When the Chelsea Youth Baseball League, more widely known as the Pony League, was at its height of popularity from the late 1960s through the 1980s, when large crowds made their way to Merritt and Voke Parks for nightly games, James “Bear” Burke was one of the true coaching legends.
Mr. Burke, a Chelsea baseball coaching force and former employee of the Chelsea DPW, died on Jan. 24, 2018. He was 75.
The managers in the Pony League were giants in the eyes of their players. Pony League was huge in those days and you had to tryout and be selected in a player draft.
You begin with manager Larry Notkin, whose eye for talent was second to none and whose Red Sox, Cubs, and Royals teams were always a title contender. Al Palladino was the knowledgeable and nervous manager of the Twins (and then the Yankees), perpetually dispensing words of baseball wisdom to his players.
Paul Casino, clerk to the Chelsea City Council, was so popular and respected as the manager of the Angels. He was elected easily to the Chelsea School Committee and Board of Aldermen and served this city well. Casino coached some of the league’s all-time greats including Bobby Spinney, Paul Spracklin, and Eric Shuman.
Richie Pezzuto was the highly energetic manager of the Astros, taking Dennis “Hawk” Murray as the No. 1 pick in one of the drafts and building a powerhouse.
George Triant managed the Orioles, who with a lineup of Mike Lush, Jerry Dion, Bobby Ham, Larry Skara, Wayne Morris, Paul Halas, and other big-time players, became the only team in league history to go undefeated.
Steve Socha took over the Red Sox and had all-time Little League All-Star southpaw Paul Wheeler, a terrific hockey and baseball player, on his roster.
And then there was Jimmy “Bear” Burke, the beloved manager of the Pirates who exuded his enthusiasm for the game of baseball every time he stepped on the field. The “Bear,” as he was affectionately known, knew his baseball well. His in-game exchanges with the other managers, especially Notkin, were of a competitive nature. All the managers were friendly rivals trying hard and devoting countless hours of practice time to their teams with the hope of claiming the coveted playoff championship.
Al Palladino remembers tangling with “Bear” as an opposing coach and then having him as his assistant coach. He has fond memories of his longtime friend.
“I feel so bad that Bear has passed away,” said Palladino. “He was such a good guy. He had a kind heart. I coached against him when he had the Pirates and he came back and coached with me when I had Paul Nowicki on my team.”
Palladino recalled a humorous interaction that the Bear had with another local sports legend, the late Arnold Goodman, during a league meeting. “They were on opposites of an issue but the Bear stood up and said, ‘I make a motion because Arnie Goodman says so,’ “and everyone in the room just broke out in laughter because Jimmy and Arnie had finally agreed to agree on the matter.”
Bucky Cole, one of the Pony League’s greatest ballplayers, was a member of Bear’s Pirates team in the mid-1960s. Cole joined the Pirates after a sensational career in the Chelsea Little League where he was that era’s Mike Lush.
“I was a proud member of his Pirates team and we played Larry Notkin’s Red Sox team in the finals and we lost to them,” recalled Cole. “The Bear put his heart and soul in to coaching. He really loved coaching. He and Larry were good friends but they were always rivals to the final game. It was like the Yankees and the Red Sox going at it. He was a great guy.”
Cole said he also worked with James “Bear” Burke in the Chelsea Park Department.
“What’s interesting is that my son, Tommy, also had the Bear as a coach when he was 16 years old,” said Cole. “That’s how long he coached.”
And that’s how long the Bear was a positive influence on Chelsea youths – for a lifetime.
The city of Chelsea has lost another widely revered personality in its sports history.
Of New Hampshire, formerly of Chelsea
Hennie (Schneider) Berkowitz of Hampton, NH, formerly of Chelsea and Miami, Florida, passed away on May 20.
She was the beloved wife of the late Barney Berkowitz; devoted mother of Bruce R. Berkowitz and his wife, Tracey, and Rhonda Jeffrey (Berkowitz). Proud grandmother of Daniel, Alexander and Chloe Berkowitz and Todd Drummey and Kelly Grimmer and great grandmother of Hunter, Aria, Hailey, Dylan and Olivia.
Graveside services were held at Sharon Memorial Park, 40 Dedham Street, Sharon. In lieu of flowers, donations in Hennie’s memory may be made to the Rockingham VNA and Hospice, 137 Epping Road, Exeter, NH 03833.
For additional information, visit: www.stanetskycanton.com
Lawrence Erickson, Jr.
