Following my graduation from Xavier, I attended Boston University where I met my wife to be, Lesa, on the first day of school. Truth be told, she did not like me at all in the beginning. As some of my Xavier classmates may recall, I could never believe that any woman could resist my charms for long, and so I continued to pursue her, and we were married by sophomore year. Our first child, Scott, quickly followed which required that I get a job, and continue my college education at BU’s evening program, graduating in 1971. We had two more children, Jonathan and Jessica in 1969 and 1972 respectively.
I began my working career in 1968 as a clerk in John Hancock’s Group Pension Administration Department. This was a was a wake-up call for me as I learned no matter how smart I was, without a college degree I had to start at the bottom. I worked hard to prove myself, and fortunately I got noticed which lead to my being able to join the International Group Department in 1971 which was a start up at the time that helped multinational companies manage international employee benefits for their overseas subsidiaries utilizing a reinsurance network of some of the world’s leading life insurance companies. I began as a Sales Associate, and rose through the ranks to become the Vice President and Department Head in 1985. By this time, John Hancock decided to make direct investments internationally by acquiring life insurance companies in South East Asia.
In 1994, Lesa realized that her first impressions of me were right on and so we were divorced, although we still remain best friends today. Needing a change in environment, I told my boss that I would be open to a foreign assignment, and as luck would have it, an opportunity to become the acting President & CEO of John Hancock Life Assurance Co. Ltd., in Singapore arose when the incumbent resigned unexpectedly. This 3-month temporary assignment turned into almost a year while the search went on for the permanent CEO, and during this time, an opportunity arose for me to be the Managing Director & CEO of Interlife John Hancock Assurance Co. Ltd. in Bangkok Thailand. I completed this assignment at the end of 1998, and returned to the WHQ to take up what I thought was a dream job of spearheading the distribution of John Hancock’s Mutual Funds outside of the USA. Unfortunately, within a year, there was a need to significantly improve profitability quickly which in the life insurance industry can only be done by reducing expenses. Since my department was all expense and no income, it was at the top of everyone’s list to shut down.
I had completed 30 years of service by this time, and so I was able to take an early retirement. I was head-hunted by New York Life to become President Director of its joint venture company in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I joined them in 2000. This was great for the first year or so, but after 9/11, a fair amount of anti-USA sentiment developed making me uncomfortable. I decided in 2002 that I wanted to return to Thailand, and do my own business so I could not be transferred again. After some research, I decided to start up Subway Sandwiches in Thailand, opening the first store, and then being Subway’s Development Agent which is similar to being a Master Franchisor for Thailand. Despite enduring two military coup d'états which killed investor confidence, we managed to grow the number of stores to 65 in 10 cities owned by 25 franchisees from 2003-2015 when I sold my territory, and I joined the ranks of the happily retired people on January 1, 2016.
While my life has been filled mostly with very rewarding jobs and experiences that literally allowed me to see the world, I have faced two major negative periods. The first was my previously mentioned divorce, and the second was the accidental death of my son, Jonathan in 1996 at age 27. To end on a more positive note, Scott and Jessica have had successful careers of their own, and they have blessed me with a total of 6 grandchildren with whom I plan to spend lots more time now that I am retired.
6 Island Drive/P.O. Box 1080
Belmont, NH 03220
Home 603-528-1880, Cell 603-290-4087
Heritage Condominium #5B
Sukhumvit Soi 8, Bangkok 10110 Thailand
Highlights of the Past Fifty Years 1966 – 2016
Raised in Lexington and Watertown, MA, I was very fortunate to reap the rewards of eight straight years of a Jesuit education. After graduating from Xavier High School in 1966, I attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, followed by studies leading to an MBA at Western New England University in Wilbraham, MA. Although I originally had aspirations to become a dentist, I caught the flying bug early in life and took my first pilot lesson in 1968. While enrolled in the Holy Cross Navy ROTC program, I applied and was accepted to Navy flight training and earned my wings of gold in 1971.
In 1972, I was assigned to VP-24, a submarine patrol squadron based in Jacksonville, FL with frequent deployments to Keflavik, Iceland. As a P3-C Orion mission commander, I was assigned to a special project crew designated by the Chief of Naval Operations conducting extensive top-secret anti-submarine warfare missions throughout the North Atlantic in search of the elusive Soviet submarine fleet, (as in The Hunt for Red October). Later I would be assigned to VP-30, also in Jacksonville, VP-92 in South Weymouth, MA and to the US Naval Academy. As a Naval Academy Liaison Officer, I reported directly to the USNA Director of Candidate Guidance, was responsible for screening, interviewing and counseling prospective USNA candidates and was a member of congressional and senatorial nomination boards. While at my other two squadrons, my duties and responsibilities included Operations Officer (Department Head), Safety/NATOPS Officer, P3 Aircraft Systems Instructor, P3 Aircraft Commander, NATOPS Check Pilot, Simulator Instructor, Maintenance Test Pilot, Personnel Officer, and Nuclear Weapons Training Officer. In 1991, after 21 years of combined active duty and reserve service, I retired from the Navy as a Commander (O-5)
In 1977, I was hired as a pilot for Braniff Airways and in 1982 by US Airways where I flew until 2013, retiring after 31 years. During my career, I flew the B727, DC-8, DC-9, MD-80, B737 and the Airbus A319, 320 and 321 as a domestic and international line captain flying routes in the US, Canada, Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. I retired as a B767 captain and my final flight for US Airways was in September, 2013. After one year of retirement, I was contacted by JetBlue and now work part-time as a contract maintenance and test pilot for the airline flying the Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. To date, I have logged over 30,000 flight hours in a combined civilian, military and airline aviation career spanning almost 48 years.
Other accomplishments and diversions in my life since Xavier include founding Airlinecareer.com, a website dedicated to helping men and women become flight attendants. It has a newsletter subscriber base of 90,000 people in 100 countries. I also performed stand-up comedy for a number of years and made appearances throughout the country as a Jack Nicholson look-alike. Most recently my son and I are developing ideas for several comedy screenplays, the first of which has just been completed. Other interests include travel, computer technology, the New England Patriots (season ticket holder for 33 years) and family functions with my 97-year old mother, son, daughter and two teenage granddaughters at my homes in Harvard, MA and Indialantic, FL where I live with my childhood sweetheart, Carole Lynne. We met at a play when I was a sophomore at Xavier, and we'll celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary in 2016.
As for the low points in my life, there are a few: The Braniff Airways bankruptcy and shutdown in 1982, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which changed the airline industry forever, the death of my father in 2008 and the loss of many loved ones and friends. On a brighter side, the highs in my life include the births of my children and grandchildren, and my achievements as a military and airline pilot where I always strived to keep my crew and passengers safe and secure at all times. When I retired from US Airways in 2013, I was very surprised to receive a personal letter from Rev. Phillip Boroughs, S. J., President of Holy Cross, congratulating me on my retirement. It was a wonderful letter stating “In the words of Leonardo Da Vinci ‘Who sows virtue reaps honor.’ You have embodied the Jesuit philosophy of the magis, the aspiration to give more in the service of humankind and the greater glory of God.” I was humbled by the letter, but it gave me the realization that the values and attributes instilled in me by the Jesuits at Xavier and then Holy Cross prepared me immensely for this fulfilling journey through the last 50 years.
Addendum: Joe also included this document, which is part of "The Minutemen of VP-92: The Story of New England's Naval Air Patrol Squadron". In it he describes his unorthodox job interview with Braniff Airlines. It's a great story, click here to see the file: The Job Interview
Joe Belotti, Jr.
339 Littleton Road
Harvard, MA 01451
Memories of Xavier. Waiting for the buses the day JFK was killed. Moriarty’s Latin classes. Mr. Micciche our history teachee (Abigail Beecher our history teacher – get it). Dick Murphy’s history classes. The long bus rides to and from Wellesley.
Like a number of others, I went on to Holy Cross. I majored in History, and various kinds of student activism and anti-war work. Shawn Donovan and I were roommates for our Junior and Senior years. Shawn more or less disappeared for the last months of our senior year – read his bio and you will find out why. One of our last joint activities was driving down to Xavier to attend the student parent meeting on the decision to close Xavier.
From the Cross in Worcester I went on to the University of Iowa in Iowa City for graduate work in History. While there I applied for and got Conscientious Objector status. I kept doing anti-war work in Iowa and somehow got involved in union organizing. The goal was to organize graduate assistants (we failed) – but in the process I got to meet people organizing support staff at the UI. I then split my time between my courses, teaching assistant work and volunteer union organizing.
