Richard Feinberg, a beloved Chelsea High School teacher and a member of a longtime and well-known Chelsea family, died unexpectedly Monday. He was 70.
The son of the late Julius “Moxie” Feinberg and Helen (Bulafkin) Feinberg, Richard, or “Richie” as many knew him, grew up in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea High School, Class of 1965. He was the wise and witty older brother to whom Stuart and Ralph looked for guidance and support. In fact, Stuart and Ralph followed their brother in to sports while Stuart again took the track of his brother in to high school basketball officiating.
At CHS, Mr. Feinberg was a popular, civics teacher who took an interest in his students’ aspirations and goals beyond the classroom.
“He’s my all-time, favorite teacher,” said Robert Brooks, CHS Class of 1981, who was among the many people who attended graveside services Tuesday for Richard Feinberg. “He was wonderful. He taught me so many great lessons in school and just about growing up in Chelsea. Even after I graduated and I wasn’t sure what direction I would take in life, he kept in touch with me and advised me. I had to be here today to honor Mr. Feinberg.”
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson knew the Feinberg family well while growing up in Chelsea.
“Richie was a really good friend who gave back to our community,” said Robinson. “He and his father were instrumental at the Chelsea YMHA. I remember Richie refereeing in the Wild Animal League and he was always professional and fair in his calling of the games. Chelsea has a lot a great guy and another key figure in our city’s history.”
State Secretary of Housing and Economic Jay Ash, a former basketball star at CHS and Clark University, said that Richie Feinberg was a positive influence during his life.
“He was a mentor of mine, an influential character during my lifetime,” said Ash. “He was a tremendous educator and loved politics and loved community.I stayed in touch with him after high school and college and after being city manager. As secretary, I had the opportunity to speak to his class at Bunker Hill Community College. He loved politics and loved to be in the middle of everything. This is a big loss for all of us.”
Following his years as a teacher at Chelsea High, Richie went on to work at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield and to serve as an adjunct professor of government at Bunker Hill Community College. He shared a love of education with his wife, Laural, who was a highly respected educator in the Lynn school system for 35 years. The Feinbergs have one daughter, Julie Lucas, of Lynn, and two grandchildren, Dylan and Kyle
A top basketball referee
Richie was also well respected on the high school basketball scene as both an outstanding referee and the dedicated commissioner of the Dual County League. He enjoyed mentoring new members of the basketball refereeing fraternity.
“I refereed with Richard and it was a great experience – he knew how to handle a game,” said Mike Muchmore, past president of IAABO Board 130. “He was my mentor. He’s the first commissioner that gave me a varsity game. He was meticulous. He would call every referee and ask them how things went.”
Paul Halloran, also a past president of IAABO Board 130 and a well-established college referee, said Richie’s expertise and goodwill extended beyond the basketball court.
“Richard was a well-rounded guy with expertise in many areas: antiques, basketball officiating, horse racing, politics, poker,” said Halloran. “He could engage in a thoughtful, thorough conversation on any of them at any tume. He was a real character and he will be sorely missed.”
Richie served on the Swampscott School Committee for 15 years, receiving a strong, town-wide vote in each election. Stuart Feinberg said politics was one of his brother’s passions.
“He loved Chelsea and politics was his baby,” said Stuart. “He was on the Swampscott School Committee and loved politics in general. He also loved sports and enjoyed gambling.”
Stuart said Richie always helped people whenever they called upon him for a favor or some assistance.
“He loved teaching and loved his students and he tried to help as many people as he could – he did as many favors as he could, that’s how he was, just a good person,” said Stuart. “Like everybody else, I was stunned by his unexpected passing.”
As a brother, Richie was top-shelf, according to Stuart.
“I looked up to him – he was a great brother to Ralph and me,” Stuart said emphatically. “He was fun to be around and I really enjoyed him. Especially for me, I’ll really miss him.”