Retired self employed contractor
Lawrence F. Erickson Jr. age 67 of Hampstead, NH, formerly of Chelsea, died at the Elliot Hospital, Manchester, NH.
Larry was born in Chelsea where he grew up and was educated. He was a resident of Hampstead, NH for the past seven years and formerly lived in East Kingston, NH for many years.
Larry was a retired self-employed contractor who built many homes in southern, New Hampshire. He also built a school and prison. He was a US Air Force veteran, a member of the Kingston Veterans Club and an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting and fishing. Most of all, Larry loved being with his family.
He was the son of the late Lawrence and Irene (MacDonald) Erickson. He is survived by his beloved wife Lee (Arnold) Erickson of Hampstead, NH, formerly of Chelsea, where she and Larry met in high school. He is also survived by his children: Raymond and his wife, Lisa Erickson of San Antonio, TX, Jill and her husband, Christopher Luczkow of East Kingston, NH, Chad and his wife Dawn Erickson of Westfield, MA, and Lauren Erickson of Manchester, NH. He is also survived by his sister Gail Erickson of Newton, NH, and his grandchildren Morgan, Shane, Ty, Samuel, Vivian, and Natalie., Larry is also survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.
A memorial service was held on at the Carrier Family Funeral Home & Crematory in Windham, NH. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Rd, SW, Lilburn, GA 30047, or to the Kingston Veteran’s Club, 36 Church St, Kingston, NH 03848
To send an online condolence to the family, please view the obituary at www.carrierfuneralhome.com
Of Billerica, formerly of Chelsea
Larry V. Dahlquist passed away at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington on November 1 following a brief illness. He was 67 years old.
Born in Fall River, he was raised in Chelsea, one of seven children born to Lawrence V. and Atheldra (Smith) Dahlquist.
Larry attended Chelsea Schools and worked as a Boston Independent Taxi Driver for many years. A longtime Chelsea resident, he settled in Billerica with family 15 years ago. In his life time Larry enjoyed home gardening and landscaping.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Gary and Wayne E. Dahlquist. He is survived by his three sisters: Linda Cotto of Peabody, Gail Michalski and her husband, Walter of Billerica and Darlene Dahlquist of Chelsea, one brother, Keith Dahlquist of Revere and his sister-in-law, Evelyn Dahlquist of Chelsea. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are most kindly invited to attend a memorial gathering and visiting hours at the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home, 718 Broadway, Chelsea on Friday November 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. The Funeral Home is fully handicap accessible, ample parking opposite Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA 01701. For directions or to send expressions of sympathy, please visit: www.WelshFuneralHome.com
Irene J. (MacDonald) Erickson of Chelsea died on September 28.
She was the devoted wife of the late Lawrence F. Erickson, Sr.; beloved mother of Lawrence F. Erickson, Jr. and his wife, Lee of Hampstead, NH and Gail Erickson of Cape Coral, Florida; sister of the late Alice Higganbotham, Anna VanLaethem, Harold, William and Hugh MacDonald, Ruth Sartorelli, Katherine Baker, Margaret Geranian, Shirley MacDonald and Marion Williamson; cherished grandmother of Raymond Erickson, Jill Luczkow, Jared and Erik Saunders and Chad and Lauren Erickson and is also lovingly survived by her great grandchildren, Morgan Erickson, Mikaylah Saunders, Ty and Shane Luczkow, Samuel, Vivian and Natalie Erickson as well as by many nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services were held on October 1 with interment following at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett.
To send a message of condolence to Irene’s family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com
Erik Charles Saunders
Of Dunedin, Florida.
Erik Charles Saunders, age 37 of Dunedin, Florida.
Erik was born on July 8, 1978 in Chelsea, MA. He struggled with addiction for many years and lost the battle on Friday, October 30th, 2015.
Erik was the son of Gail Erickson of Cape Coral, Florida and William Saunders of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Father of Mikaylah Saunders, age 12, of Dover, NH. Brother of Jared Saunders and his wife Lauren Saunders of Haverhill, MA. Grandson of the late Ralph Saunders of Chelsea, MA and Barbara Saunders of Quincy, MA. Grandson of the late Irene and Lawrence Erickson of Chelsea, MA.
Wilson Bramwell Tuffin
Chelsea always remained close to his heart
Wilson Bramwell Tuffin of Acton, formerly of Chelsea, passed away on October 26 at Emerson Hospital in Concord. He was 84 years old.