In early 1974, I was offered the chance to go to work for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Minnesota. I took the plunge – and have spent these next 42 years working for or consulting for AFSCME in Minnesota. I rose to be the Executive Director in 1982. Council 6 represented workers of the State of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota. I was the chief negotiator for the state employee contracts and the lead staff for the Council. High points (at least from how I view the world) include: helping lead 2 statewide state employee strikes (1981 and 2001), winning legislation for and then implementing pay equity for female workers in state government and later in all of Minnesota’s public sector (1980s), and helping to organize clerical and technical workers at the University of Minnesota (1990s). I retired from Council 6 at the end of 2004 – but have stayed connected to the labor movement as a consultant on health care and public policy for AFSCME and other labor unions in the state.
Oh – and most important of all – that is where I met my wife. In 1989, I married Mary Gorz – a rank and file leader of state clerical workers. We are still together – almost 27 years later. During that time Mary became an IT Supervisor and then an IT Manager in various state agencies. We had our one and only kid in 1991. Patrick will graduate this June with a Masters of Public Health from Drexel University in Philadelphia.
In 1992, I was elected to be a member of the AFSCME National Union’s Executive Board – a post I held until 2006. Mary, among all the other things she does, is the Board Chair of the Minnesota State Retirement System (the pension plan for State and University employees in Minnesota).
As part of by work with AFSMCE, I was the lead union negotiator for health insurance benefits for state workers. I found I really liked the subject. I became the lead labor union health care person in the state and was appointed to health reform commissions by DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor) Governor Perpich in 1989, by Republican Governor Carlson in 1991, by Republican US Senator Dave Durenberger in 2004, by Republican Governor Pawlenty in 2007, and by DFL Governor Dayton in 2011.
In 2013, I was appointed by Governor Dayton to be a board member of MNsure, Minnesota’s Health Insurance Exchange. I currently serve as Board Chair.
When my dad died in June 1992, I had been gone from Massachusetts for over 20 years and had made no efforts to stay in touch with people. When Jim Sheehan and Jim O’Brien showed up – I was blown away. We did not get to talk for long – but their presence was the most important part of the night for me. We still do Xmas cards with O’Brien.
Through Facebook – I had reestablished contact with Shawn Donovan and Frank Catania and just friended Peter Nolan last week.
7650 Cahill Avenue
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
As I sit here to write my bio, as ordered by Charlie Hegarty, I can’t help but wonder what I'm going to say that could compare with the amazing bios of my classmates.
My four years at Xavier were far and away the best years of my life. (Father O’Brien always gets a laugh when I say that in the presence of my wife). During those four years, I met so many great men, many of whom have remained close to me. I still golf with Fatty Curran, Mike Harrington, Paul Rossi and Breck Hosmer, and of course number one in the class: Mike Allen. (Sorry Mike McFarland).
This may sound sacrilegious, but to me the Holy Trinity was Charlie Hegarty, Long John Murphy, and Jack Leonard. They were, by far, the three most influential men in my life. And we were not always holy: I remember skating with Long John and Charlie at Weston College. During a break in our hockey game, while sitting around a small campfire, Charlie offered Mark McKenna and me a cigarette. (But only if we promised not to tell our parents). That's the day I became a man: smoking butts with my friend and teacher. I learned a lot in those four short years.
In 1966, it was off to Boston college. College was a very big letdown for me, as I was no longer a big fish in a small pond. Can't say I learned much during this time either.
After Boston College I took my MBA from Suffolk University. Then it was off to Fort Dix, New Jersey to begin my military service in the Army National Guard. Upon returning home, my dad died suddenly in 1971. Tony Martignetti was as sad as I was. Tony loved my dad, loved that he was an FBI agent, that he carried a gun, and was expert in weapons and self-defense. Tony loved to spar with him using his karate moves but my Dad always got the better of him.
In 1972, I married my long time sweetheart, Judy. This was arguably my greatest achievement, as everything I have achieved since is because of her. Judy was the oldest daughter of Christopher A. Iannella, long time president of the Boston City Council, and the most honorable man I have ever met. Judy blessed me with my two great children, Alexa and Chris, who, in turn, have brought me five grandchildren, all of whom live just around the corner from me.
Judy is a very successful real estate broker and provides well for me in my retirement. So I guess it's fair to say that, for me, I've done pretty well.
In 1974, I purchased my first liquor store in Bedford, Massachusetts. During those early years, after moving back to Concord, I spent my free time playing fast pitch softball. However, my liver and legs gave out, and I moved onto golf. I can still manage to get around the golf course without hurting myself, and I'm a scratch in the nineteenth hole. Recently, I have learned that Breck and Nels, also good golfers, excel in the bar at the nineteenth hole!
In the 1980's, I acquired two more liquor stores, and pretty much focused on work. Then, around 2007, I reconnected with Tony Martignetti. He would visit me at my Concord store and we would discuss his about to be published book Lunatic Heroes. He invited me to his book launch in Lexington, where I ran into Charlie Hegarty. Charlie had driven up from Cape Cod to attend and was I surprised to see him. When I asked Charlie how he knew about the book he informed me that he had already read it! TWICE!
When my baby sister died in 2009 at age 54 I was broken hearted. Tony came by the store all the time to help me with the grief. I can't tell you how much it meant to me.
If it wasn't bad enough that we lost so many classmates over the years, including two of the “Three Amigos”: Jack Leonard and John Murphy. Thankfully, the Number Three Amigo, Charlie, is still with us. But now we had to lose Mark McKenna and Tony back to back.
I visit with Fr. O’Brien from time to time to keep him up with Xavier news. He does not have cell phone or email. Pony express is all he's got!
I have stayed in contact with Alan Pratt thru these many years. He has been extremely successful, and I hope and pray that he can join us in June.
I retired in September 2014. Grandchildren, golf, cooking, cocktails, good friends and good fun are all I have left – not all that bad.
See you at the reunion in June!
Let’s see. I started out as a child . . . Oh wait, this is for after Xavier. That’s easier. So where to begin?
In September 1966, I entered the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service with a major in International Relations. Father Joseph Mullen, S.J., our guidance counselor, recommended the school highly, so ..., done. I did fine and have no regrets, but mostly began immersion in life in Washington D.C. Nixon, marches, politics – it was unavoidable. Washington treated me well, with many good friends (and contacts), and I paid the bills by bartending. Politics, for better or worse, became a lifelong interest.
I returned to Massachusetts because of family concerns when my father passed away shortly after graduation. Any thought of a career in Washington was out, so what to do next? On a bit of a whim, I entered law school at Suffolk University. I worked more or less full-time to pay tuition, and finished in that vast “pretty good student” group. Snowy Boston, however, held no interest at the time. I had the D.C. bug, so it was back to Washington, where government jobs were scarce. I ended up working in employment law for a large multinational media corporation outside of D.C, which became the Thomson-Reuters Corporation after numerous '90s-style buyouts. Along the way, I moved to Herndon, a small Virginia town near Dulles Airport.
In 1996, I made the best decision of my life, leaving life as a single, and married the ever-patient Vicki (see picture). Several years later, Thomson cut me loose at 52, in a classic “you’re too old and too expensive” scenario. A few lean years followed, but, eventually, I landed a dream legal job at the Civil Rights Office of the Department of Homeland Security, which was absolutely fascinating (can’t disclose too much about that ☺). I worked there until retirement in January of this year. I’ve also taken courses in town planning as a second avocation, and am presently serving on the Planning Commission in my locale, working on development and transportation issues. Overall, I’ve been blessed, and I certainly can’t complain.
667 Eric Court
Herndon, VA 20170
Following my graduation from Xavier, I spent four challenging years on Mount St. James in Worcester, to earn my BS in Sociology, followed by three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Malaysia. In Malaysia I worked in a youth agricultural settlement program as an organizer of, what else, a state-wide sports program. The organization to which I had been assigned figured this would be the best use for someone with a degree in sociology. But I didn’t regret a single day of the three years I lived in Malaysia. It was a wonderful experience learning a new language (Malay/Indonesian) and meeting so many wonderful people in this multicultural Asian country. Malaysia is also where I met my wife of 44 years, Jee Seok Cheng. Without her continual support, encouragement and love, my life would be empty.
