Appreciation:Those We Lost in 2018 That Made an Huge Impact on the East Boston Community

East Boston Resident,Nobel Prize Nominee and Master of Nonviolent Resistance Dr Gene Sharp Dies at 90

Dr. Gene Sharp, who ran the Albert Einstein Institute for Non-Violent Struggles out of an unassuming apartment in East Boston, and for decades had written the handbooks on how to overthrow oppressive regimes through non-violent means, died on Sunday, Jan. 28, at his East Boston home. He was 90 years old.

Dr. Sharp, who was nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize .

His books have been translated into dozens of different languages and distributed across the globe and have inspired non-violent revolutions in China, Iran and Egypt in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

In 2015, Dr. Sharp was honored for his work, which is widely recognized as a luminary in the development of the study and use of nonviolent action, by District Hall that is located in the Seaport District of Boston, and is an organization dedicated to providing the innovation community with civic space to exchange ideas.

That same year Dr. Sharp was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor he previously received in 2013, 2012 and 2009 for his numerous books on the topic of non-violent struggle. His books have been translated into more than 45 languages and have been studied by activists, students, policy-makers, and others around the globe. Dr. Sharp had received global recognition and numerous international awards, including the Spirit of Gandhi Award, the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize, and the Right Livelihood Award.

Gerald ‘Sully’ Sullivan, Longtime Savio Prep Teacher, Dies at 69

Gerald Sullivan, a beloved educator who taught English and Latin at Savio until the school closed in 2007, died on Monday, Jan. 29 at the Life Care Center in Stoneham after battling cancer.

During his teaching career Mr. Sullivan’s love for words, poems, and literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway inspired generations of students to turn to books and poetry as a way to escape the stresses of daily life. He taught his students the therapeutic nature of reading and encouraged each student to read at least one hour every night.

However, Mr. Sullivan was by no means mainstream and while students were introduced to the classics like The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby, his love for more under appreciated works set him apart from other teachers. In his class students could be found reading Nathanael West’s “The Day of the Locust” or an anthology of poetry by W.D. Snodgrass, who would occasionally visit Mr. Sullivan’s English Class and read poetry to students when in Boston. Randall Jarrell’s five line poem ‘The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” was one of Mr. Sullivan’s favorites and he would analyze the poem’s imagery for days with students.

“(He was a) great man who left a lasting legacy in the hearts and minds of his students,” said Matt Ohlson. “His passion and commitment will not be forgotten.”

Aside from his love of poetry and literature Mr. Sullivan was a huge fan of classic films like Casablanca, Little Caesar and numerous others. He would entertain his students at times with his spot on impersonations of Edward G. Robinson or Charlie Chaplin.

He also had a very large and eccentric collection of old Blues records in his office and at some point during the day students could hear Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or Howlin’ Wolf blasting from his record player.

“If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” said Joseph Ricupero. “I don’t think Sully ever worked a day in his life because every single day, you could tell how much he loved teaching.”

James “Jim” McGrane, longtime East Boston educator, dies at 73

James “Jim” McGrane, a man who spent his career as a friend and mentor to hundreds of East Boston children over the years, has died.

McGrane died suddenly on Saturday, Feb. 24 in Naples, FL . He was 73 years old.

McGrane dedicated his life to educating children and youth in Eastie for nearly five decades through the Boston Public Schools and was instrumental in not only the success of the former East Boston Camps but also the neighborhood’s substance abuse programs like North Suffolk Mental Health and the Meridian House.

He spent most of his teaching career at the former Barnes School before it merged with the Mario Umana Academy. During his time as a teacher McGrane became a mentor and guiding light in the lives of many students that passed through his classroom.

Aside from teaching McGrane, like Marty Pino and Jack Forbes, was a monumental influence on the success of the former East Boston Camps.

“Jim helped my wife Cindy and I tremendously through our lives,” said longtime friend John Forbes. “Jim and his late wife, Pam, had a great relationship and were tremendous parents. We looked up to them and their example really helped us as we were starting our own family. We both had the good fortune of working for Jim at East Boston Camps for many years. He taught us many things such as, to respect others opinions, to treat all with dignity and respect, and of course to have fun. He cared very deeply for his students and East Boston Camp Family. If you knew him you loved him. We will miss him terribly but his legacy will live on through all that he touched.”

Luigina ‘Gina’ Scalcione, Longtime Community Activist, Dies at 77

Luigina “Gina” Scalcione, who dedicated her life to the betterment of her beloved community through community activism, has died.

Mrs. Scalcione, a legendary fighter for citizens’ rights that gave voice to numerous causes and countless disenfranchised residents, passed away on Wednesday, February 28, at Mass General Hospital in Boston following a brief illness. She was 77 years old.

An immigrant from Mirabella-Eclano, Italy, Mrs. Scalcione, or “Gina” as she was affectionately known in East Boston, moved with her family to the United States when she was a young woman. She lived for more than six decades in the family home on Frankfort Street her parents had purchased after immigrating to East Boston.  The home would later be ground zero for late night strategy meetings, political discussions and community organizing during the height of the community’s fight against airport expansion and a third harbor tunnel.

A natural leader, Mrs. Scalcione had a knack for gathering people to rally around any development, encroachment or threat that would negatively impact the quality of life for her family, friends and neighbors.

