Obituary: Peter Holland, Formative Figure In Belmont Education, Has Died

Photo: Peter Holland was Belmont school superintendent until 2008

Dr. Peter Holland, one of the most formative leaders in contemporary Belmont education, died recently, according to an announcement from Belmont School Committee Chair Meg Moriarty at its meeting on Tuesday, April 23.

The former Belmont schools superintendent, who lived in Lexington, was in his 80s. A memorial service will be held on May 11 at Saint Brigid Parish, 1981 Massachusetts Ave., in Lexington.

“He was an innovative and progressive thinker,” said Moriarty.

“It is so sad. [Holland] was truly a wonderful man and administrator,” said Anne Marie Mahoney, who had just been elected to the Belmont School Committee before Holland was hired in 1988. “Peter was so thoughtful, so creative, so fair.”

Holland matriculated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, receiving a master of science in 1970. He began his teaching career as a physics teacher at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore. He earned a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1984.

Holland was hired as Belmont School Superintendent in 1988 following the controversial tenure of Dr. William Carey. Holland would ultimately spend 21 years at the helm, during which Belmont’s schools took major steps in earning a first-rate academic reputation regionally and nationally.

Speaking to Paul Roberts in 2008, Holland recalled that “Belmont was a really good school district when I arrived. But I think we’ve taken it to a different level.” Working with his long-serving assistant Superintendent Pat Aubin, he implemented state education reform in the district and enacted the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which he was not a particular fan of.

“The level of academic work is terrific. I think a lot of that has to do with the teachers, alignment of the curriculum, good staff development, and that’s all under the direction of Aubin. She’s done a masterful job with instruction and assessment. All four of those areas have to be aligned. Pat’s accomplished that.”

One universal praise during Holland’s tenure was his ability to hire the right person for the right job. His effort to fill the Chenery Middle School with young teachers energized the building and resulted in decades of solid educational gains.

“[Holland] was good at hires. He hired really good principals, really good coordinators and directors and they stayed forever. And he supported them. His administrative council was very cohesive and just worked beautifully. He was good at letting people do their jobs. It was awesome,” said Mahoney.

“Peter was involved with every hire,” said Moriarty. “He learned their names and something about them, so when he saw them in the hallway, he could always greet them by their names and mention something special about them.”

By the end of his incumbency, the number of AP courses taught at the high school had jumped from 5 to 26, the number of National Merit finalists had doubled, and approximately 50 high school students had achieved 800 perfect SAT scores by the early 2000s. Those achievements were later recognized by the state and published in publications. In 2009, US News and World Report’s annual Best High Schools in the US edition ranked Belmont as the 100th “best” high school in the US, trailing only Boston Latin in Massachusetts. (This week, Belmont was ranked 383rd out of 25,000 high schools nationally and 16th in Massachusetts which is the top state for high school education.)

Holland also brought his unique leadership talents to the district. One of his first acts as superintendent was reorganizing the central administrative office with new staff while cutting $100,000 from its budget line. He demonstrated his leadership prowess in successfully navigating two significant events in 1995: a teachers strike in January and a fire that closed the Chenery Middle School in July.

“He was just calm. It was like he was saying, ‘Everything’s great. We’re gonna get through this,'” said Mahoney.

He also established Belmont’s participation in the LABBB Collaborative, the cooperative special education program, and championed Belmont’s participation in the METCO program. While Belmont was a member of METCO, he didn’t believe it was an active member. This led to his founding the METCO Superintendents Group, which fought for equitable state funding.

Holland was especially proud of the level of students who participated in community service. When he left in 2008, 10 percent of Belmont High students received the Presidential Medal for volunteering up to 100 hours in the community. A week after his death, nearly 200 student athletes converged on Belmont Cemetary to prepare the grounds for Memorial Day.

“He felt good that students were involved with the wider society,” said Moriarty.

His involvement in Belmont education extended beyond the district office when, in 1993, Holland co-founded the Foundation for Belmont Education. As of 2024, the community group has provided $4.25 million in grants and assistance to finance more than 900 projects that support teachers and programs in the Belmont district.

The Belmont High School Library is named for Holland, who generously donated to its operation a few months before his death.

