Check out Dr. Rich Panelli and his family featured in this month’s The Good Life magazine!
When Dr. Rich Panelli talks about his childhood and family, his face lights up. He shared, “My dad, Rick, passed away in 2018 after battling cancer for 20 years. He was a huge influence in my life. He was stationed in South Korea in the Air Force and when he returned to Reno,
he opened an Italian restaurant, Spaughi’s, with my mom.”
Spaughi’s, a play on Rick’s childhood nickname, “Spaghetti Boy” also served as Panelli’s part-time, childhood home. “We lived at the restaurant, and after it would close, they had Late Night Jazz. So, people from Harrah’s who had just performed that night would come over. I was eight years old, watching people like Sammy Davis, Jr. playing with Diana Ross in this tiny room,” he said.
Panelli’s mother Mary, a former archaeologist, led the Donner Party excavation team; and spent time as an instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno. She later volunteered with the Red Cross in Lake Charles, LA, following Hurricane Katrina.
“My childhood was interesting and exciting,” Panelli said. “My parents have always been a major part of my life; my dad until his passing, and my mom and stepdad (Tom), still.”
Panelli is a third-generation Reno native. He graduated from Utah State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communicative disorders. While attending school at Utah State, Panelli participated in track as a Division I athlete, from 1996 to 1999. In 2002, he graduated from the University of Utah with a Master of Science in audiology. He completed an internship at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002.
Panelli returned to Reno after college, and shortly after joined LIGA International: The Flying Doctors of Mercy. He volunteered in six clinics for hearing impaired children in Sinaloa, Mexico, between November 2004 and June 2006. The following year, Governor Jim Gibbons appointed Panelli to serve on the Nevada State Hearing Aid Specialists Licensing Board. In March 2009, Panelli graduated from A. T. Stills University, Arizona: School of Health Sciences, earning a Doctorate degree in audiology.
Panelli continues his volunteer work in Reno. He has been a guest lecturer at UNR’s School of Medicine, and he supports many charitable organizations, including Rain Shadow Charter School, The Holland Project, The Evelyn
Mount Foundation, C.A.R.E. Chest of Northern Nevada, and Koinonia Foster Homes.
Panelli holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is a member of that organization. He also is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.
“I enjoy the ENT aspect of my job because you get to see
so many different things. There’s anything from vertigo and ringing in the ears, to hearing tests on kids, assessing sudden hearing loss, and brainstem testing,” said Panelli, who works at Nevada ENT and Hearing Associates. “In a sense, it’s like an emergency room for audiology because you never know exactly who is going to walk in the door.
Panelli’s dedication to his profession is evident, but it is family that inspires him, most.
“I was born on my dad’s birthday and he was born on his dad’s birthday. My dad always used to tell this story about my grandmother who came into the family restaurant over a year before I was born to share some exciting news,” Panelli remembered. “It was a super busy night, but she dragged my dad into the back room to tell him that he was going to have a son.” She told Panelli’s father that the child would be born on his birthday. “He asked how she knew
and she only said, ‘I had visitors.’ Three days later she suddenly died.”
Panelli is married to Jill, a former journalist and dance teacher. They met when they were kids, through Panelli’s cousin, Maria, who was Jill’s childhood best friend. Panelli was at the University of Utah when his cousin stopped for the night, on her way to grad
school. Jill was traveling with her, and that’s when they became reacquainted. “We’ve basically never looked back,” said Panelli. Jill is a sixth-grade teacher at Billinghurst Middle School. The couple has two sons, Nico, 12, and Rocco, 9. Nico is a multi-sport athlete, just like his dad. “Rocco is the more artistic, imaginative type of kid,” said Panelli. “He writes movie scripts and then acts them out.”
The Panellis enjoy going to movies, working out, and spending time at the family cabin at Lake Tahoe. Panelli said he and Jill best love watching their boys’ sporting and acting events. “Growing up, my dad never missed any of our games or practices, even in hard times. He never missed anything. Jill’s parents were the same way. We are all very family-centered. Faith is also important to us. Really, it’s just about being there for our family and giving our
kids everything we can,” said Panelli, his face lighting up, again. “Our boys are the best.”