If you’re a Chelsea student who enjoys scientific exploration, then the Latimer Society’s third annual Chelsea Science Festival is a must-go on your summer calendar.
Latimer Society Co-Directors Leo Robinson and Ronald Robinson are calling this year’s event, “Science Carnival,” which means it will be both educational and fun.
The Carnival will be held on Friday, Aug. 10, from noon to 5 p.m., at the Port Park, 99 Marginal Street. Joseph and Shelagh McNamee of Eastern Minerals have generously donated the facility for the event, and it’s proven to be a perfect venue with its waterfront location.
“What we’re trying to do is bring practitioners of science together with members of the community, children, and families,” said Ronald Robinson. “We’re trying to get our younger students involved in STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math, but we do STEAM and the ‘A’ stands for art.”
Robinson said the event will have local and regional scientists and science-oriented organizations in attendance.
“It’s our big event of the summer,” said Robinson. “We’re also working with CAPIC’s youth development center once a week this summer with a program that helps youth learn about designing.”
What activities can students expect when they arrive at the Science Carnival?
They will have access to interactive stations staffed by representatives from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the Suffolk County Mosquito Board, and of course, the Latimer Society, which is named for the brilliant scientist and inventor Lewis Howard Latimer, who was born in Chelsea in 1848.
“We’re all about promoting science because he [Latimer] was a noted scientist,” said Ronald Robinson.
The event is free of charge and open to students from Chelsea and other communities. Refreshments will be available.
“We expect students from Chelsea, Everett, East Boston, and Revere to be at the carnival,” said Leo Robinson, a longtime city councillor in Chelsea whose life has been dedicated to helping local students and athletes.
In concluding the interview about the Aug. 10 event, Ronald Robinson told a heartwarming story about two Chelsea students, ages 14 and 15, whom he had asked about their future career aspirations.
“One student said he’d like to play at Duke and in the NBA,” said Robinson. “I asked him what else he would like to be doing after college. So now I have him and his friend rebuilding a 3-D printer and they’re really enthusiastic about the project. And that’s what we do at the Latimer Society. We connect our youth with the sciences.”
And Ronald and Leo Robinson having been doing that well at the Latimer Society for more than 20 years.
They would often discuss at family gatherings who was the better all-around athlete, the uncle, Donald Curtis Robinson, or the nephew, Reggie Wilkerson.
Donald Curtis Robinson
Donald was a three-sport standout and All-Star running back for the Red Devils in the 1960s. Reggie was an All-Scholastic quarterback and talented hoopster in the late 1980s.
Donald’s teams twice beat archrival Everett High on Thanksgiving. Reggie led Chelsea to within one victory of a berth in the Super Bowl.
The issue was never resolved but it made for good, healthy laughter among family members young and old. This week Reggie spoke about his beloved uncle Donald and the wonderful example he set for the entire family at the memorial observance.
Mr. Robinson died on Feb. 6 at the age of 68. He was a member of the Chelsea High School Class of 1967.
Donald was not only a star athlete who achieved on the field but a fine student who went on to earn his degree from Northeastern University and enjoy a successful career working for Digital and US West.
Teammates have great memories of the young, humble Donald Robinson who had a magnetic personality and let his actions speak for themselves on the playing field. His talents at the Carter School were known throughout the city even before he first put on the CHS football uniform in 1964.
Dr. Howard Glazer, the quarterback of the 1966 Red Devil team that defeated Everett, 23-8, in the final game of their CHS football careers, remembered his teammate “as a truly wonderful human being.”
“I am terribly saddened by the passing of Donald Robinson, my classmate and sensational football teammate,” said Glazer. “Robbie,” as I affectionately called him, was a great two-way football player.”
Glazer said Robinson was a gifted defensive back and a speedy halfback who could both run and catch with the best.
“Donald was one of the best two-way football players that I had the privilege of playing with at CHS,” said Glazer. “Donald was a true star on the field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and a truly wonderful human being.”
Glazer remembers Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 23, 1966, when Chelsea stunned heavily favored Everett.
“That was the highlight of both our careers,” said Glazer. “In the first we ran a play that we had perfected during the season. It was a screen pass to Donald in the right flank. With great blocking in front of him, Donald ran 70 yards for a touchdown, with the 12,000 fans at Chelsea Memorial Stadium all on their feet going crazy!
“To this day, I can visualize Donald running with his great speed and cutting ability to avoid defender the entire run after the catch,” added Glazer.
The Robinson brothers, Latimer Society Co-Director Ronald Robinson, and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, competed on CHS teams with Donald and on Williams School teams against Donald, who attended Carter School. Donald’s younger brother, Jimmy, would later star on the basketball court at Carter School.
“Before we got to Chelsea High, I remember Donald being a phenomenal athlete,” said Ronald. “It was so heartwarming to here Reggie talk about his uncle at the funeral service and his athletic prowess. Reggie said he used to tell his uncle he was better, but the reality was Reggie was a great athlete, but Donald was special.”
