A couple of years ago, I was writing in Dick Howe’s Blog about my father’s losing battle with cancer. He had been exposed to asbestos in the military and had actually lasted longer than many other veterans of WWII who were also exposed. He made it a valiant fight and, in his last year especially, shared with us his pride in being in the Navy during WWII. The disease ultimately killed him, as I explained a couple of years ago.
Mesothemioma is an insidious killer, robbing you of your lungs one by one. There are, of course, only two in you. After his death, I remembered that I had promised him that I would work with then City Councilor Patrick Murphy to name a copse of trees after him. He liked the copse of trees idea because it would not put undo stress on me and Patrick might have an easier time gettng some shade trees named after him then something/anything else.
When I broahed the subject with Rita Mercier, whom I consider to be a friend and a woman I admire, she suggested that a copse of trees might be a bit to simple. She apparently had her eye on something else. So the motion that went to the City Council that Rita seconded, I believe, was to leave what it would be open for that period of time. They let me speak on it, and the entire City Council voted unanimously to recommend to the School Committee that something of some import be named after my Dad. The School Committee, under the stewardship of Mayor Murphy, voted much the same way. They also voted in great strength.
After meeting with the Mayor and Mr. Jay Lang, the Assistant Superintendent, we locked it down to a library or gymnasium. Mr. Lang looked into it, and could not find a library or gymnasium that did not have a name. So he recommended a splendid alternative, the Computer Room at the LHS Library. Granted, my father was not versed in Microsoft, but he was intensely interested in computers as a learnig tool and during my tenure at Wang, had vigorously pushed his children to support them. The result was that I, my brother, Tom, my sisters Liz and Mary all worked at Wang at some point. That was not what my father was pushing for, but it worked out nicely. By 1980, my father had learned enough about computers to realize that they should be a part of the classroom.
I enjoyed talking to my father about computers. It was something we had in common. My brother, Tom, and my sisters Cynthia, Liz, Estelle, and Mary, and myself, had all worked in programming, auditing, or some aspect of high technology.
I was proud of having a father, who, although he was not a programmer, was interested in the world of computers. He told me he applauded Dick Howe, Jr’s. attempts to computerize the Registry of Deeds. I felt that that was a step in the right direction and made it easy to accept naming a Computer Laboratory after my father.
On Saturday, November 16, 2013 we dedicated the room. I would like to thank Mayor Murphy, former City Councilor George Anthes (who is on television every morning on “City Life,”) as well as Councilor Rita Mercier, School Superintendent Jean Franco, Dr. Roxanne Howe, and School Committeeman David Conway, who were all present at the commemoration. In addition, two prominent Lowellians, Mary Abraham and Eleanor Sullivan were present as were most of my brothers and sisters. Two of them coud not make it, but my mother, Jeanne, and sister Margaret flew up from Florida. My sister Liz motored down from Machias, Maine.
My brother Tom and younger brother, Andy, as well as my sisters Mary and Estelle, attended the dedication. I got to speak for the family. Mayor Murphy, Superintendent Jean Franco, ex-City Councilor George Anthes, and Councilor Rita Mercier were also speakers. Rita Mercier informed my sisters and brothers that I was a “pain in the a–” about naming something after my father. I suppose I was.
The entire event went off without a hitch thanks to the assistance of Ms. Mary Bator of Jay Lang’s office. She was wonderful and could not have been more helpful. Dr. Franco and everyone were so nice and it was very nice being able to meet everyone. I would like to thank the City Council, the School Committee, and the School Administration as well as Attorney George Anthes for their kind words and sentiment. It meant a great deal to me and I am humbled by the experience.