My days as a Peace Corps Volunteer were followed by 5 years at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Ithaca, NY. Ithaca’s frigid and snowy winters were a revelation to my Malaysian bride who had never known the temperature to dip below seventy-five. Living in a country where sixty inches of rain each year were common for her, Ithaca’s 5 feet of winter snow piled on the roads and around the houses was a novel experience. She found driving on icy roads both exhilarating and frightening. In 1977, our son David, the joy of our life, was born.
My Cornell degree in Development Sociology prepared me for an international career working with government planners and community leaders. But the career I had prepared for never materialized in the way I had imagined. From my first position to my last, it turned out that my career was just one disaster after another. Yet I do not regret my choices as I’ve been to places few have seen, worked with many remarkable people, and have participated in events that others could only hear about on the news. While I was fortunate to have missed the Vietnam War, courtesy of a high number in the draft lottery, I have dealt with the impact of war throughout my career, beginning with my first assignment for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
In 1979 I was thrilled to land a position with CRS in Indonesia. This meant being able to return to Southeast Asia where Jee would be closer to her family. On arrival in Indonesia, I found I had an important advantage over most other international staff in that I was already fluent in Indonesian. Little did I realize what my language skills would mean for my work there. After a short orientation period, I was given the challenge of being the sole CRS expat authorized to travel to East Timor to manage its relief operations. When Portugal gave up its colonies in 1975, East Timor among them, the power vacuum led Indonesia to invade and take over the territory. International reports at the time were critical of Indonesia’s invasion and the high death toll that followed. An estimated 200,000 people out of a population of 700,000 died from war or starvation. As a military zone, East Timor was closed to virtually all visitors. The only foreign organizations with permission to operate there were the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and CRS. My mandate was to prevent the remaining 500,000 people from starving to death after the island’s crops had been destroyed by the Indonesian army. Neither my studies nor my Peace Corps experience had prepared me for taking on such a momentous responsibility. And yet, I managed to carry out my mission thanks to incredible efforts from the CRS national staff, a dedicated group of Salesian missionaries serving in East Timor, and eight years of Jesuit training in how to break down major problems into manageable parts that could be tackled bit by bit. Over the next two years East Timor survived and slowly began to recover. And so I moved on to other countries and other programs.
While I had imagined my career would focus on the problems of economic development in third world countries, having successfully overseen the East Timor relief program, I found myself “type cast”. In all the years that followed, I was never long without being offered work on a relief program. Most of these assistance efforts involved helping families caught in the midst of war or providing relief to whole communities displaced by conflict or natural disaster. In a career spanning over more than 30 years, I have seen mankind at both its worst and its best. There were moments when I have been truly inspired and others that were devastatingly depressing. I well understand why the burnout rate among relief workers is so high.
I thought this reflection on my career would be a good opportunity to remind myself of the major relief and development efforts I have played some part in over the years. What follows is a chronology of career highlights as I bounced from one war or disaster to another.
(CRS: Catholic Relief Services, Save: Save the Children, AC: AmeriCares, PI: Pathfinder International, Varied: additionally includes the U.S. Agency for International Development, Oxfam, and Somalia’s National Refugee Commission)
Mine has been one of the few careers where it was possible to make a significant difference in people’s lives.
"Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life."
– Nelson Mandela
After graduation, I entered St. John’s Seminary and spent the next 8 years in study preparing for the priesthood. In 1974, after earning a Bachelor degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Divinity, I was ordained by the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros for the Diocese of Boston. Over the next 8 years I worked in 3 different parishes, from the suburbs of Abington, to the inner city of Mattapan, and finally in a campus ministry assignment in the Boston’s Back Bay. Then, in 1982, I took a leave of absence from the active ministry, and eventually was laicized, got married, and began my second career as the Chief of the Prosthetic services in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boston. For the next 30 years I worked for the VA, spending time at facilities in West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Brockton and Providence, Rhode Island, servicing the needs of our disabled veteran population.
What drew me to work in Prosthetics was an experience I had midway through the seminary. In 1971, I was involved in an auto accident while stopped to assist a motorist on Rte 128. The accident resulted in the traumatic amputation of my left leg. Twelve years later, after I began work in the VA, I became acquainted with the world of disabled sports and became active in many of them. I was a member of a local wheelchair basketball team, playing throughout New England for 20 years, and was eventually inducted into the New England Wheelchair Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. I was an active member of the Board of Directors for the New England Wheelchair Athletic Association for a number of years. I also volunteered at the annual Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Mt Sunapee for many years, helping teach newly disabled veterans to ski. Then, in the year 2000, I assisted in the formation of the United States Amputee Hockey Association and spent 10 years touring the world playing hockey against other amputee teams from The Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, and of course Canada. I was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, as a member of the US team in 2002, to recognize what was the first official, regulation, international amputee Hockey game.
I finally retired in 2013 after 30 years in the Veterans Administration Medical Centers. I'm now enjoying time with my wife Carol, our 3 daughters, and our 5 (soon to be 6) grandchildren. We enjoy much of the summer at our lakeside cottage in Maine and spend the rest of the year at our home in Easton, MA.
I have many fond memories of my years at Xavier, and always appreciated the education that it afforded me. The unique experience we had of being upper classmen for 4 years. A ski trip to the Winter Carnival in Quebec. A bus trip to climb Mt Sunapee in the fall. Playing hoops with the faculty after school... And here we are, a half century later, looking back at those formative years and the many twists and turns our lives have taken since then – hopefully with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction for where we have been, the lives we have touched, and who we have become (and continue to become).
3 Scott Drive
North Easton, MA 02356
As the years have passed, especially with the pending 50th reunion on the horizon, I‘ve come to realize how unique and special our four years at Xavier actually were. Being a “senior” all the way through high school with no upper classmen and no precedents to follow made our years more of a challenge and lot’s more fun. With their help and guidance, the Jesuit faculty became our mentors in addition to being our teachers.
We lived in Sudbury until junior year. My parents then sold the house and rented in Concord so I could finish up at Xavier and graduate. We moved to Hingham immediately after graduation in 1966. I attended Merrimack College in No Andover, Ma, graduating in 1970 earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a major in marketing. I moved home for a while after graduation.
The first 15 years of my career were pretty much boilerplate and by the book. I accepted a management position in retail banking and rose through the ranks according to senior management’s timetable. The promotions came, as did the titles, the salary and the company cars. To most people, I had a solid, successful career as Vice President and Regional Manager of the multi branch system of a large savings bank. All went according to plan, but there was one drawback. I was miserable and unfulfilled. Retail banking held no challenges for me. I was good at what I was doing, but I was burdened by routine and corporate hierarchy. I guess I wasn’t meant to be a three piece suit and wing tip guy. I married Joy during these years and was blessed with two daughters. Katie graduated from Fairfield University with a major in English and is now married and working as an editor for a local publisher. Patti graduated from Bridgewater State University and is working for a major medical technology company. Both girls have grown into strong, loyal, caring and opinionated woman and I’m proud to be their dad. I’ve also been blessed with two amazing grandsons, Gregory and James. I see the future sharing my passion for the Red Sox, Bruins and Patriots by attending ball games with the boys.
Sadly, my father died way too young, but his passing opened my eyes to the reality that life is indeed short and having learned that lesson, decided that I had enough of pinstripes and other people’s timetables. I left the banking world behind me, joined the entrepreneurial ranks, and opened up a residential mortgage loan origination company. One day I was a bank VP, the next I was a self employed mortgage broker. What was I thinking?? I’ve risen and fallen with the mercurial economy for the last 30 years, but have had a ball living on the edge. I think, because I was a late bloomer, it made the ride all the more fun. Sadly, Joy and I divorced during these years, but we remain good friends to this day.
The mortgage originations industry was like the wild, wild west when I opened my first company in the '80s. Shady dealings and lender abuse, coupled with borrower fraud and appraisal overvaluation, made it difficult for anybody who was honest and fair to make a living. The industry had to be cleansed. I gathered with four of my peers who were honorable and shared my vision and we created the Mass. Mortgage Association. The MMA ultimately became the trade association for the mortgage brokerage industry in the Commonwealth, and I became its first president and chairman of the board, serving three consecutive terms in that capacity. Our goal was to clean up “Dodge”. Over the next three years, we worked tirelessly with the legislature at the State House and lobbied our senators and elected reps on Capitol Hill in Washington. The goal was to both create credibility as an industry and to help define the parameters where mortgage brokers could safely and legally operate in the Commonwealth. Although we were often at odds with the mortgage banking industry, who would have loved to see us go away, eliminating competition, the first bill licensing my industry was passed into law in 1991. For my efforts, I was named the 1991 Massachusetts Mortgage Broker of the Year and also the National Mortgage Broker of the Year by the Phoenix based National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB).
