Michael Vecchio playing his cherry Guild Starfire at a family Christmas gathering in 2014. (Connie Vecchio photo)

Michael Vecchio playing his cherry Guild Starfire at a family Christmas gathering in 2014. (Connie Vecchio photo)

Kelowna woman seeks missing guitar that helped Castlegar dad with dementia be ‘himself again’

Connie Vecchio says the vintage guitar has gone missing from her father’s Castlegar care home

An instrument can mean the world to the musician who plays it.

For one B.C. woman, a vintage cherry red Guild Starfire was a reminder of the man her father used to be. But now, that guitar, and the connection it revived, has gone missing.

Michael Vecchio struggles with dementia. Two years ago, the now-75-year-old asked his daughter Connie Vecchio to bring his prized guitar, which he’d owned for almost 50 years, to his Castlegar care home, Talarico Place.

Connie, who lives in Kelowna, did so without hesitation. Michael would pick up the guitar to play during subsequent visits, and Connie said he’d become “himself again.”

“He sees the guitar… And then he’d sort of start bobbing his head, and before we know it, we’re in a moment,” Connie said.

The last time Connie visited her father in his room was February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic changed visitation protocols. The guitar sat on a stand in the corner of his room beside two amplifiers.

Care home staff recently informed Connie they couldn’t find the guitar. Checking a basement storage area, staff located the amps and the stand, but no trace of the guitar.

Not knowing what to do, Connie posted her story to Facebook. She said the community response has been immense, with people even offering to give Michael a new guitar. But, “unless it’s a cherry Guild Starfire,” Connie said it just wouldn’t be the same.

“That’s the guitar,” she said. “… It’s that thing that brings somebody back.”

* VINTAGE GUILD STARFIRE GUITAR MISSING FROM CARE HOME IN CASTLEGAR *
RCMP FILE # 2021-719

Thank you to the community…

Posted by Connie Vecchio on Thursday, March 11, 2021

Michael bought the guitar in the ’70s off of Nick Keraiff — better known as Buddy Marr, the frontman of a popular Kootenay band called the Versatiles. Ever since then, he’s kept the guitar in impeccable shape. Guitars of a similar ilk have been listed in online marketplaces for more than $2,000.

Connie has filed a police report and is offering a no-questions-asked $1,000 reward for the guitar’s safe return. Those with information can reach out to Connie on Facebook or the guitar can be dropped off at Johnny’s Gas in Robson, B.C., which is owned by one of Michael’s friends.

“I’m so hopeful somebody will just return it to my dad and help him have some happy moments in his last chapter.”

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Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


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