To the editor:
Having played an integral role as master of ceremonies and program chairman of Hector Massa’s 90th birthday celebration and roast recently, I must admit I never thought I could pull it off. Thanks, however, to my supportive wife, Bunny, and several others, we were able to piece this, at times complicated puzzle together, and finish what many termed, a classic event.
Shirley Massa, Hector’s adoring wife of 35 years, was a little apprehensive as time grew closer to the celebration, fearing for my health, which unexpectedly went south this past fall. But a new doctor and modern medicine did the trick, and I was just about back to normal as the party day approached. Shirley let out a sigh of relief.
I’ve been around testimonial dinners, retirement parties, and hall of fame banquets long enough to know that it takes a great deal of hard work and patience to successfully orchestrate a birthday party like Hector’s. We ended up with 300 people, most of whom were Bristolians. However, there were a number of others who traveled here from as far away as California, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
It took us a year-and-a-half of planning, but in the end, it was well worth the effort.
I wanted to thank a number of people for helping make this celebration one of the best Bristol has seen in many years. My wife deserves to be recognized for helping lay the ground work starting back in 2011, while handling mailing addresses and invitation responses in professional fashion. She helped coordinate this affair to perfection.
It would behoove me to recognize my good friend and former Bristol Athletic Hall of Fame chairman, Richard J. Travers, for accepting my invitation to give the toast. He did it eloquently … with style and grace.
Also to be commended is the Bristol Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, for presenting Hector an original hand-painted oil portrait that the recipient still gets emotional when looking at.
So, too, are the citation and proclamation (Dec. 30, 2012 was declared “Hector Massa Day” by the town) presented by local officials.
Then, there were the selected “roasters,” who marched to the podium one by one to personally congratulate the man of the hour, while adding a little humor and reverence at the same time.
In thanking everyone who attended, Hector said he never expected a celebration on his behalf like this one. But, all you have to remember is that people don’t forget. All of these folks, young and old alike, recall a time when Hector Massa was as big as life, whether it was as physical director at the Bristol YMCA; director of the famed YMCA Day Camp Hess on Hog Island; or the popular athletic director at Roger Williams University.
Kids were very much a part of this man’s physical makeup. He couldn’t do enough for them. As they grew older and became outstanding citizens, it was only fair and proper that they come out in support of the man many considered a second father.
Hector Massa deserved this type of testimonial, even though it was classified as just a birthday celebration. No one was more worthy of this acclamation. No one.
Manuel C. “Manny” Correira
To the editor: