Pat – A Friend, a Teacher, and a Leader from Fred Misilo

I first learned of Pat through his writings on leadership and management. His lessons have continued to be great value to me. However, I became a real fan of Pat when a I and some others in Holden worked with him on the School Building Committee. I saw him at work in meetings which he chaired firmly, yet fairly; I saw him present at hearings and handle critical questions with tremendous grace and confidence and I knew him as a friend and colleague. A telling moment in my understanding and appreciation of Pat came after an unexpected loss of an over-ride vote for a modest tax increase to continue, as I remember it, some repairs in an existing school. Those of us in the “pro-school” camp were shocked. If the voters wouldn’t support a modest tax increase to repair an existing school, a large over-ride to build two new schools and to renovate a third seemed impossible. But not to Pat. Within a week, I met with him. The unexpected loss of the vote had increased his resolve to turn the political climate on the school issue. He took it upon himself to initiate donations to a PAC that published very persuasive educational materials on the need for new elementary schools in Holden. He collaborated with many, led the charge in endless hearings and was resolute in his passion. We could feel the tide turn. I remember early one morning working on a sign-stand out with him at the corner of Chapel Street and Shrewsbury Street, in front of what is now the vet clinic. We were getting “thumbs up” signals, waves and honks. I can still remember Pat’s face that morning whcn he looked at me with that wide, toothy grin of his and said, “We’re going to win this thing.” And win we did. As a result, two brand new elementary schools were built and a third was substantially renovated. That win was the result of collaborative efforts of many, many people. But those of us who were there in the trenches know the indispensable role Pat played in getting a successful vote. After the win and during the early building phase for the Mayo School, Pat invited me to his house along with others to watch a video of the site being cleared. The excitement Pat exuded when watching the trees come down to make way for the new school was nothing short of a youngster opening presents on Christmas morning.

On a personal level, Pat was just wicked fun to be around. I felt better everytime I was in his presence. I treasure those memories. One time I recall was when Joan was on a trip. Pat, Sandy and I had Chinese take-out on my deck for dinner. After dinner, Pat and I sat out there for hours talking about family, politics, life. The last time I saw Pat was in Stop and Shop earlier this year with my daughter, Jessica, who is now in college. I introduced Pat to Jessica as “the Man who made sure you had a new elementary school when you were in first grade’. In fact, Jessica attended Mayo when it opened.

As the shock and pain of the sudden loss of this thoroughly wonderful man fades, the memory of his optimism, intelligence, courage and passion will continue for those who had the privilege of knowing him. I was privileged to call him my friend.

Fred Misilo

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