After my term as MMA president ended, I was offered a fast track to the presidency of NAMB and was also approached by both the Mass Democratic and Republican parties to run for elected office. I declined all of the offers and went back to work building my company, but more importantly, being a divorced dad to my two young daughters.
A major benefit of self employment is the availability of a flexible schedule. I took advantage of that flexibility and spent the next number of years chaperoning my daughter’s activities, riding busses to their events, working back stage at their high school musicals, being with them and around them and their friends as much as I could and loving every minute. It was through my younger daughter Patti that I met Lynda, my soul mate and the love of my life. I’m thrilled that my best friend and I will be married this summer. Not bad for a late bloomer.
While reading Mr. Hegarty’s bio, I was sad to learn that Mr. Murphy and Mr. Leonard had passed. Along with Mr. Hegarty and Fr. Sheehan, they were the four men at Xavier that influenced me the most. I had no idea then how the lessons learned outside of the Math, English, History and Science text books would help me when times got tough and also when I needed the courage and will to live up to my ambitions and expectations and achieve my life’s goals.
There were tough times along the way. Losing both of my parents was difficult, but losing Lynda’s son Christopher knocked us to our knees. Chris, a lieutenant in the Mass Army National Guard, lost his battle with PTSD and a few summers ago, at age 27, he took his life. We’re still battling our way through the cloud of grief, but with the help of close friends and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), we’re learning to laugh again and doing so without guilt. TAPS is a national organization that offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a loved one serving in our Armed Forces. Besides providing support, TAPS is also providing us the opportunity to participate in the effort to bring to light the rampant suicide epidemic that exists in the military. Veterans, reservists and active duty military are taking their own lives at an estimated rate of 22 per day. Shocking, but true.
So that brings us to today. As I wait for Lynda to retire, my bucket list grows, but I’ll keep busy by continuing to work full time while making plans to cross as many items off the list as possible. I look back in fondness to our years at Xavier and am forever thankful to my parents for making the sacrifices that made it possible. Remembering the bus rides from Sudbury with Peter Reding and the rides in Bob Parson's ’57 Chevy open up the flood gates of memories too numerous to mention. I’m looking forward to June 2016.
Life is good.
44 Blauss Road
Whitman, MA 02382
Last fifty years in one page.
Grew up in Burlington, MA. Attended local schools until enrolling at Xavier. (Note: all the schools I attended in Burlington and Xavier have either been torn down or turned into something other than a school.) Attended Boston College for three years after graduating Xavier in 1966.
Spent the last 46 years as an itinerate information technology worker and a migrant CIO (Career Is Over). Retired and unretired twice. Currently unretired because I am not good at saying no to friends who “just need a little help.” Eileen and I have been married 38 years as I dragged her back and forth across the country. We have two beautiful and highly successful daughters. Kendra, Assistant Town Manager of Wilmington, MA, will be my date for the reunion. Eileen does not fly. Ever. Shannon is Workforce Development Manager at Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho.
Career took us from Massachusetts to Columbus and Cincinnati, OH (employer no longer exists). Next stop was Silicon Valley (San Jose and Cupertino, CA) for 15 years and another company that no longer exists. Yes, there is a trend developing but they disappeared years after I left the companies... Honest.
After 15 years on the left coast, we moved to New Jersey. Eileen finally forgave me but it took a while after she retired from Hewlett Packard. We joined AT&T just in time for the second breakup, (not the Judge Greene breakup). AT&T Microelectronics became part of the manufacturing spin off, was later sold to a European company and was totally absorbed.
After two years and one blizzard in NJ, we had the opportunity to go back to California for a company that is still in business, Oracle. So we moved to Half Moon Bay, CA (Eileen’s favorite). I worked for Larry Ellison at Oracle. Larry stories available on request.
Next joined Zilog, one of the pioneers (started by former Intel employees) in the microprocessor industry. You need huge piles of cash to compete in the semiconductor business and you better not run out of it. Zilog did. Lived through a prepackaged bankruptcy and we actually kept the company running. Only the Zilog brand exists today as the company is long gone, absorbed into another company. That was not a lot of fun so I retired the first time.
Retirement lasted a few months and then we were off to San Diego, CA to work for a semiconductor distributor that no longer exists (also sold into a larger company). Do not ever let a European venture capitalist talk you into going to work for a company as a “turnaround.” When the going gets tough, the VC sells off the company and turns around back to Europe.
Second retirement, for a few more months than the last one. Did some fun things that do not really count as working: advisory boards, blue collar investments, charity work, etc. And we moved again of course. Shannon lived in Boise and Eileen asked me if we “had to live in San Diego”. I of course said no without thinking. Six weeks later we owned a house outside Boise and were living in the potato state.
Do not answer the phone if your best friend calls and asks for “a little help” with a small company he bought in San Diego. That went from pro bono work, to part time, to now I am the CTO (Career Totally Over) for First Associates Loan Servicing. I knew nothing about financial services which worked out because the company had almost no IT infrastructure. Now we are a “FinTech” company. Go figure.
Eileen and I divide our time between Idaho and Las Vegas where we bought a house during the housing crash. You can probably work out our schedule based on the weather patterns.
By the numbers: we lived in six states, I worked for 11 companies (3 still exist), bought and lived in 9 houses, and flew almost one million miles as Asia and Europe are a long way from California and New Jersey.
11865 West Tustin Lane
Kuna, Idaho 83534
Edgie’s history written by Jim Mason
Edgie only had three short years after Xavier. He went to Fairfield University with several members of our class, but after a short time, feeling the pressures of constant schooling, he left. In our years of college you either kept up with your class or you were drafted. None of us had the opportunity to take a year off to understand what makes us tick. Edgie was drafted, went to basic training and AIT, and was on his way to Nam. Just before he shipped out, he became ill and after surgery was sent back to Boston to spend his final days at the Chelsea Naval Hospital.
This is where I came into his story. Edgie and I were not close at Xavier. We had a few classes together and were both on the cross country track team (he always beat me and on some occasions I could hear him chuckle as he ran past me). It was when I heard (from Eddie Barron) he was in the Chelsea Naval Hospital that our friendship began. At first I went to see him about once a week, but, then realizing he had hardly any visitors, I began to go every other day, spending several hours a week in that government hell hole. I watched as he went from about 120 lbs. to maybe 90 lbs.
I got to know the other men in the ward. Edgie would fill me in on who was missing because they either went home or had coded in the middle of the night. Although he never volunteered my services without permission, Edgie, being Edgie, would ask me to do errands for some of the men, including giving a few of them rides home when they were discharged. How could one say no? Edgie would laugh his ass off at the several adventures I had with my ‘taxi’ errands.
He got pneumonia at the end of ’68 and needed a tracheotomy. He refused to write anything to me on his chalk board and risked permanent damage to his throat since he insisted on speaking to me. I use to get pretty pissed at this. There were times I would go to the hospital around noon or so and was lucky to leave there by 8 p.m. Visitors to the others in the ward were asked to leave, but the nurses insisted I stay and would send up a meal for me. I never knew who requested this. Edgie never asked me to stay, but was never surprised when the nurse would not let me leave. Even when he was in the intensive care ward close to death, the 10 minute allowed visit never applied me. I felt bad for Mrs. Cronin and his other family members who were waiting to see him and would apologize to them for taking so much time. I was only told that they understood and not to worry. Well no one ever told me just what they understood.
Edgie died in late spring ’69, the day before my next scheduled visit. Well it might be selfish of me, I thank him daily for not letting me be there when it happened. Along with Eddie Barron, I was a pallbearer at his funeral. It was a great honor and more importantly kept my mind off things during the event. I was too busy worrying if I would drop the damn thing.
Although he was so sick and often in pain, he remained Edgie until the end. He was always good natured and never complained. He died with great dignity. That’s a gift he gave me that I’m sorry all of you missed. I knew from about the first month I was going in to see him that he was terminal. I had offered to sneak in some beer. He told me he needed to ask his doctor. The next time I was in, I had forgotten about the beer, but Edgie didn’t. He told me that the doctor said it was not good to have beer with his condition and medication. Then Edgie said....but the doctor told me it really didn’t make a difference. I knew then he was terminal and also realized he knew. It took all the strength I could muster not to look shocked for the rest of the visit. A few days later Dave Fulton and I brought in a 6 pack. We got him outside, which was hilarious. He had been in bed so long, the bottom of his feet were as if he had just been born, so he kind of hopped out of the ward saying “ooh ooh ooh” all the way…again true Edgie.