Obituary: Paul Lyons, Legendary Coach And Noted Belmontian, Died At 85 [Update]

Photo: Paul Lyons in February 2019

Paul E. Lyons, a legendary high school coach who brought to Belmont its only state boys’ basketball championship as well as being a respected educator and Bemontian, died suddenly on Sunday, June 19.

He was 85.

“The loss of Coach Lyons is heartache felt throughout the Belmont, Cambridge and Boston basketball community,” said Adam Pritchard, who played under Lyons then became his assistant before succeeding him as Belmont High head coach in 2000.

“Personally, Paul has been my coach, mentor, and mostly an amazing friend. I loved him and I’m thankful that coach and [his wife] Moira, through their support and generosity, have been in my life through every season for the past four decades.”

Lyons coached the Belmont High boys’ basketball team for a quarter century from 1975 to 2000 and led it to its only state crown in 1993 while winning the Middlesex League title five times. By the end of his Belmont career, Lyons had racked up 335 victories (and 473 overall) and is a member of the Massachusetts Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame. In February 2019, the playing surface at the Wenner Field House was named “Coach Lyons Court” in his honor.

Paul Lyons was Belmont High School’s Boys’ Basketball head coach from 1975-2000

“The one quote I tell my players was that success is not a destination, it’s a journey we take along the way. It’s more important what you did then what the outcome was,” said Lyons at the dedication.

“Before every game as we prepared to go on the court we put our hands in and listened to coach say, ‘Let’s be humble and close as we huddle together tonight. Let’s feel the power that flows from faith and gives us courage and strength as we play. When the game is played and we’ve met the test, please let us know we’ve done our best.’ That sums up everything I know of [Lyons] and he was the best,” said Pritchard.

Lyons and Ralph Jones were the founders of the Belmont Youth Basketball Association in 1977 and the Marauders Basketball Association in 1986 which supports both the high school teams as well as introducing thousands of elementary and middle school-aged children to the game. Nearly all the players on the boys and girls high school teams started playing hoops in the BYBA.

“He was very competitive and always wanted to win, but [Lyons] did so with a great deal of class and integrity,” said Jones after the Belmont School Committee approved the court’s naming.

Jones noted Monday Lyons was also supportive of women’s basketball, using his involvement with the Marauders Basketball Association to provide new uniforms to girls teams when they were wearing handmade kits. “It was very important at the time to show that the women were an equal partner,” said Jones.

“It is still unbelievable he is gone,” said Melissa Hart, the former Belmont High Girls’ Basketball head coach. “He was such a presence in Belmont Basketball from his early years to his grandfathering days, but more so in a lot more loves than Belmont ones. I was fortunate to have known him. Lyons and one of his daughter’s was actually the person who told me about the Belmont Basketball job, encouraged me to apply, and wrote a recommendation for me for it. It meant a lot that he supported me as much as he did. Will be strange to not see him in the stands at some games next year.”

“From my experience with Paul, he was first a devoted husband and father, and devoted teacher of math and basketball skills,” said his friend Chet Messer. “He was a quiet person but a person who loved to laugh. He also loved ice cream after games, thus a regular at Rancatore’s.”

“He taught his teams life skills as well as basketball skills. He requested that each team member give back to basketball later in life. A great example is Adam Pritchard who became an assistant including on the 1993 state championship team and Paul’s successor after 25 years,” said Messer.

Born in Boston in 1936 to Joseph and Catherine (McKeon) Lyons and raised in Cambridge, Lyons attended Cambridge High Latin School and later Boston College on a basketball scholarship – playing on one of the first Eagle teams invited to the NCAA tournament – where he received his BA in Mathematics. (He would later earn a M.Ed. from Boston University.) After graduating, Lyons joined John Hancock where he worked as an actuary.

One of his former basketball coaches became aware of a basketball coaching opportunity in upper state New York and after an interview, Lyons was offered the head basketball coach and assistant football coach posts at Mount Carmel High School. Lyons would return to his hometown to begin a 40-year career in the Cambridge Public Schools first as a math teacher/coach at Cambridge Latin then become head of the math department. As its director, Lyons was required to give up the school’s basketball coaching position. He went on to become the freshman coach at Bentley College, then assistant coach at Harvard University before coming to Belmont High.

He and his wife of 58 years, Moira, were Belmont residents for 49 years.

