Island entrepreneur, yoga master Primo Lombardi dies

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The Island is mourning the loss of Primo Lombardi, shown here in his yoga studio.

Longtime Islander Primo Lombardi died on Monday at the age of 70. Lombardi owned or operated several businesses on Martha’s Vineyard. In 1978, Lombardi opened Papa’s Pizza (now Beetlebung Restaurant) on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs with his wife, Mary. The restaurant became a popular gathering place for families; children enjoyed watching Lombardi toss pizzas behind the counter.

After he sold Papa’s Pizza, Lombardi moved on to run the Chilmark General Store, totaling 25 years at both Island businesses.

In the last part of his life, Lombardi dedicated himself to learning and teaching the practice of Anusara yoga.

“It’s still about stretching,” he told The Times in a 2012 interview. “But before, I was stretching dough.”

In 2009, he went through a yearlong process of becoming a certified yoga instructor, then traveled all over the world teaching yoga with his friend and regular customer, Peter Goodman — they called themselves the “Bliss Brothers.”

He went on to open a yoga studio, Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Center, just a few doors down from his first Circuit Avenue business.

The former pizzamaker told The Times that he didn’t think of teaching and running a yoga studio as work. He sought to continue to be a student of Anusara yoga himself, as well as a teacher.

“It’s heart-oriented yoga,” he says. “It’s about getting in touch with the best part of ourselves. You see the whole, but you look for the good first, rather than have the 2 percent run the 98 percent.”

A celebration of Lombardi’s life will be held at a later date, to be announced.

Memorial donations in his name may be made to Massachusetts General Hospital at giving.massgeneral.org/cancer/donate/; the Cam Neely House, 30 Winter St., 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02108, or camneelyfoundation.org/donate; Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568; or the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557; or the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.