Wilson was born in Chelsea on May 19, 1931 to Claude and Mina Blanford Kearley Tuffin, both of whom came to the United States from Herring Neck, a small fishing village in Newfoundland, Canada. Chelsea and Newfoundland remained close to his heart throughout his life.
In the 1950’s, Wilson left Tufts University early to volunteer for service in the U.S. Army at the time of the Korean War. He served at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was honorably discharged at the rank of Corporal E-4.
From 1971 to 1996, Wilson served as President and CEO of NMI in Concord where he championed his fellow employees.
In addition to devotion to his family, Wilson dedicated himself to his faith and his community, serving and giving back throughout his life in support of causes ranging from independence for people with disabilities, to local families in need, to cultural and historic preservation. He served for many years on the board of Emerson Hospital. In 1989, he was named National Philanthropist of the Year by the Easter Seals.
Everyone he met was struck by his optimistic spirit, generosity and profound concern for others. He was a devoted fan of the Boston Red Sox, attending games at Fenway Park in nine different decades, including 40 consecutive home openers with a group of dear friends. He loved his morning coffee group at Donelan’s in Acton.
An extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, neighbor, friend and colleague, Wilson will be long remembered with big smiles and deep gratitude.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Janice Marie Goeke, whom he met when they both worked for Nuclear Metals Inc. (NMI) in Concord. He is survived by his daughter, Amalie; his son Michael and daughter-in-law Michelle; and his son John Barry and daughter-in-law Nikki. He is also survived by five grandchildren who were the lights of his life; Anastasia Ellsworth Tuffin, 11; Wilson Bramwell Tuffin II, 9; Giles Barry Tuffin, 7; Lilly Kearley Tuffin, 6; and Jack Ranieri Tuffin, 3.
Funeral arrangements were by the Acton Funeral Home, 470 Massachusetts Ave., (Rte 111) Acton. Burial was in Woodlawn Cemetery, Concord Road., Acton Ctr. For condolences and Memorial Page, visit: www.actonfuneralhome.com
Marc Mazonson is serving as the chairman for the Chelsea High School Class of 1965 Fiftieth Reunion to be held at the Kowloon on June 7.
Marc Mazonson said that in the early 1960s students for the most part attended Shurtleff, Williams, or Carter schools through the ninth grade before moving on to Chelsea High School for their sophomore year.
Mazonson is hoping to be in the company of as many of his former high school classmates as possible when the CHS Class of 1965 gathers for its fiftieth reunion on June 7 at Kowloon in Saugus. Mazonson is the chairman of the event, assisted by Larry Sneirson, who is known by his stage name, Larry Lee Lewis, a professional standup comedian. Inez Pragg Cole is also serving on the reunion committee. The president of the class was Steven Padulsky.
“We’re calling the reunion, ‘The Real Deal,’’’ said Mazonson. “This is our fiftieth reunion for the Class of 1965 only. We expect a large crowd. Right now we have about 150 people who have indicated they’ll be there.”
The reunion committee has invited Chelsea City Clerk Deborah Clayman to be an honored guest at the reunion. Clayman is the wife of the late attorney, Richard I. Clayman, who was a member of the Class of 1965.
“Everybody loved Richie Clayman,” said Mazonson. “Richie was friendly, down-to-earth, so generous to people, and a great attorney. We’re so pleased that Deborah will be there for the beautiful tribute we have planned for Richie and our other deceased classmates.”
Mazonson said the CHS principal in 1965 was James Cotter. The faculty included teachers Gilbert Cherry, Paul Eckman, George Barooshian, Max Leader, James Welch, Sheldon Greenglass, Dr. Max Ross, and Rebecca Mack.
“I grew up Chester Avenue,” said Mazonson. “I went to Shurtleff from grades one through nine and then I went on to the high school. Chelsea was a great place to grow up as a kid. You walked the streets day or night and it was safe. Mothers would take their kids down Broadway on Saturdays for sidewalk sales in the stores.”
He said people would often congregate in Broadway restaurants such as The Bel Del, Murray and Eddy’s, Wing’s, and Tony’s Spa.
The reunion will feature a Chinese buffet dinner, music, and dancing. Mazonson will deliver the welcoming remarks while Sneirson will lead a brief speaking program.
“We’re looking for a marvelous night of fun and reminiscing about the good, old days,” said Mazonson. “We want people to see their friends and have a great time.”
Tickets to the Class of 1965 Reunion are $35 per person. Classmates should contact Marc Mazonson at 617-889-2004 or email@example.com for information about the reunion.