A loving father of five who dotted on his 12 grandchildren, Lyons’ final post on his Facebook page, dated June 17, spoke of his pride that his granddaughter, three sport all-star Kendall Blomquist from Westwood, was playing for a lacrosse state championship on Monday, June 20.

Westwood won the game.

Lyons is survived by his wife, Moira (Feeley) Lyons; daughter Kathleen Guden and her husband Jay of Belmont, son Michael Lyons of Andover, daughter Patricia Brody and her husband Jeff of Belmont, daughter Sheila Blomquist and her husband Scott of Westwood, and son Kevin Lyons and his wife Chris Ann of Arlington. He is grandfather to Katie, Kevin and David Guden; Ben, Matt and Sarah Brody; Brian, Hannah, Kendall and Sean Blomquist; and Caleigh and Mackenzie Lyons.

He is also survived by his sisters-in-laws Eleanor Feeley, Eileen Feeley, Brenda Lipizzi, and friend Joyce Finerty and by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and devoted friends. 

Visitation will take place on Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 4 p.m., at Keefe Funeral Home, 5 Chestnut St., Arlington. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, June 24, 2022 at 11:30 a.m., at St. Camillus’ Church, 1185 Concord Turnpike, Arlington, followed by the burial at Highland Meadow Cemetery, 700 Concord Ave., Belmont.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Coach Paul Lyons Scholarship Fund at or Pine Street Inn, Boston.

Penny Schafer, Economist and Civic Leader, Dies at 76

Photo: Penny Schafer (family photo)

Penelope “Penny” Schafer, a well-respected environmental economist who lived most of her life on Lewis Road, was known by her family and friends for being “generous almost to a fault,” willingly providing her time and energy to the service of her church, community and civic groups in her hometown of Belmont.

Schafer – who always went by Penny – died on Aug. 26, 2020 in Portland, Me. She was 76. The cause was a stroke suffered at her vacation home in Jefferson, Me.

“She leaves behind a legacy of making the world a better place at both the national and local level,” remembered one of her clients who she worked with at Cambridge-based Abt Associates.

Schafer’s colleagues at Abt recalled her as an amazing mentor, smart, funny, and, most of all, wise. She had an amazing capacity for kindness, while pushing her colleagues to be better than they knew they could.

Schafer was nationally known for her work on the dangers of lead paint and their abatement, working principally with the US Environmental Protection Agency. She conducted risk assessments of the environmental impacts of lead and other pollutants such as mercury and asbestos on the environment, and performed impact and cost-benefit analyses of proposed environmental regulations. She also developed an early Web-based lead database which provided organizations and families with access to data on childhood lead poisoning and facilitated interdisciplinary collaboration in the effort to prevent childhood lead poisoning.

Although she never sought the spotlight, Schafer was dedicated to her community and invested great time and energy in making it a better place for all. She served as an elected Town Meeting Member for 38 years. In addition, she was on the town’s Warrant Committee, which oversees the town budget, including chairing the committee for a period. She also played a vital role on Belmont’s Senior Center Building Committee and the Council on Aging including being its president. 

Schafer was also a dedicated member and officer of the Belmont League of Women Voters, most recently serving on its board and as its treasurer. She also devoted serious time to the First Church in Belmont, serving in various roles since joining around 1978, including most recently on the Parish Board and a just completed six-year tenure as its treasurer. She was an active long-term member of her Radcliffe College Class Reunion Committee.

Schafer was born on April 10, 1944 and grew up in LaGrange, Ill. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1966 and earned a doctorate in Urban Planning with a concentration in Economics from Harvard University in 1976. 

While in graduate school she fell in love with Robert Schafer, and they were happily married for 50 years, celebrating their golden wedding anniversary on Aug. 23, three days before she died.

Schafer is survived by her husband, a son, Karl, and two brothers, Gale and Brad, and their families.

The family is establishing a Penny Schafer Memorial Fund at the First Church in Belmont, 404 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478, to which contributions can be made in lieu of flowers or other gifts. A memorial service will be held once the Covid-19 virus subsides and in person gatherings are again possible.

Obituary: Henry Kazarian, A True Townie Who Traveled The World

Photo: Henry Kazarian

Henry V. Kazarian, a lifelong Belmont resident who became a happy hodophile – the word for those who love to travel – died on Wednesday at Care One Lexington. He was 85.