I still remember that awful place, the drive up the hill, the old brick building that had good views of Boston only to remind those inside what they were missing, the large wards with around twelve beds in each positioned with six on each wall and separated by a long corridor, the dingy walls, the tile floor, the sounds and the smells. I can still see him lying in his bed about halfway down the ward. I can still hear Edgie’s voice and as his death got near, the sound of him gasping for breath.
I have written something I would like you all to read. It is a promise I have kept, and will always keep, to never forget him. He inspires me everyday of my life, and teaches me how precious every moment is and how to accept what ever comes my way with grace…, this one’s for you kid.
Please click here: “Conversation with a friend”
A dedication to the memory of Edgie, by Jim Mason
Fr. Moriarity would often promise us that, "We would thank him some day", for having studied Latin. I remember this occasionally, and I'm still waiting for that ah-ha moment when I think to myself, "Damn, thank goodness I studied Latin". The moment has never arrived. Nevertheless, I have thanked him many times over the years. Fr. Mo, Fr. Sheehan, Frs. Kerdiejus, O'Brien and Doyle, I've silently thanked all of these men, for their thoughtful care, their patience, their encouragement, their humor... They gave us such a fine example. I wish I could go back and thank them in person.
During our senior year I had a fleeting impulse to major in Forestry – I think it lasted about 10 minutes. Forestry implies a Land Grant school, so at the time UMass seemed like a good choice. My eventual degree was Civil Engineering, which hasn’t been particularly consequential career wise, but UMass also brought me to the Amherst/Northampton area, which has been a terrific place to build a life and our family.
I’ve been self-employed for my entire adult life. My path through college was a little roundabout, (class of '76), and by the time I finally graduated I had married my wife Julie, we had a daughter, and I had opened a store selling stereo equipment. (For those of you who stayed in the Boston area, my store was similar to a Tweeter.) For almost 25 years I ran a store on Main Street in Northampton, and those were great years. In the '70s and '80s the pace of life seemed a little slower, and being a Main Street merchant sometimes felt like having a role in It’s a Wonderful Life. Change is inevitable though, and about 20 years ago I decided to close my retail store. At the time there were some issues with a new landlord, but also there were seismic changes happening within my industry. Chain stores were impacting walk-in traffic, and a growing number of people were asking for more elaborate, built-in systems, (i.e. I was spending more time away from the store). So – with some trepidation – I opened an office in an industrial area and transitioned to a custom installation model of business. In a sense I became a contractor, not unlike a plumber or an electrician, albeit a contractor selling fun stuff – projection screens that come down from the ceiling, music around the swimming pool, touch screens, systems that control lights, shades and thermostats, huge TV’s, etc.
To my relief, and frankly somewhat to my surprise, business not only continued, it improved. Becoming involved during the construction phase of a house was an eyeopener. Suddenly $20K projects became almost routine, and large jobs often ran to six figures. Having hitched my wagon to the housing market, naturally business suffered after the downturn in 2008. (People in my industry get a little misty-eyed thinking back to the heyday of the housing boom.) But after more than 40 years I have a strong enough base of customers and contacts that business has remained solid if not spectacular. These days my employees are electricians, and new clients come primarily from referrals by architects and contractors. Every business has its challenges of course, but I’m genuinely grateful for how well that transition has worked out.
As an unexpected bonus, this business model also freed me from the confines of retail hours. Suddenly my schedule was my own. Travel, golf, an afternoon bicycle ride – sure! I’d long volunteered on various boards and committees, and I decided to use some of my new–found flexibility to take on something more demanding. I joined and spent many years as Chairman of the Northampton Board of Public Works. It was very satisfying work, and I liked having a seat at the table as our town grappled with all of the usual issues facing municipalities.
About 11 years ago Julie and I bought a house on the island of Vieques, PR. Vieques is the western-most of the Virgin Islands, and as you might imagine it’s a beautiful spot, and definitely a fun change of scenery from Massachusetts. There’s a great community there, and it really has become our second home. These days Julie goes for the entire winter, and I “commute” back and forth, spending a week or two each month on the island. Like most of you, I’m on the cusp of retirement. I’m planning to put my commercial building on the market this spring, and then hopefully wrap things up by the end of this year. (This is breaking news; Julie and I just “shook” on it a few days ago!)
There has been sadness of course. We’ve lost people we loved, including my sister Laurie and all four of our parents, and Julie and I really wanted more children. But by and large I can’t think of any real regrets. (All right, I regret selling those apartment buildings in the early nineties.) We’re in a great place, our daughter Ciara is settled and happy at the Children's Hospital in Denver, and we’re excited to see what the next phase of our life will bring.
P.O. Box 1179
Northampton, MA 01061
After Xavier, I attended Dartmouth, where I majored in English and was able to study for periods in France and in Costa Rica. How to get away from the then single-sex Hanover campus consumed a lot of my and my friends’ time, along with antiwar activities.
After Dartmouth, I fortunately did not have to make any difficult choices retarding military service since my draft lottery number was 346. I decided to go to law school rather than pursue a life in academia and attended the University of Pennsylvania. I met my future wife, Barbara, at Penn and we started going out during our second year. She is the first to admit that the timing was fortunate for her from an academic standpoint as her grades skyrocketed while mine plummeted – much in the same way as I learned from Father Sheehan that systems tend to reach a state of equilibrium. The timing was fortunate for me in every other way since she has been the perfect life partner for me.
Since she was raised in Richmond and I in Boston, we had to work out where we would live after graduation. After successfully convincing her that New York was practically midway between the two, we agreed to settle in the Big Apple and were married in 1974.
I started practice in New York at large firm – Paul Weiss – which appealed to my youthful idealistic self for its liberal political bent. Work was slow there when I first started in 1973 since the country was in the middle of a recession. My work commitments increased dramatically when I became involved in the representation of the entity that was created to save New York City when its financial crisis erupted in 1975. That phase lasted several years as the City caromed from crisis to crisis, which seemed inevitably to fall on holidays, as Barbara is always quick to remind me. After seguing into SEC and M&A work for a number of years thereafter, I decided that the work/life balance at a big firm was not the best way of improving the odds for a successful long term marriage. I left in 1980 to go to a firm where I could find the proper balance. That firm was Warshaw Burstein, where I have now been practicing corporate and commercial law in Manhattan for 36 years.
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to engage in a highly varied practice over that period. Several years ago, I became the managing partner of the firm, a position best described as being responsible for managing the unmanageable. We now have approximately 50 attorneys, some of whom have been my partners for many years and others of whom I have recruited to join us more recently. We are a general commercial law firm. However, while the “bread and butter” of our practice remains business focused, we have recently branched out into some new fairly cutting edge areas including representation of persons accused of sexual assault in campus and clients trying to establish custody rights for non-biological parents.
When we first moved to New York we lived for the first year in Brooklyn because everyone who lives in New York lived in Brooklyn at one time or another. In 1975, we moved to Rye, which is northeast of the City in Westchester County, and have resided on the same street – although two different locations – all that time. Barbara has been a practicing attorney in Rye for many years now, specializing in real estate and matrimonial law. We have been very involved in our community, with Barbara having served on our landmarks, zoning and planning commissions (having been Chair of the last of these for many years). I have also done my bit, having served on landmarks and as President of our local Historical Society as well as other local organizations. Each of us also belongs to our respective book clubs. The men’s club and the women’s clubs get together every few months for a session led by a Yale prof, which sessions invariably remind me of the breadth of exposure to English and world literature we received from Jim O’Brien, for which I am thankful to this day.
When I left the big law firm years ago, I made a vow to myself that I would try to get some exercise every day and have done a fairly decent job of living up to that, mostly by playing squash in the city at least four times a week at a nearby club with a group of buddies, some of whom I have been playing with for over 30 years. I also play tennis and run on the weekends, although I must admit that the running seems to get a lot tougher as the years go by.
As for retirement, I have no plans in that direction for now since I continue to be excited and challenged by what I am able to do on a daily basis.
Now for the really important stuff: Our daughter Lucy is now 41 and works as a business consultant for Bain. Her husband Mat is the founder of a start-up in the health care industry. They have given us three grandchildren – Evan, Maggie and Anna, who are respectively 8, 6 and 4. They live in D.C. (having previously lived in Brooklyn) and we see them every three or four weeks, so we are regular Acela customers. Also, our grandkids come to stay with us for six weeks every summer, although we know that it won’t be too long before they decide we are too boring to hang out with. For now, it is the happiest part of the year for us.
