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Deacon Massanelli known as House parliamentarian

Published: February 23, 2018   

Deacon Garland E. “Tim” Massanelli, who served as House parliamentarian for almost 40 years but considered his service to the Church “a highlight of my life,” died Feb. 12. He was 85.

Born Jan. 6, 1933, in Goat Shed (Lincoln County) to Evo and Cesira Massanelli, he grew up on a farm in Pine Bluff. He graduated from Annunciation Academy and Pine Bluff High School. He attended Drury University in Springfield before returning to Arkansas to manage the family farm after his father became ill.

Massanelli went on to own several businesses and served as president of Wilcox Amusement Co. and vice president of Holsum Baking Company in Pine Bluff. He was also board member of Jefferson Regional Medical Center and Rosswood Country Club. He was a member of St. Joseph Church in Pine Bluff for many years, serving on budget and finance committees as well as grand knight of the Knight of Columbus, Knights of Columbus state secretary and faithful navigator of the Fourth Degree.

He began working at the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1973 and became parliamentarian in 1975. According to his Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obituary, he served for 38 years with 19 speakers, seven governors and more than 1,000 House members.

He told Arkansas Catholic in January 2012, “I’m devoted. I spent my life there. I know the rules. I know what they are. I wrote most of them, and they know that. That goes a long way with them respecting what you tell them.”

In 1981, Massanelli was ordained to the diaconate and served at St. Joseph Church and later at Our Lady of the Holy Souls in Little Rock. With his expertise in the legislature, he helped advise the late Bishop Andrew J. McDonald on legislation related to Catholic social teaching, according to the 2012 Arkansas Catholic article.

He is survived by his wife Dorothy “Dottie” Massanelli; three sons, Steve Massanelli of Pine Bluff, Chip Massanelli of North Little Rock and Randy Massanelli of Fayetteville; three sisters, Elizabeth Smith of Springdale, Helen Langlinais of Houston, Texas, and Linda Smith of Springdale; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A visitation and rosary were held Feb. 15. A Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church was held Feb. 16.

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