“She was a true activist,” remembers former State Representative Emmanuel “Gus” Serra. “She was always outspoken, always said what she thought was the right path forward. She had the uncanny ability to gather people around a cause and to support her position. But equally as important she got us, the elected officials, to pay attention to her point of view and the point of view of residents. We always knew that when Gina called it was an issue that deserved our immediate attention. Over the years there are certain people that stood out during my tenure at the State House and she is defiantly at the top of the list.”

Former East Boston State Representative Michael D’Avolio Dies

For longtime East Boston politicians like John Nucci former State Rep. Michael D’Avolio was a man many aspired to be.

“For us growing up in East Boston who got involved in politics at an early age, men like Michael D’Avolio were rock stars who could rally 500 people at the drop of dime around any cause,” said Nucci. “Rep. D’Avolio, George DiLorenzo, Mario Umana, these guys were larger than life at a time in the neighborhood’s history when you needed voices to be strong, passionate and committed to the betterment of East Boston.”

Mr. D’Avolio, who served three terms in the House of Representatives in the 1960s during the height of Logan Airport expansion, died on Friday, March 9 surrounded by his family. He was 92 years old.

“Mike was an eloquent and learned gentleman,” said Nucci. “Yet when it came to airport expansion he fought as hard as anyone and he never forgot where he came from. He made East Boston proud to call him our state representative. He was so well-spoken and articulate.”

During Logan Airport’s expansion into the Neptune Road neighborhood, Mr. D’Avolio emerged as the opposite of the more bombastic state representatives at the time.

Benny Tauro, Businessman, Community Leader,

Passes at 85

Benito “Benny” Tauro, the soft-spoken East Boston businessman, community leader and philanthropist who spent a lifetime fighting to protect the quality of life for residents and preserve the neighborhood’s Italian-American culture, has died.

Mr. Tauro, or ‘Benny’ as he was affectionately known throughout the community, died on Saturday, March 24 surrounded by his loving family. He was 85 years old.

When Mr. Tauro immigrated from Avellino, Italy to East Boston in 1952 he brought with him a strong sense of family and the belief in the Catholic Church. It was here that he found a second home among East Boston’s Italian community that was part of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

“If it wasn’t for this Church, I probably would have gone back to Italy,” Mr. Tauro told the East Boston Times in 2011. “Here I found a second family, and we all became very active members of the church and community.”

Mr. Tauro spent his career building several successful businesses. After arriving in East Boston from Italy Mr. Tauro founded Empire Sportswear in Lynn before starting Logan Sportswear on Saratoga Street. His next investment was Day Square Door & Window and in the 1980s he purchased Logan Glass, a business his family still runs today.

Mr. Tauro was perhaps best known as the owner of the former Rapino Funeral Homes in East Boston both in Maverick Square and in Orient Heights.

Through his business ventures Mr. Tauro became one of the most celebrated businessmen in the community, and was named East Boston’s Businessman of the Year.

Former City Councilor Sal LaMattina, a longtime friend of Mr. Tauro, said Mr. Tauro was a true East Bostonian.

“Benny was someone who I loved and admired,” said LaMattina. “Benny was an immigrant from Italy who came to America to make a better life for he and his family.  He worked hard as a businessman in East Boston and he gave back to his community. He was involved in many East Boston groups and was so proud of his Italian heritage and tried to keep it alive with his work with Italia Unita. I am so fortunate to have him and his family as friends and I will miss him terribly.”

Dr. James Taylor, founding member of the

EBNHC, dies

Dr. James Taylor, M.D., who was a revered and respected figure in the healthcare field both here in East Boston and nationally, has died.

Dr. Taylor, who dedicated over 40 years to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) in the role of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) before his retirement in 2011, died in Brookline on Sunday, August 12 after a brief battle with Parkinson’s Disease with dementia.

“Dr. Taylor served our community as CMO for more than four decades, retiring in 2011,” said EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes. “He devoted his career to meeting the health needs of a complex community by caring for individual patients, planning public health interventions to reduce disease, and nurturing clinicians and staff. He was a prominent role model for responding creatively to the challenges of health care delivery and helping others maximize their potential by treating them with dignity. With his irrepressible perseverance, Dr. Taylor had tremendous impact on the health of East Boston and surrounding communities. Each one of us who had the good fortune of working alongside Dr. Taylor became better providers, better leaders, and even better people as a result. It is not possible to articulate his impact in our community. The space he leaves will never be filled.”

As a young doctor in the 1970s Dr. Taylor’s work with the elderly on aging issues like hypertension, heart disease and diabetes brought him to East Boston. Dr. Taylor found that many of his patients had little or no access to quality healthcare due to the neighborhood’s geographic isolation to the rest of Boston. With only a medical relief station to care for the population Dr. Taylor knew it was time for a full fledged community health center in the neighborhood.

Dr. Taylor has devoted his career to meeting the healthcare needs of the community by caring for individual patients, planning public health interventions to reduce disease, and nurturing clinicians and staff.

He soon became a role model for responding creatively to the challenges of healthcare delivery and helping others maximize their potential by treating them with dignity. With his trademark perseverance, Dr. Taylor had tremendous impact on the health of East Boston and surrounding communities.

As a physician and leader, Dr. Taylor set and inspired high expectations for professionalism among colleagues and created a supportive work environment. As a result, he attracted clinicians and staff who devoted their careers to EBNHC.

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