973 Forest Avenue
Rye, NY 10580
914-967-3420 home, 646-709-6400 cell
After graduating from Xavier, I attended St. Anselm’s College which turned out to be a complete disaster. I found my way by joining the Army National Guard where I spent 6 months training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then 6 more years with the National Guard Reserves out of Concord, MA. I was honorably discharged as a Specialist 6 class. Serving in the army was a turning point for me.
During that period I was accepted at Babson College and graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. During these years, throughout high school and college, I was dedicated to learning the supermarket business that my father began in 1948. My dream from when I was 12 years old was to run the company when he retired. Unfortunately he retired early due to medical reasons, and I was rushed into operating the company before I was prepared. After many years of long hours and hard work, we began to grow. We now operate 6 Donelans Supermarkets and employ almost 350 Associates in Middlesex County. It is very competitive and challenging but I am lucky. I have worked in a business that I love. Even though there are constant challenges, I look forward to going to work everyday. I'll miss it when I cannot.
After my first marriage ended in divorce in 1994, I met a woman up at Waterville Valley where we both enjoyed skiing. Mutual friends introduced us, we fell in love, and I have been married to Martha for 16 years. We have 5 children between us, and 6 grandchildren to keep us busy. We enjoy boating, skiing, traveling, and spend much of the winter in St. Thomas where we own a part-time residence.
I will never forget my days at Xavier High. My college days were turbulent, and since I was married, working, and a commuter student, I didn’t have a chance to make many friends at Babson. So my High School days remain memorable to me. The Scholastics, Misters Murphy, Leonard, Monahan and Hegarty were all so wonderful and influential. I remember Fr. Kerdiejus and Fr. Murphy always complaining that my hair was too long. I especially loved playing basketball with Paul, Mike, Jim Dyer, Bill, Jed and the guys. I remember when Buddy Venne came up, he was a real threat to take my job! I think I had to switch positions to make room for him. I will never forget those games and the time spent with my teammates. Bill Boland still calls me Gunner. I guess I should have passed it more to Paul, but I loved to shoot.
Life has been good; the supermarket business has been good to me. I have had some excitement having skied Tuckermann's Ravine and Helicopter skied several times with my son, John. We have spent many days together skiing at Waterville Valley and out West, played a lot of tennis together, and have a great relationship. He has a very successful career at Amazon, and 2 beautiful children. Martha and I have traveled quite a bit throughout Europe and the States, and enjoyed the last 23 years together. Her 3 children also have successful careers and are raising families.
I cannot believe it has been 50 years. It will be good to see everyone.
199 Nagog Hill Road
Acton, MA 01720
In June of ’66, I graduated from Xavier High School and went on for another four years of Jesuit education at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. While there my interest in forming a moral and spiritual stance for my life deepened as, at the same time, my revulsion toward the war in Vietnam grew. By my senior year, I considered myself a religious pacifist and was increasingly intent on joining the resistance movement to the war. Fifty years after Xavier, I am very proud of my actions during that period of my life.
I became involved with the community of anti-war resisters coalesced around Daniel Berrigan, S.J. and his brother Philip Berrigan. I participated in non-violent break-ins of Selective Service offices up and down the East Coast of the U.S. Done at night, these actions resulted in the destruction of many hundreds of thousand draft files that sometimes prevented the Selective Service system from operating in major cities and in two complete states. In testimony before Congress, J. Edgar Hoover called our group The East Coast Conspiracy to Save Lives. No one was hurt, no violence was used, no buildings burned, but we became good at ‘breaking and entering’. Many people went to prison, in some cases for years. Fortunately, I was never caught and never went to prison for my actions but I’ve seen the inside of a few jail cells. We undoubtedly saved many lives of men who were never called up to ‘serve’ in Vietnam. My sole motivation was to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of militarism in this country and I succeeded.
Perhaps the most significant action I was involved in was the theft of the FBI’s COINTELPRO files in their Media, PA, office. My role was to disseminate the stolen files to national and international newspapers to reveal the extent of the government’s domestic spying program on the peace movement, the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers and regular folks simply opposed to the Vietnam war. During the mid-90s, I began to be contacted increasingly by people doing Ph.D. research into the anti-war movement and in one case a documentary film-maker from Berkeley. I was interviewed for one documentary film (Hit and Stay) and my work mentioned in several books most recently Burglary by Betty Medsger about the FBI break-in.
After that frenetic period of the early-70s, I became involved with the Catholic Worker movement, worked with Dorothy Day in New York City and returned to Worcester to co-found with a college classmate (and lifelong friend) the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker community. We opened a storefront drop-in center in a poor downtown neighborhood, put on the coffee, made soup and provided a respite for, what turned out to be, a community of recently de-institutionalized mental hospital patients. During those years, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was turning patients out of the state mental hospitals and dumping them in the community with zero support. To make a long story short, the Mustard Seed is still going 43 years later supported by ecumenical churches, individuals, businesses and organizations throughout central Massachusetts doing the Works of Mercy. I am a member of the board of directors and occasionally return to Worcester to cook dinner for upwards of 200 people a night.
Eventually, in 1978, I went to graduate school and obtained a dual Master’s degree from Antioch University (taking the same courses one would in an MBA program plus environmental management, engineering and planning). By that time, I was married, had a son (and later a daughter) and then began a career with environmental and civil engineering consulting firms. Over the next 35 years, I worked on some of the largest transportation, infrastructure, and land development projects in four states. I’ve developed industrial parks, manufacturing plants, a two million square foot medical center, a college library, many sewer and water projects and prepared environmental impact statements for a 7,000’ bridge across Lake Champlain and an 18-mile long circumferential highway around a major city, to name just a few. I also was instrumental in starting a regional bus system and founded a transportation management association comprised of municipal officials, major employers and three transit system operators to address traffic congestion in my area of New Hampshire. For these efforts, I was honored by the office of US EPA – Region One.
I’ve served on many municipal boards, been appointed by the governor of New Hampshire to a transportation advisory board, testified many times before the State legislature and was elected president of a regional planning commission comprised of 27 towns spread across three counties in the State. During my professional career, I’ve done a great deal of public speaking and advocacy work in the areas of environmental protection, land conservation and public policy. I’ve also served on many non-profit boards, built homes for Habitat for Humanity in Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island (with my son when he was a student at Brown University), South Dakota (with Jimmy Carter) and Washington, D.C. I read a great deal, don’t watch TV, listen to classical music and I love to cook a fine meal and entertain friends around the dinner table. Before my knees became creaky, I enjoyed hiking in the woods and the mountains of New Hampshire. All my life, I’ve had serious chronic health issues but haven’t let them slow be down.
My fondest memories of Xavier were being in a few plays directed by Charley Hegarty and learning to love literature. One of the strangest memories of those years occurred in October, 1962, in Mr. Dorin, S.J.,’s Latin class looking out the window toward Route 2 to see a very long Army convoy heading down Route 2 that was mobilizing for the Cuban missile crisis that thankfully never erupted into war. The saddest memory, of course, was having an English class interrupted by the announcement that president John F. Kennedy had been killed in Dallas.
I’m most proud of my two children, Elias and Sarah each of whom was adopted within days of their births, and that I’ve maintained a very amicable friendship with their mother, Margaret, despite our divorce. Our family frequently gets together for lunch or dinner. In the mid-nineties, I went through therapy and it changed my life immeasurably for the better.
I am no longer a Catholic (but by no means an “angry ex-Catholic”). By the mid-70s I’d become a Quaker and moved well beyond conventional Christian theology. I’m still a religious pacifist and still involved with the Catholic Worker community in Worcester. And, I’ve had a 45-year relationship with the Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts where I make occasional retreats. In March, 2014, I presented a paper about Dorothy Day and my work with the Catholic Worker at a national conference in Miami. In October, 2015, I traveled with a small delegation to Cuba visiting fellow Quakers throughout the island.
Now that I’m retired from full-time work, I’ve been facilitating workshops in Massachusetts prisons for the past three years on non-violent conflict resolution with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) begun by Quakers after the Attica prison riots in 1971. There are upwards of twenty prisoners in these workshops which meet for three long days at a time “inside the wall”. Most of them are learning about non-violence for the first time in their lives and it is remarkable to see them wrestle with these new insights.
