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Rose Haddad, 111; her zest for life inspired generations

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Published June 4, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B10

Escorted by a daughter and two grown grandchildren, Rose Haddad ventured from Natick to Orlando to celebrate her 90th birthday.

She rode roller coasters at Disney World and toured the Kennedy Space Center.

“When we walked through Disney World, she refused to have a wheelchair – it was at the point I needed the wheelchair,” said granddaughter RoseMarie Stamboulides of Ashland. “She didn’t want any special treatment because she didn’t consider herself old, and she had the mind-set that as long as she acted and thought young, she was.”

Mrs. Haddad, a devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who may have been the country’s oldest Arab-American, died April 29 at Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick after a period of declining health. She was 111.

Mrs. Haddad was born Ramza Homsy in Damascus in 1900, and moved to the United States with her family as a child.

The family quickly settled in Natick, and she became a member of the Church of St. John of Damascus, where she was active for the rest of her life.

“What’s interesting is she was older than the church; it was built in 1907,” said grandson Richard Nawfel of Waltham. “There was a lot more to her than just the church, but she dedicated a good part of her life to it.”

She married John Haddad, who knew her family and its four sisters, but was most attracted to Rose, her granddaughter said.

“She would tell us, `Of course he was going to pick me,”‘ Stamboulides said.

The pair lived in Natick, starting a home on East Central Street on a large property that was full of life: a few animals, two gardens, and seven children.

“There were always people, food, and music,” Nawfel said. “From the way I heard it described [it] was always … a house full of people. In terms of possessions, most had very little, but they had each other. And that’s the theme that is pretty clear.”

She was known for her Arabic dishes and pastries. When her children and grandchildren asked to learn her craft, she said she had no written recipes; she would explain the dish by saying “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” in Arabic.

“If one thing defined her home besides herself and her own personality, it was food – food and people,” Nawfel said.

Though Mrs. Haddad loved her home, she left for extended periods, twice to travel back to the Middle East. She regaled her grandchildren with stories of her travels to her native Syria and destinations such as Jerusalem. She told of large festivals, concerts, and vivid scenery.

In 1965, five years after her husband died, she obtained a driver’s license and bought a car. She began working at Leonard Morse Hospital, prepping instruments for surgeons.

“For her to enter the workforce was a big thing,” her grandson said. “She had her own car and went to work like everyone else for the first time. It was part of this theme – independence. Her independence was her strength.”

As her children grew, they integrated her into their new lives. For family occasions, from graduations to basketball games to going out to dinner, the reservation for the family often included Mrs. Haddad. As a result, Stamboulides and Nawfel were close with their grandmother.

Mrs. Haddad taught her grandson Arabic because he was interested in learning her heritage and language.

“We kind of had our own half-English, half-Arabic conversations, and it seemed to bridge the generations,” he said. “I understood her like there was not that difference in generations.”

When college basketball’s March Madness came, Nawfel would have Mrs. Haddad fill out a bracket; and Stamboulides would invite her to her Mary Kay makeup parties.

“It was things like that that we would engage her in, and she loved that, and I almost think that’s what kept her young,” Stamboulides said.

Nawfel said that when people asked him her secret for long life, he explained she had none, aside from her smile and eight glasses of water a day. She simply enjoyed life, he said.

“She had tragedies happen to her, whether it was sickness, hardships, or anything else; she always seemed to have this strong will to survive and maintain her quality of life,” he said. “I think it had a lot to do with [seeing] a lot of changes in America over 100 years, and people. She was somebody who could adapt, but at the same time, she maintained her traditional values.”

In 2000, Senator Edward M. Kennedy presented her with a centenarian award at the John F. Kennedy Library.

In addition to her grandson and granddaughter, Mrs. Haddad leaves a daughter, Jamila Nawfel of Waterville, Maine; three sons, George of Somerdale, N.J., Mitchell of Natick, and Alfred of Arlington; 19 other grandchildren; 34 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the Church of St. John of Damascus in Dedham.

Written by jdunccc

June 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

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Robert Burns, WWII veteran, longtime office manager

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Published on May 20, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B11

One summer, his family gathered at a cottage on Herring Pond in Eastham, Robert Burns led a crowd of his nieces and nephews through the water by boat until the boat began taking on water.

Everyone in the boat leaned to one side, tipping it over. The rest of the family watched from shore as the group of soaked youngsters pulled the vessel to land with Mr. Burns sitting atop the boat, yelling “stroke, stroke!”

Having been stranded on the island of Takeshima for 10 days during World War II, Mr. Burns was never fond of being on open water, but he was happy to direct others in true naval fashion.