He died of cancer, according to Donna Gasper, who was Kazarian’s tenant for 38 years, a long-time friend and for the final year of his life his caregiver.

“He was a townie through and through,” said Gasper. “He loved this town.”

For voters who cast their ballots at Town Hall, Kazarian was an election day fixture. The Precinct 2 election warden for many years, Kazarian would greet and assist voters, patiently instructing them on the proper procedure of placing a ballot into the scanner and calling the polls closed at 8 p.m.

“For the Town Clerk’s office, Henry did so much for us and was a dedicated and enthusiastic Election Warden at Precinct 2 and Town Meeting Member of Precinct 4 who consistently represented the Waverley Square area very well,” said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

Born in 1935 to Natalie and Hampartzoom Kazarian, Henry, his parents and his older brother, Vartkess, moved a year later to a two-family on Banks Street (off of White Street) which, with the exception of a few years, would be his home for his entire life.

Kazarian attended the Kendall Elementary School and Belmont Middle School before graduating from Belmont High in 1952. He matriculated at Northeastern University where he earned a BA in history and government with a concentration in English. After graduation, Kazarian enlisted in the US Army and was honorably discharged a year later.

For the next four decades, Kazarian worked for the town of Belmont as a custodian at the Town Hall complex and Police Headquarters.

Kazarian was a Town Meeting member for 28 years, a board member of the Council on Aging and a volunteer at Habitat. He was also devoted to the Beech Street Center, which he promoted to his friends and community during, at times, the contentious debate whether to build it.

After his retirement, Kazarian spent many years as a member of “The Situation Room” made up of old buddies who would steal away the mornings (and sometimes, the afternoons) at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Trapelo Road. Considered the group’s historian and “book of knowledge,” Kazarian told an observer “Whatever is in season is in style here.”

His interests were varied and extensive: softball umpire, following local and high school sports, reading poetry (he had more than 150 volumes) and attending plays by the Belmont Dramatic Club.

“He said ‘I like the Encyclopedia Britannica delivered to my house. I want to learn it from a book’,” said Gasper.

But Kazarian’s true hobby was to set sail with two or three longtime friends and explore the world: Portugal, Spain, Paris, the French Riviera, five times to Mexico (always on the beach) and Hawaii were just a few of the destinations. And it wasn’t just traveling to far flung places: each year he’d drive to Pennsylvania to attend a beer festival before swinging by Cooperstown to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“He would get a fruitcake and take two or three of his boyhood friends up to Montreal for a ‘visit’. He was a character,” said Gasper.

Kazarian began to slow down five years ago, unable to make his daily walk to Harvard Square for a coffee and to read the paper; he’d need to take the bus halfway. After feeling poorly for the past two years, Kazarian was diagnosed in late October with a growth in his stomach that could not be halted.

“Henry faced his last challenge much as he lived his life, courageously with a kind and generous spirit,” said Gasper. “He was a wonderful friend to all and a true gentle soul.”

He is predeceased by his immediate family. Funeral services and church services will be private due to restrictions placed on gatherings A celebration to honor and remember Kazarian will be held at a later date.

Those wishing to honor Henry with a memorial donation in his name may do so by check payable to the Town of Belmont designated for his beloved Beech Street Center, said Kazarian

Obituary: Clayton Christensen, The Disruptive Guru, Dies At 67

Photo: Clay Christensen

Clayton Christensen, long-time Fletcher Road resident and Kim. B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School who wrote the pioneering book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” died last Thursday, Jan. 23 in a Boston hospital.

Christensen, who had been in poor health for more than a decade, died of complications of leukemia, according to Nitin Nohria, dean of the Harvard Business School. He was 67.

“Our family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received over the past few days,” the family said in a statement. “We are humbled by how many lives he has touched. Clayton felt his life would be measured by the individuals he helped and the ways in which he could serve those around him.”

Read Christensen’s obituaries here:

A towering figure in business and life (he stood 6′ 8″), Christensen is known for his 1997 book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” which “The Economist” magazine called “one of the six most important business books ever written.”