If I had to live my life over, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I find that I keep going back again and again to read the bios of my Xavier brothers (and a wonderful teacher) to find that what strikes my core is the honesty of them. As we've all learned: life is never a smooth road but, rather, one marked by hills and valleys, successes and losses, direction, dead ends and occasional wanderings from time to time. That's been the measure of my own life. In my own bio, I'd have told more if that Mr. Hegarty hadn't held me to one page.
For example, I never mentioned the despair I felt when my marriage ended in the mid-nineties although we both wanted it to end. What got me through that period were the values I developed at Xavier and later: I refused to make my former wife an 'enemy' based upon my pacifist values. Instead, I worked mightily to repair our relationship -- not as husband and wife but as father and mother of our two children -- and I (no, we) were able to do that. That's just one of my own personal 'high and lows'. I could mention others but won't.
Several years after our divorce, I was driving my son to Maine one summer where he was going to paint a house. Along the way, and apropos of nothing, he said to me: 'Dad, I'm really glad you never said anything negative about Mom'. I thanked him; we sat in silence but then I knew that I'd succeeded in transforming the situation in our family. It's been up hill since then.
I contrast the honesty of my high school confreres with the bios I've seen by college classmates in various reunions from time to time (which I've rarely attended) . Sadly, they mostly talk about the social events, the drinking, the runs to the 'Packy' (i.e. liquor store), etc. -- and, I am led to acknowledge that our high school class was a superb gathering of wonderful men in comparison to my college classmates. I've found that I have little connection with the majority of my college classmates except those who went to Xavier High School (and a few others).
So, I applaud your honesty. It's quite remarkable. And, I look forward to meeting again with all of you in late June.
Namaste (the Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in you),
30 Shaw Street
Lebanon, NH 03766
cell (603) 359-0568, home (603) 448-6411
Long gone are the days when a high school senior could get away with applying to only two colleges. But those were different days and I was attending a Jesuit high school. It was Holy Cross vs. Georgetown. Spending some overnights at both I learned that the drinking age in Worcester was 21 while it was just 18 for beer and wine in D.C. The difficult decision was made.
At Georgetown University I was accepted as a pre-med. What a boost to my ego; “They obviously think I can become a doctor”. Well, not really. There were 400 students in the Freshman class and over half were “pre-meds” at least until the first Inorganic Chemistry test results were released. After surviving Freshman finals I was accepted into the Honors English program and offered an opportunity to get a degree in that department. (Thank you Mr. Pratt and Mr. Hegarty, et alia.)
In December of my Senior year I received my acceptances to both dental schools. It was freezing in D.C. and all I could think about was getting warm. I looked at the list of US dental schools and found just two south of the Mason-Dixon line. I applied to one, Emory, and was accepted. In March 1970 I went down for a look-see. Departing D.C. I dragged my suitcase through 6 inches of newly fallen snow and then deplaned in Atlanta. The brand new dental school building was surrounded by flowering azaleas and blooming dogwoods. It was Spring. I was hooked.
At Emory University I did the usual things a dental student does. I survived. So did my patients. I finished my clinical and academic requirements about six months before scheduled graduation but they wouldn't let me loose until June 1974. It was then I discovered computers and programming. Coca-Cola had donated a huge mainframe to Emory University and I had unlimited access to some terminals and a printer. I taught myself programming. That effort got me the Senior class Clinic Day award for computerizing the first differential diagnosis program used to identify oral pathological diseases. I also received the Senior Award from the American Academy of Oral Pathology as my program became used at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. This experience proved to me that Coca-Cola is good for your teeth.
With my (very) low draft number and educational deferments ending I knew that the Armed Forces were going to grab me along with my newly minted DDS degree. Being near the ocean sounded better than being in the middle of nowhere. Soon I was commissioned a Navy Lieutenant and stationed with the Marines at Parris Island and Beaufort Marine Air Station in South Carolina. There, my wife and I both earned our private pilots' licenses and got to practice our go-arounds when the Navy Tomcats and Harriers were on final.
After 20 years of school it was wonderful to come home at the end of the day and relax. I certainly never missed having to do any more school homework. In my spare time I homebuilt a computer, some kit shortwave radios, practiced my Morse code and received my Advanced class ham radio license. There are always ways to fill up empty time. The Vietnam War had wound down and the Navy let me go back home.
In 1976 Nora and I moved back to Atlanta, opened a solo dental practice and taught Operative Medicine and Oral Medicine at Emory Dental. The practice grew and several other dentists joined me to establish DentFirst, P.C. I remember telling an XHS classmate at one of our class reunions that “If you can't make a go of it in Atlanta then there's no hope for you”. I'd like to attribute everything to hard work but being in the right place at the right time certainly helps a lot. Our practice has grown now to 48 dentists in 12 offices.
I met Nora Walker, conveniently a dental hygienist, in Atlanta in 1970, and were married in Miami in 1973. We are now celebrating our 43 years of marriage. She's a still a saint. I'm still not. We have one son, Trevor, 30, whom we sent for a Massachusetts Prep School education (Eaglebrook School in Deerfield and St. Marks School in Southborough). Trevor just got married and lives in New Orleans where he attended Tulane and has earned two Masters' degrees (in Finance and Real Estate Development). True to his genes he doesn't like snow either. He scurried out of the city the day before Katrina made landfall but his below sea level apartment was filled from the floor up with 3 feet of mud and from the ceiling down with 5 feet of mold. He lost everything except his love for New Orleans.
Back in Atlanta I obtained my instrument and multi-engine pilot ratings and have owned a couple of airplanes. Sadly, the government says that my health precludes flying these days. My other hobby is ham radio and have talked with hams in over 125 different countries, finally achieving the top level license. For many years I was an Assistant Scoutmaster and a leader in our church. I am a Linux computer Certified Professional and while away many worthless hours writing programs which interest no one but me. I'm a member of Mensa, a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the American Academy of Dental Group Practice.
We are blessed to have a summer cottage on Hilton Head Island, SC and a winter townhouse in Boca Raton, FL. We spend as much time there as we possibly can. It's never enough. I have stepped full-time into dental management and rarely see patients now. Retirement is always on the horizon but who knows when?
I have such fond memories of Xavier and you, my classmates, and many teachers. At times it was pure torture (specifically Fr. Moriarty and our morning double period Latin classes) and at other times, ecstasy. I believe that our times together at Xavier were the most indelible experiences of our lives. We grew up. Together. What had been Camelot during our Freshman year became an Armageddon in the jungle in just four short years. Most of us survived and we prospered; choosing divergent paths. As the years progressed we grew in knowledge, faith and love. Thank you, men of '66 for being there with me … and for me … when I really needed your friendship! I still value it tremendously. Nora and I are really looking forward to June 2016. It's been only 50 years ...
705 Millport Pointe
Johns Creek, GA 30097
The spring of ’66 marked the end of 4 years of prep and the start of my big adventure.
The best part about Harvard was that it was located in Harvard Square, and so for me classes were something of an afterthought. I read history and did jolly college things and the war dragged on. I attended many protests and anti-war demonstrations. SDS had a campaign to get ROTC off campus to make fewer cogs for the machine. It culminated in the occupation of University Hall and next morning the State Police surrounded Harvard yard and showed us how state power worked. They went in with clubs swinging and within a few minutes there were busloads of bloody students on the way to their bookings.
That summer I hitchhiked around the country, staying with friends. When I returned the draft lottery had made it possible to leave school without an all-expenses paid trip to Asia. When I was offered a gap year, I took three. Among other odd jobs, I worked as an auto mechanic and a copper miner in Arizona. When Marty Mills heard about this he said “Watch out, you might fall in and get refined”.
In June of ‘73 I became a Bachelor of Arts and a bachelor no more. I got married the day after graduation to Kathryn Palmer, Radcliffe ’73. She grew up in Maine and we spent the summer after graduation on Sutton Island off Acadia. Over the years we have traveled to France, Ireland and the UK and spent one memorable Christmas on Easter Island. She earned a law degree and a Masters in Library Science. I find it wise not to argue; she can convince me I’m wrong and cite the source.
I went to work for a printing company and have been in the industry ever since. It is the original Information business and change is constant. It has moments of fun, moments of boredom, moments of excitement and moments of despair. In that, it is probably like your job, unless you are retired, in which case meet me after class so I can copy your notes.
We had our first child, James Michael Downing in 1978. A year later we moved to Charlestown, renovated a house and garden and told our friends that we stayed in Boston for the schools.