Robert F. Burns Sr. of Wollaston, a longtime office manager for Harvard University, died of congestive heart failure at Carney Hospital in Dorchester April 10. He was 84.

Mr. Burns was born in Roxbury and was raised there and in Jamaica Plain.

Before he turned 16, he decided to enlist in the Navy, with the permission of his mother.

He began as a gunner’s mate on oil tankers bringing fuel to troops stationed in Europe and North Africa, before heading back to the Boston area, assigned to patrol the harbor.

“I think he felt like he was protecting the people he knew and his family,” said his daughter, Mariellen Burns of Boston.

He continued on to the Pacific Coast and participated in the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, but he and his crew were shipwrecked on Takeshima.

His leadership during the time led to his nomination for the Silver Star, a history he never shared with his children.

“We only found out about it when we were looking through some papers after he passed away,” his daughter said. “This was very typical of him.”

While serving during wartime for five years allowed him to see the world and interact with different people and cultures, it really made Mr. Burns appreciate all he had, she said.

“He loved to just sit and talk to people and meet new people,” she said. “I think he just took great pleasure in small things, because he never forgot how lucky he was to have those moments.”

Mr. Burns was honorably discharged in February 1946 and returned to Boston. He graduated in 1949 from Jamaica Plain High School and began working in office management at the Smith Corona office equipment company.

A few years later, he met June Rahilly at a summer party on White Horse Beach in Plymouth. Two years later, in November 1959, the pair married.

“I asked him not too long ago how he proposed,” his daughter said.

“He pulled over while driving somewhere that sounded like a place to have a drink on the side of the road – typical guy though, and he couldn’t remember the details or the exact location,” she said.

The couple loved to dance, and friends said they were famous for their skills, ranging from swing dance to the jitterbug.

They had three boys and a girl, and Mr. Burns doted on his daughter, projected his love of sports on his sons, and was an active sports dad.

“He was always, always taking them to hockey and doing that kind of thing,” his daughter said. “He was very encouraging to them, and he kind of had an encouraging word for anyone.”

His loyalty to Boston’s sports teams pushed his kindness to the edge, however, especially when they played major rivals.

“I’ve never heard him say anything bad about anyone besides the Yankees and Canadiens,” Burns said.

After Mr. Burns retired from office management at Harvard University, he went on a golfing trip with his friends, to South Carolina and back.

After their return, he landed a hole-in-one at a course on the South Shore.

In the early 1980s, he followed another passion, music, and joined the barbershop chorus South Shore Men of Harmony with a brother.

Also in retirement he frequented the Moose Club in Braintree to visit his friends, catch up on the news, and do charity work.

June Burns died in 2008. In addition to his daughter, Mr. Burns leaves his sons, Robert F. Jr. of Annandale, Va., Brian J. of Wollaston, and Colonel Stephen T. of Springfield, Va.; two sisters, Nancy Norton of Norfolk and Joan Lake of Norwood; and four grandchildren. Services have been held.

Written by jdunccc

May 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

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Michael Nazzaro, 85; was North End legislator

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Published on April 12, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B12

Soon after striking up a conversation with someone, Michael Nazzaro Jr. would be quick to offer to show a picture of his “pride and joy.”

With three daughters and five grandchildren, many assumed it would be the latest family photo. But people would be taken aback when he pulled out a laminated picture of Pride cleaning solution and Joy dishwashing liquid.

“If you met him 50 times, he probably told you the same joke over and over,” said his youngest daughter, Carla DiOrio of Revere.

Mr. Nazzaro, a longtime prankster and former state representative from Boston’s North End, died of complications of lymphoma March 26 at the North End Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. He was 85.

Born and raised in the North End, he enlisted in the US Army in 1943, soon after graduating from Boston High School of Commerce. After he was discharged in 1946 as a sergeant major, he studied at Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., receiving a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1950.

Mr. Nazzaro immediately accepted a job in Washington with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as a business economist. He assisted in the Korean War effort by working in the Office of Price Stabilization and later worked as a price economist helping to regulate the iron and steel industries.

While in Washington, he learned that parts of Boston’s West End were being torn down in the name of urban renewal and hoped to avert similar circumstances in the North End. He moved back in the mid-1950s, and, after two attempts, won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives representing the North End in 1958.

“Seeing what happened in the West End, he was a key figure in keeping the neighborhood alive and strong,” said Aaron Michlewitz, who now holds Mr. Nazzaro’s House seat.

While in the House, Mr. Nazzaro founded and ran Nazzaro Insurance Agency in the North End, where he would spend most of his Saturdays. Soon after he began his political career, he married Jean Uva and they raised three daughters.