The book demonstrates how successful companies can do everything “right” and still lose their market leadership – or even fail – as new, unexpected competitors rise and take over the market. The book hit a chord with many young innovators and took off after the CEO of Intel Andy Grove told an industry conference that “The Innovator’s Dilemma” was “the most important book I had read in 10 years.”

Christensen was born in Salt Lake City and graduated from Brigham Young University after serving two years as a missionary in Korea. After marrying his wife, Christine, he attended Harvard Business School graduating with an MBA in 1979. He joined Boston Consulting Group and later founded a company with several MIT professors.

Just after joining the ranks of academia as a professor at his alma mater Harvard Business, the Christensens bought their house in 1994 on Belmont Hill, expanding the structure 10 years later.

He also dabbled in local matters when in 2012, Christensen promoted the use of internet learning for Belmont High School students in an effort to flatten the expense curve of Belmont’s education costs. 

A person of strong faith, Christensen was active in his local LDS ward, serving as a bishop and as a past member of Area Seventy, Sixth Quorum. After he suffered a devastating stroke, Christensen wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review called “How Will You Measure Your Life?” which became a book on how to achieve a fulfilling life.

Christensen is survived by his wife, Christine, and their children, Matthew, Michael, Spencer, Ann and Catherine Christensen; and nine grandchildren.

Visitations will be held:

  • Friday, Jan. 31 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 15 Ledgewood Pl. in Belmont
  • Saturday, Feb from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 65 Binney St., in Kendell Square, Cambridge

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 65 Binney St, Cambridge.

Obituary: Trevor O’Rourke, 25, Determined To Belong In This World

Photo: Trevor Jamil O’Rourke

Services will be held this weekend for Belmont resident Trevor Jamil O’Rourke who died on Friday, Dec. 7, 2019. O’Rourke, who battled polysubstance abuse for many years, was 25.

Visiting hours will take place in the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home, 36 Trapelo Rd., Belmont on Friday, Dec. 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A celebration of Trevor will be held at Story Chapel in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mt Auburn St., Cambridge on Saturday Dec. 14, 2019 at 1 p.m. Relatives and friends invited.

Trevor attended Belmont Public Schools, Landmark High School, and graduated from Clearway High School. He continued his studies at Westfield State University. 

Born five weeks premature on April 7, 1994, in Boston at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, O’Rourke “came into this world fighting and despite his difficult entry, he was determined to belong in this world,” read a statement from his family.

“Over the past 25 years, Trevor and his family left no stone unturned to find the best fit to meet his educational and emotional needs. Throughout his young life he worked hard in therapy and utilized many special education programs to build the skills needed to overcome his disabilities, and emotional hardships which too often included a sense that he didn’t belong in this world. Despite all his struggles and ups and downs, he had many successes and many moments where he felt he did belong.”

“So many people could see his passion, commitment and perseverance particularly when he took on a new challenge such as the way he spent hours perfecting the treflip skateboard trick, or the vigor and energy he put into his newly found hobby of rock-climbing. These were activities that helped keep his mind focused, his body healthy, and deadly substances at bay.”

“Trevor is not defined by the illness of addiction that took his young life but rather by the strength, fortitude, and courage he put forth to overcome his disabilities and mental health struggles,” said his family.

O’Rourke is survived by his parents James and Laura, sister Dana, brother Brady, soulmate and partner Keri Beucler, maternal grandparents Walid and Carol Pharaon, aunts and uncles Madeline, Jackie, Jane, Edward, Basem and many cousins.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Trevor can be made to Learn to Cope, a support network for families coping with addiction: 4 Court St. Ste 110 Taunton, MA 02780 or Foundation for Belmont Education, PO Box 518, Belmont, MA 02478 or

Obituary: Joseph Scali, Lifelong Resident And Veteran

Photo: Joe Scali from a video created by the Belmont Media Center.

On any election day for the past decade, you would find Joe Scali at the Beech Street Center enjoying the day with his wife, Maryann, as both were officiating at the polls. Whether it was early in the morning or just before the close, Scali would be there to keep company with voters and friends, always with a remembrance of his life living in Belmont and with Maryann.

It will be that less enjoyable entering the polling station in the future.

Joseph A. Scali, a lifelong resident who was involved in town government and youth sports, died on Thursday. He was 85. The cause was not given.