Donald was not a large man by football playing standards, but he had speed to burn and seemed to understand football, according to Ronald.
Donald went on to play at Northeastern University but what Ronald the most about the former Red Devil great was how he used athletics to gain an education and make a path toward a successful life.
“Donald used sports as a way to receive a great college education and make a life for himself and I think he did that,” said Donald. “Donald married a local woman and they had a daughter, who was a beautiful person and pursued higher education with the passion that he did.”
Ronald said many of his teammates paid tribute to Donald Robinson this week.
“So many of our teammates, like Kenny Lava and Dale Johnson, and others said farewell to a great man who set a terrific example for his family,” said Ronald.
Leo Robinson was also profuse in his praise and admiration for Donald Robinson.
“He was just a wonderful person who touched so many people in a positive way,” said Leo. “He had a close-knit family who took great pride in his accomplishments and his success.”
The councillor-at-large said he will call for a moment of silent tribute for Donald Robinson at the next meeting of the Chelsea City Council.
“Chelsea has lost a true sports legend,” said Leo Robinson.
By Cary Shuman
Ronald J. Belanger
Friends and former colleagues are paying tribute to Ronald J. Belanger as a dedicated and innovative Chelsea police officer and a popular and revered member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who served with distinction in Rockingham County for 30 years.
Mr. Belanger, who grew up at 17 Spencer Ave. in Chelsea and attended Our Lady of Assumption, Carter Junior High and Chelsea High School, died on July 14, 2017. He was 78.
Ron Belanger Jr. delivered a beautiful and touching eulogy on behalf of his older sister, Donna Belanger Sandford, and twin sister, Rhonda Belanger Dibiase, and the Belanger family during a Mass held Tuesday at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Salem, N.H.
“I just spoke from my heart,” said Ron Jr. “We couldn’t have been more proud of what he accomplished in his life and of having the honor to be his children.”
Ron Jr. recalled his father’s career in the Chelsea Police Department where he was a detective and created the first CPD Narcotics Detective Squad. It was one of the first local narcotics units in the area and an illustration of Mr. Belanger’s keen vision that drug abuse was a growing issue in the nation.
Upon his retirement, Mr. Belanger moved to New Hampshire and began a second career in public service, winning election to the Salem Board of Selectmen and beginning a 30-year tenure as a state representative. Because of his distinguished record and length of service, he sat in the prestigious “No. 1” seat in the Granite State legislature, according to his son, Ron Jr.
“He was a great father,” said Ron Jr. “He loved being a Belanger. He loved being a brother, a father, grandfather, and great grandfather.”
Mr. Belanger was admired for his commitment to public and community service.
“He loved to serve his community in law enforcement in Boston and for the rest of his life in New Hampshire’s Rockingham County,” said Ron Jr. “I was so honored to read all the tributes to him that were in the newspaper this week.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu praised Mr. Belanger’s career in public service.
“Ron was a giant in Salem politics and made immeasurable contributions to his community as a selectman and Planning Board member and to New Hampshire as a state representative,” Sununu said in an Eagle Tribune story this week.
New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse said in a statement to the Eagle Tribune: “Salem is a better place to live because of his years of service in Concord and as a leader in the community. Ron has been a good friend for many years and he will be greatly missed through greater Salem.”
Many friends and associates from Chelsea and New Hampshire paid their respects to Mr. Belanager at a memorial observance Monday at the Douglas and Johnson Funeral Home.
In Chelsea, Mr. Belanger was remembered as a highly respected police officer and a good friend to the city. He often went the extra mile to help a colleague or a resident in need. His shining personality and warmth could be seen in the three beautiful Belanger children, who were popular among their classmates and friends.
City Council President Leo Robinson said that Mr. Belanager was “your classic, friendly Chelsea guy.”
“He was just a great person who helped so many people along the way. I’m not surprised that he chose a life of public service after his retirement in Chelsea. He had a nice, professional manner and I’m sure his constituents loved having him as their representative looking out for their best interests. On behalf of the residents of Chelsea, I extend my condolences to the Belanger family.”
Mr. Belanger was the husband of the late Dorinne (Sealy) Belanger. He will be sadly missed by his three children, Donna Sandford and her husband, Michael, of Saugus, Rhonda Belanger Dibiase of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ronald Belanger Jr. of Haverhill; his brothers, Richard, Raymond, Donald, and Daniel Belanger, and Norma Schroth; his grandchildren, Louis, Kendra, Ari, Chanelle, Ugo, Diandra, Ronald III, Lauren, Leanne, and Kristi Rose; his five great-grandchildren, James, Payton, Lylah, Manii and Desanii, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions in Mr. Ronald J. Belanger’s name may be made to: Salem Boys and Girls Club, 3 Geremonty Drive, Salem, N.H. 03079.
(Information and quotes from an Eagle Tribune story were used in the compilation of this report).