“There were tough times financially,” DiOrio said. “A politician doesn’t make great money, but he was a family man.”

He remained in the House of Representatives until 1964, helping to preserve the North End. He continued with his insurance business and remained a prominent figure in the community.

“He served before my generation, so the neighborhood that we grew up in was such a special place because of Michael Nazzaro,” Michlewitz said. “For that, it’s a huge loss to the community.”

As he grew older, Mr. Nazzaro remained close with his parents, stopping at their home every day on his way to and from work. In the summer, the family would rent a house in Marshfield, and he loved taking weekend golfing trips.

When his daughters began families of their own, he took great pride in his grandchildren and would spend time with them making up stories and silly songs for their amusement.

In addition to DiOrio, Mr. Nazzaro leaves his daughters Laureen Anglin of Medford and Adele Leonardi-LaFleur of Newton; and five grandchildren. Services have been held.

Written by jdunccc

April 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

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Laurine Phelan, devoted mother, at 95; devoted homemaker

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Published on March 19, 2011 in The Boston Globe, page B10

Laurine Phelan never had a driver’s license. In her hometown of Bristol, Conn., there was no need – her home was a quick walk from her church and the bakery, and later she moved just one street from her parents’ home to raise a family of her own.

Mrs. Phelan, a devoted mother and wife, died March 8 at St. Patrick’s Manor in Framingham after a period of declining health. She was 95.

Born Laurine Cawley, she was baptized in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bristol and attended grade school at the church before attending Bristol High School.

“It was a great life. It was a fantastic town to grow up in,” said her son Kevin, of Wellesley.

She attended Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., graduating in 1937 with an associate’s degree. She then worked at Bristol Bank and Trust as a teller until she married Hubert Phelan when she was 27. They wed in the church in which she had been baptized.

The pair moved out West for a few years before returning to Bristol, to reside one street away from her parents. Mrs. Phelan stayed home, raising the couple’s three children.

“She was a great mother in the sense that she led by example, not by noise,” her son said.

Mrs. Phelan also gave back to the community, working with the Bristol Girls Club and serving on the local branch of the Visiting Nurses Board.

Her husband died in 1995, and about seven years ago, Mrs. Phelan moved to Framingham to be closer to her children, five of her grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. “It was a great thing for her later in life that she met all the [grand]kids,” her son said.

Besides her son Kevin, Mrs. Phelan leaves another son, Brian, of Wayland; and a daughter, Patricia, of Wellesley.

Services have been held.

Written by jdunccc

March 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm

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Thelma Prince, 84; assisted with research that led to development of polio vaccine

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Published on March 10, 2011 in The Boston Globe, Page B9

Thelma LeBlanc was just 7 years old when she began singing in the First Baptist Church choir in Peabody.

There, she met Robert Prince, whom she started dating in college and wed in 1951. Together they shared their love of music, staying involved in church choirs until the 1990s.

Mrs. Prince, a researcher involved in development of the polio vaccine, died Feb. 20 in her Arlington home from respiratory problems after a long period of declining health. She was 84.

Born in Salem, she moved to Peabody in the eighth grade and soon found herself drawn to the sciences, straying from the then-typical careers for women.

“She at a quite early age began developing ideas of what she wanted in life,” her husband said. “She was a person who had goals, objectives, and that’s what she went for in everything.”

She was salutatorian of the Peabody High School class of 1944 and earned her bachelor’s in science in 1948 from Simmons College in Boston. During her senior year at Simmons, a professor suggested she would be a good fit for a research position at Harvard Medical School, and she began working there soon after graduation.

At Harvard, Mrs. Prince was on a team that helped Dr. John Enders grow the polio virus in a laboratory, proving a vaccine was theoretically possible. Enders later received a Nobel Prize for the work.

After she and Prince married, they moved to New Hampshire for two years before returning to Massachusetts, where she worked at Tufts University’s School of Medicine before leaving to raise a family.

“I’m just putting it all together now – she loved her children and she was a great mother, and she had to put part of herself aside to do that when it wasn’t the norm to have a career and raise a family,” said her daughter, Janet, of New Castle, N.H.

As a mother, she ran a tight household for her three children, full of to-do lists; and she encouraged her children to pursue their interests and education.

“She was very, very devoted to them,” her husband said. “She showed her love for them by her steadfast way, by doing all those things you would want a mother to do.”

After the children were older, Mrs. Prince went back to working outside the home, serving as a proofreader on a number of projects, including the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3d edition). She had a lifelong love of words, and read the newspaper daily. She also enjoyed crossword puzzles.

