, Lewis, Watson & Sperando—to become the first Caucasian partner in a leading African American firm.

Parenti is now of counsel at the Gary law firm, assessing the merits of new cases. His newest book, Giant Killers, details some of the firm’s cases, including a $500 million verdict against a Canadian conglomerate attempting to monopolize the funeral home business in Mississippi, and a suit by the family of baseball legend Roger Maris against Anheuser-Busch, Inc., for breach of a lucrative Budweiser beer distributorship contract.

In their years of marriage, the Parentis have raised three accomplished children and have several grandchildren. Bob still relishes being a go-getter with a sharp lawyer’s mind who follows his interests and cherishes his marriage to Laurie, whom he describes as “the love of my life.” Some might call it luck, but such luck sure takes a lot of effort.

The Parentis’ future gift to the Law College will provide financial assistance for students who are veterans. Their gift is set up as a one-life charitable gift annuity, providing Laurie with a fixed and guaranteed stream of income for the rest of her life. At Laurie’s death, the balance of the gift will be directed to the Law College for the veteran’s clinic program. Charitable gift annuities qualify for a tax deduction in the year in which the gift annuity is established, and much of the annual income may be received tax-free.

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A version of this profile originally appeared in the fall 2010 issue of Amicus, published by the MSU College of Law.


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