In 1982 Caitlin Elizabeth Downing was born. She was bright eyed and beautiful but was born with a genetic defect that meant her nerves conveyed a weak and diminishing signal to her muscles. She died at 6 months. It was a challenging time for us. Four years later the universe gave us our third child, Lydia Ann Downing. James and Lydia both graduated from Boston Latin and say that one of the best things about their education was meeting and befriending kids from all racial and social backgrounds, many more than I ever met. For moral education we found the Unitarian Universalist Association and were members of the First and Second Church in Boston for some years.
James went to Kenyon College and later received a JD from BC law, so at least the family has a single eagle. He met his wife at Kenyon and now lives in Cleveland with our 2-year old granddaughter. Lydia went to Colorado College and is now a Vice President with the NYC Economic Development Commission. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. When the children left, we found a place in Winthrop Maine and have been there ever since. I still work in Mass four days a week and commute home for long weekends.
I saw George Riley recently and he reminded me of one night from our time in the Bahamas over Spring Break in 1968. My friend Dan started reading from Beowulf, a book he had been studying in the old guttural English. We were camped on the beach and the sky was moonless. The passage he chose concerned a bird who flew in from the darkness and passed through the great hall, lit by fire and boisterous with the sounds of revelry, drinking and merriment. It flew on into the darkness on the other side. It was a metaphor for our existence. We come in from the dark and for a brief flight pass through the light, and return to the eternal night.
It has been a privilege to live this life and I wish you every good fortune as you complete your adventure.
540 Mount Pisgah Road
Winthrop, ME 04364
I transferred into Xavier in my junior year and was immediately integrated into the Jesuit culture and embraced by the entire sophomore class for which I have been grateful my entire life. After graduating in 1966, I spent the summer going to school in England and France with a group of my graduating class and Fr. O’Brien as our chaperone. This experience infused in me the desire to travel throughout the last fifty years.
Upon return to the US, I spent the next two years at Biscayne College in Miami Florida and then transferred to Southern Connecticut University. I graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in American History. Right after that, I was employed by Kmart Corporation for the next twenty five years. I started as a trainee in a Kresge five and dime and progressed through the ranks. I was a Store Manager, District Manager, Regional Manager, National Marketing Coordinator and, finally, became Buyer for Health and Beauty Care in Kmart Corporate Office in Michigan.
In 1995 I was approached by Revlon Cosmetics to manage their national merchandising program. I jumped at the chance to leave the world of retail and enter the consumer products manufacturing community. I was promoted to National Director of Brokers and Distributors in 2005. This entailed managing 28 Broker Offices throughout the United States and calling on 85 regional retail chains and distributors. I have been in every state in the US except for Utah and Hawaii… loved the travel. Imagine an Irishman from an all-boys Catholic Jesuit high school spending 17 years selling makeup and lipstick to women all over the country…you can’t make this stuff up!
My biggest accomplishment was to convince Maureen to marry me in 1970 and then for her to put up with me for the last 45 years. We have three wonderful children and five very active grandchildren. My oldest son Michael and his wife have triplets that are 6 years old….the noise level and activity level are constant. My daughter Kristen and her husband have a son who is 8 years old and he is into every sport they can schedule. We are constantly going to his games and sitting in the grandparents section…I keep asking Maureen why are we sitting with all these old people? She just looks at me and shakes her head. My youngest son Kevin and his wife just welcomed their daughter Kennedy Jamison into the world in October. She is a healthy, happy baby. And, the best part, they only live 5 minutes away so we can take her anytime they are willing to give her up for a few hours.
I retired at the end of 2012 and Maureen retired from her position as a pre-op and post-op nurse at a free standing surgery facility in the beginning of 2015. Four years ago, we spent a month in Ireland travelling all around the island…it truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Each year since, we have spent a month in Europe travelling to a major city and spending a week, then getting on a cruise ship for two weeks exploring ports in the Mediterranean from Rome to Venice. Two years ago we travelled the Baltic region from London to St. Petersburg and ports in between and last year from Amsterdam to the British Isles. We plan to continue these trips as long as we are able… it is so nice to meet new people and experience different cultures. We wish everyone health and happiness in the years ahead and if you are ever going through Michigan give us a call.
54 Oakbridge Drive
Rochester Hills, MI 48306
After graduating from Xavier, I went to the Jesuit office on Commonwealth Ave in Boston. I remember filling out a few forms and the priest interviewing me recommended that I complete college first, and if I still wanted to become a Jesuit, they would accept me. This turned out to be some of the best advice anyone ever gave to me. I thank Fr. O'Brien for taking a great interest in a number of student's faith formation including various religious trips to St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer and especially going to Gloucester. I can never thank Fr. O'Brien enough for setting my moral compass which would guide me through my life and also his caring about how well I did at Xavier.
I also want to mention a true story about Fr. Moriarty, who would on occasion sit on the grass outside of school with a small number of students and discuss different topics related to religion. On this particular day he was discussing the power of Satan and spoke about an Exorcism near Georgetown, years before the movie came out. I want you guys to be able to sleep tonight so I'll only give you the reader's digest version. Fr Moriarty stated this and it has stuck with me since then, "One of Satan's greatest accomplishments is that people think he doesn't exist". Just look at the secular world we live in today and you must know he was correct.
I have great memories of so many friends at Xavier and some stories I shouldn't repeat. I have to confess that on a few occasions when I would be working the basketball clock I would stretch the final seconds in our favor and help Paul, Mike, Jack, Jim and Jed. No cell phones then, who knew.
One of my best memories was being elected a senior class officer which lead me to confrontations with Fr. Vigneau about the closing of Xavier. My worst memory was being one of the lifeguards on duty at Mt Sunapee when George Lavrakas ('68) drowned. I can still remember watching from the bus as the divers brought his body up, wishing I could have done more.
After graduating I entered The School Of Education at Boston College, where sorry Shawn, I joined the ROTC and the Drill Team. After some time a pattern emerged where we would be the color guard for the 2nd Lt's who died in Nam. Then Charlie Sheehan, Ms Margaret Sheehan's nephew and our former classmate from West Concord was killed 2/68 in Nam and since the lottery was coming up, I quit BC and joined the Army Reserves. I eventually finished my B.A. in Psych/Soc at Framingham State College. I returned to Boston College and received my M.Ed. in Special Needs, specializing in Learning Disabilities. Surprisingly being a little bit older and wiser, I did quite well. I moved to Fitchburg, MA and joined the faculty of the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, where I was hired as the Director of Special Needs for twenty years, then Principal for nine years and Business Manager for five years retiring in 2007. This is a very successful school with an enrollment of over 1400 students, serving eighteen communities. In addition I taught for fifteen years on the Adjunct Faculty at Fitchburg State College. A number of years ago I was honored to attend Pasquale (Pat) Micciche's retirement as a professor at FSC and was able to thank him publicly for being such a great role model for all of us at Xavier. Also, words cannot express my gratitude to the scholastics at Xavier including Charlie Hegarty, Long John Murphy and Jack Leonard. They collectively touched our lives in so many ways!
The best part of the last fifty years has been my family. My wife Judy and I were married August, 1970 in St. Louis where I was sent for active duty. We have two wonderful children, my daughter Sarah teaches religion at a catholic high school in Worcester, and my son John Michael is married to Alison and is a supervisor of software development for Meditech. We just learned that we are expecting our third grandchild in Nov. God has blessed our family in so many ways, but as we all know it is difficult when we try to walk the narrow road.
One final thought, although we all remember the positive aspects of Xavier there were many negatives, especially for us in the "Academic" level. Xavier had a transfer‐out rate of over 50%, and many of these students had footprints on their backs from being stepped on and over by the system. It seems that the Jesuits were following a plan to educate the elite and wealthy during a time of serious change in the church. I found an interesting PhD. Thesis on line from a Jesuit doctoral student at Boston College (2013) named Casey Beaumier, "For Richer, for Poorer: Jesuit Secondary Education in America and the Challenge of Elitism." (Click Here) Although it is very lengthy, it answered many of the questions I had about Xavier. Also, the new extended summary of Xavier in the history section is quite informative.
When we think back on Xavier we should remember that it didn't last, and unlike the Titanic, it took nine years to sink. When we had our assemblies in the auditorium we probably wouldn't have hissed if we had known the "snake" would eventually bite us all in the ass!
I wish you all the best, may God bless you and your families. John
34 Central Avenue
Fitchburg, MA 01420