Her affection for words gave her a bond with her daughter. A few weeks before her death, she called Janet to share a word she had found in a crossword puzzle that she thought would be good in her daughter’s Words with Friends game, a popular application for Apple products.

Besides her husband and daughter, Mrs. Prince leaves her sons, David of Winslow, Maine, and William of Tarzana, Calif.; and a sister, Marguerite Brooks of East Swanzey, N.H. Services have been held.

Written by jdunccc

March 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

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Marion Wright Crampton, occupational therapist, 96

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Published on March 3, 2011 in The Boston Globe, Page B13

Each Christmas, Marion Wright Crampton picked a photograph of herself from her favorite adventure that year, anything from a safari in Kenya to a local trip in a hot air balloon, to adorn the Christmas card that year.

Her trips ranged from treks to South Africa to Turkey, and she brought back stories and slide shows on a Kodak carousel projector to share with her six nieces and nephews.

Ms. Crampton, an occupational therapist, died Jan. 17 in Winchester Rehabilitation and Nursing Center of atherosclerosis, clogging of the arteries. She was 96.

She was born and raised in Arlington and attended Wellesley College, graduating in 1935 with a bachelor’s in Spanish. She studied at Tufts University Boston School of Occupational Therapy and in 1937 joined the Maryland based American Occupational Therapy Association, of which she was a member until 2003.

Ms. Crampton held a variety of positions in hospitals from Worcester to Hawaii, working in mental health units.

She was eventually employed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health to work with state psychiatric facilities and schools.

Over her career, she earned a variety of awards, but she was not one to brag about her professional accomplishments, said her nephew, Andy of Pepperell.

“She was an amazing aunt, but she was even more amazing as a woman, and we didn’t even know,’’ he said. “It is just amazing how much she was appreciated, and we didn’t know anything about it.’’

He described her as “the ultimate aunt.’’ She would attend every performance possible.

Her involvement continued with her grand nieces and nephews, taking them with her to lunches at Wellesley College. Ms. Crampton leaves a sister, Barbara Jones of Lynnfield, and a brother, Arthur W. Jr. of Concord.

Funeral services were held. Burial was in the family lot in Mt. Hope Cemetery in West Acton.


Written by jdunccc

March 3, 2011 at 12:00 am

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Joseph Martorelli, CPA whose family was everything

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Published on February 25, 2011 in The Boston Globe, Page B12

When Joseph Martorelli met Lenore Teodosio in 2000, he was in the throes of a nearly decade-long fight against lymphoma.

The challenges presented by his health inspired the couple to live “differently; we lived life to the fullest every day,” said Lenore, who married him in 2002.

“We didn’t sweat the small stuff. We knew that he wouldn’t live long – we figured maybe [to] 60. We never imagined it was 50, though.”

Mr. Martorelli, a certified public accountant who preferred to spend as much time as possible with his family, died Feb. 19 at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial infection. He was 50 and lived in Guilford, Conn.

Mr. Martorelli grew up in New Haven in a large and close-knit Italian-American family. The week was punctuated by big Sunday dinners, a tradition his extended family continued at his mother’s house.

He graduated from Eli Whitney High School in Hamden in 1978, and majored in financial accounting at the University of New Haven, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1982.

He began his career at a small financial firm and started working at Saab-Scania of America in Connecticut in 1984. In 1992, he left his position as director of finance and administration to found the accounting firm Orange and Martorelli in Milford.

Since its launch, the firm had collected nearly 1,000 clients, including extensive work with the Boston management and consulting firm Carlisle, Fauth & Gaskins.

A large focus of Mr. Martorelli’s life was his family, especially his daughters, Catherine and Christina, the product of a first marriage, which ended in divorce.

“Family to him was his life; his brilliance was secondary,” his wife said. “Family tradition meant the world to him.”

He also was a volunteer chief financial officer for the Cure Chief Foundation and worked with Stand Up to Cancer and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies.

Recently, Mr. Martorelli became a member of the Knights of Columbus. In 2009, the Milford Columbus Committee, of which he was treasurer, honored him with the special achievement award in recognition of his volunteer and charitable work.

As part of this, he received an apostolic blessing from the Vatican, in a document signed by Pope Benedict XVI.

In addition to his wife and daughters, all of Guilford, Mr. Martorelli leaves his parents, Joseph and Immaculata of New Haven; and two sisters, Rose Guilfoil and Maria Fisk of New Haven.

A funeral Mass will be said at St. Bernadette Church in New Haven today at 10 a.m.

Burial will be in East Lawn Cemetery in East Haven, Conn.

Written by jdunccc

February 25, 2011 at 12:00 am

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