Born in Belmont on July 16, 1933, Scali graduated from Belmont High School in 1950 then enlisted in the US Air Force in 1951, serving in the Korean War. You can watch Scali describe is service to the country on video from the Belmont Media Center.

After returning from his tour of duty in 1955, Scali began his career working in the missile systems division of Raytheon, employed at the defense contractor for 38 years. Shortly after graduating from Boston College in 1960, Scali married Belmont resident Maryann Cogliani. The Scalis raised their three children on Prospect Street since 1965.

Scali was a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 2 since 1996. He demonstrated his interest in supporting vocational education for Belmont students with his involvement with the Minuteman Regional Vocational High School as Belmont’s appointed member to the Minuteman School Committee from 2007 to 2010 and being on the Minuteman Study Committee from 2009 to 2013. 

Scali coached youth basketball, hockey and baseball and was a founder in the mid-1970s of Boston Area Youth Soccer. He was also the treasurer of the Belmont Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Maryann (Cogliani), his children Maryann (and Bruce McCauley) of Westboro, Joseph (and Lisa) of Burlington and Richard (and Tammy) of Sandown, NH; nine grandchildren, Anthony, Kristyn (and husband Peter), Nicholas, David, Mark, Joseph, Sydney, Rebecca, Katie and great-granddaughter Adriana.

Visiting Hours will be held at St. Camillus Church, 1185 Concord Turnpike (Rt .2), Arlington on Thursday, Feb. 7 from 5 p.m. to  8 p.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, Feb. 8 at St. Camillus Church at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Highland Meadow Cemetery on Concord Avenue in Belmont.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Community Benefits Program, Emerson Health Care Foundation, 133 O.R.N.A.C, Concord, MA 01742 or Friends of COA, 266 Beech St., Belmont, MA 02478.

Obituary: Ernie S. D’Agnelli, A Recreation Department Fixture Who Lived For Belmont

Photo: Ernie S. D’Agnelli.

If you or your children spent any time participating in an activity run by Belmont Recreation, you would have come across the big personality of “Ernie D.” For nearly a half-century, Ernie D’Agnelli was a driving force at the Recreation Division, from running it’s summer programs, maintaining the resemblance of order at the Field House to volunteering to cook the BBQ at the opening of the pool season.

“Ernie loved Belmont. He grew up here, went to school here, was a star on the sports fields and later became a coach for Belmont Marauder teams. More importantly, he was a mentor and role model to so many young people over the years,” said June Howell, his longtime friend and work colleague.

Ernie S. D’Agnelli, who touched the lives of generations of residents with his kindness and wide smile, died on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. He was 64.

The cause was a heart attack, said Howell at Monday’s Recreation Commission meeting. 

For 41 years, D’Agnelli was a physical education teacher at the Maimonides School in Brookline. Known as Mr. D, he was an almost legendary personality at the private Jewish day school. But his heart was in the “Rec Department,” said Howell, where he had worked since he was a teenager. He started as a park instructor while in high school and later developed and ran the town’s first summer programs. He could be found at the Field House organizing games for adults during the week and supervising kids on Thursday nights at Open Gym. If there was a program that needed someone to run it, D’Agnelli was there to take on the task.

“He lived for Belmont,” said Howell on Monday.

D’Agnelli was raised in town and graduated from Belmont High School in 1972, where he was a Hall of Fame athlete. He matriculated and played football at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating in 1976. He was an avid fan of Natick and Belmont sports, and for many years was an intricate part of several Belmont youth sports programs.

“We have missed his presence here in the office since his retirement but we will never forget his smile, his booming laugh or the impact he had on our lives,” said Howell.

D’Agnelli is survived by his wife Lynne M. D’Agnelli and their children Kristin Talarico and her husband Lucas, Kerrin D’Agnelli and Lindsay D’Agnelli. He was grandfather of Jack, Co, a and Colin Talarico. He was a son of the late Ernest and Angela D’Agnelli, brother of Lisa Kazanovicz and her husband John of Reading and Andrea Vona and her husband Kevin of Belmont. Also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be in the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home 36 Trapelo Rd. in Belmont on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated in St Joseph Church, 128 Common St. on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. The burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in his memory to the Maimonides School c/o Development Office, 34 Philbrick Rd. Brookline MA 02445.

Obituary: Brian Rogers, Who Nurtured Belmont’s Sports, Died at 65

Photo: Brian Rogers at the 2018 Brandan Home Run 5K in June.

Brian Rogers, the creative talent who nurtured Belmont sports from road racing to youngsters playing ball, died suddenly after being taken to Mt. Auburn Hospital on Sunday, Sept. 31, 2018.

A School Street resident, Rogers was 65. No cause of death was given.

“Brian was a gifted man, with a graceful intelligence and strong moral compass that came from somewhere deep within his soul,” said Casey Grant, who Rogers volunteered in managing the foundation honoring Grant’s son, Brandan. “His legacy in providing selfless, humble service to our local community and beyond [measure] and timeless.”

“He was a quiet, soft-spoken gentleman who never had a bad word to say about anyone, who loved his family and his town, and who made the town a better place to live,” said Peter Noone, a lifelong resident, and close friend. 

For the past two-and-a-half decades, Rogers was known as the race director of the Brendan’s Home Run 5K, running the Father’s Day event since its inception in January 2002. Rogers was one of Brendan Grant’s youth coaches and immediately after the young man’s death in 2001, “provided leadership to the organization and its annual road race to help ensure Brendan’s memory lived on and helped turn the tragedy of his sudden death into many years of incredibly positive things for the town,” said Noone in an email.

Rogers took the small race and developed and promoted it into an all-out annual community fundraiser and get together where Olympians and rising talent ran alongside Belmont residents whose only exposure to running occurred once a year. He saw the race as more than just an athletic event but as a coming together of the people of Belmont, from those who volunteered, contributed time and prizes to the runners themselves, the vast majority being residents.

“This race works on a lot of levels, and that’s the beauty of it,” all of “which keeps the memory of Brendan alive today,” said Rogers at the 2017 race.

But it was baseball where Rogers’ sports affections lied.

“He loved baseball more than even the most die-hard fans,” noted Noone. “He was like an encyclopedia of baseball and had an unmatched love of the history of the game.” He took that love for the game and channeled it working several decades with Belmont Youth baseball, first as a coach, then director, board member, and trustee.

During his tenure at youth baseball, Rogers ran every aspect of the program, from scheduling, organizing teams, cleaning equipment, and running tryouts, as he steered the program in a way that made the baseball program an outstanding youth program that cared about helping every kid, no matter how talented.

“He devoted his life for many years to the program and the kids of the town. He followed the kids in the news after they graduated from High School and moved on to college baseball. Even after he retired from the Board, he would send in clips from newspapers throughout the country that described the successes of Belmont’s players,” said Noone.

Born in Geneva, NY, Rogers graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Communication Design. Rogers started his career as a graphic designer in Chicago and Boston but moved towards the creative side of design as a new business/creative developer at Foster Design Group in  Natick.

In 2000, Rogers and Jeremy Wirth co-founded Labor Day Creatives of Natick, a design firm that creates annual reports, branding, advertising, direct mail, trade shows, packaging and Web design for its client firms.

“He had many roles that channeled his positive energy into making our world a better place,” said Grant. “We are profoundly heartbroken, and we will dearly miss Brian and all the good that he brought to our world.”

He is survived by his wife, Nancy H. (Hall) Rogers, and their son, Justin A. Rogers, both of Belmont. Rogers is the son of Charles Rogers of Marlborough and the late Mary (Connors) Rogers; brother of Charles Rogers of Norristown Penn., Jay Rogers of Wayland, Jon Rogers of Hopkinton and the late Clare Matthews; and uncle of Mark Matthews, Daphne Remarcke, Christopher, Andrew, Megan, Tia, and Grace Rogers.

Visiting hours will be at the Stanton Funeral Home, 786 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown, on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral will begin from the Stanton Funeral Home on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, at 9 a.m. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Church of St. Luke, 132 Lexington St., Belmont at 10 a.m. Burial will be private.

Instead of flowers, contributions in Brian’s memory would be appreciated to:

  • The Brendan Grant Foundation, P.O. Box 184, Belmont, MA 02478-0184 or
  • the Boston Bulldogs Running Club, P.O. Box 470558, Brookline, MA, 02447-0558

Obituary: William ‘Bill’ Skelley; Former Selectman, ‘A True Belmontian’

Photo: William R. Skelley III (Linkedin)

William R. Skelley III, a born and bred Belmontan who served two terms as a Selectman and was known for the honesty and high integrity he brought to town government, died on April 3, 2018, in hospice care in New Hampshire.

Skelley, 70, died from a reoccurrence of cancer he fought for several years, according to close friends.

“He was a mentor to me, one of the best persons who served on the board,” said Mark Paolillo, who spoke to Skelley a few weeks ago. “He was a true Belmontian who served his hometime in a quiet but efficient way.”

“Skelley had a very passionate love for Belmont,” said Jim Staton, a longtime Belmont town official. 

Skelley grew up on Warwick Road with his brothers and sisters. Skelley’s father, William Skelley, spent 40 years on the Cambridge Fire Department retiring as a Lieutenant firefighter in 1982. His mother, Edna K. (Sullivan) Skelley, was a long-time supporter of a Belmont Senior Center. 

An outstanding athlete and student at Belmont schools, Skelley was senior class president at Belmont High School – he was known as “Mr. Belmont High School” – as well as football co-captain his senior year. He was also a member of Belmont’s Division 2 state championship team the previous year.

After graduating from Belmont, Skelley matriculated at Harvard College, playing football for the Crimson and graduating in  1970. He earned a Master’s in History from Boston College in 1972 and an MBA from Boston University in 1976.

Living on Common Street with his wife, Linda, and children, the 1990s was Skelley’s time in town government first elected to Town Meeting from Precinct 5 in 1990. Due to his business background – he worked for Polaroid for nearly a quarter century in customer service and technical support – he was appointed to the Warrant Committee the next year. He was recruited to run for selectman by then-selectman Walter Flewelling and was elected in 1994 and serving until 2000, the final three years as vice chair.

“While he did have differences with other members of the board, he was always looking to do what was best for Belmont,” said Paolillo. Many highlighted Skelley’s involvement in the first Financial Task Force and his major role on the McLean Hospital land agreement. “He also tried to unite what was at times a contentious board. He could do that because he had no ill will to anyone,” said Paolillo. 

Staton said one area Skelley should be praised was his commitment to equality in all areas, as he reached out to Boston innercity youths.

“He was also quite interested in the town’s kids,” said former Board of Health Chair David Alper, who noted Skelley advocated for a Youth Commission to support Belmont’s younger residents. Nearly everyone said Skelley had a “special spot” for youth sports, volunteering on the fields and in the rinks and supporting every team with his presence.

Skilley founded Skelley Medical Company in 1997 which was headquartered in Cushing Square until he moved the operation to Hollis, NH at the invitation of then-Gov. John Lynch, which ended his involvement in Belmont government and saw him uproot to New Hampshire. The firm was praised by President Obama and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and was recognized as the Exporter of the Year for both New Hampshire and New England by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2012.

The company, whose mission was “the reduction of global healthcare costs by providing affordable comprehensive medical equipment solutions,” filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2015, a year after a federal lawsuit was filed against it by a Panama-based investment firm.

With his business closed, Skelley began reconnecting with his hometown, having converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He attended the 50th anniversary of the Marauders championship football team and became a leader in the Veterans Memorial Committee which is seeking to build a new memorial at Clay Pit Pond.

“Bill got involved with the memorial committee not because he was a veteran; he wanted those who did serve to be recognized for what they did for the town and country,” said former Selectman Angelo Firenze, the committee’s president.

His wife, the former Linda Phelps, died a year ago in May just as the couple returned to Belmont. The couple raised their three children, William, Christopher and Maryelizabeth (Fiengo), in Belmont. He was the brother of Barbara Skelley of Belmont, Cathleen Mullins and her husband Kevin of Waltham and the late Ann Marie Carey and Mary Elizabeth Skelley.

Visting hours will be at Stanton Funeral Home, 786 Mt. Auburn St., in Watertown on Friday, April 6 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. A celebration of the Funeral Mass will be held in the Church of St. Luke, 132 Lexington St. on Saturday, April 7 at 9 a.m. Burial will take place at Highland Meadows Cemetery in Belmont.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Community Hospice House, 210 Naticook Rd, Merrimack, NH 03054 would be appreciated.

Correction: Mr. Skelley’s name was incorrectly written the headline. We regret the error.