More than 200 folks welcomed home local solider Lt. Col. George Rollins last month at the McKeon Post in Dorchester, commemorating his return from a 10-month tour in Afghanistan. George, a Mission High man and a West Point graduate, spoke passionately about being thrilled to be home and about the death of his comrades in Afghanistan. Flanked by Capt. Luis Peral from New York City and Lt. Col. Terry Blake from Cape Cod, who served with him in the 10th Mountain Division, George said, “The darkest time was Memorial Day, when we lost nine soldiers.” The day after the deaths of the nine men, at the ramp ceremony, “Amazing Grace” was played nine times.
Lt. Col. Blake is a nurse, incidentally, and this was her fifth tour in Afghanistan. God bless these brave men and women.
Condolences to the family of Robert Abbott, who passed away last month. Bob, formerly of Mission Hill, served in the U.S. Air Force and was retired from the Army Corps of Engineers. Bob leaves his wife, Barbara (Simmons) and four sons. Barbara is a 1960 Mission High School graduate.
Bob was a beautiful guy and was a terrific athlete, having played baseball in the Cape Cod League in the ’60s. Bob loved sports so much, he made a brief comeback in the ’80s, joining his sons on the Mission Hill Liquors softball team in the local league at McLaughlin Park.
Speaking to the folks at Bob’s funeral Mass at St. Paul’s Church in Hingham, Bob’s son, Robert Abbott Jr., encapsulated his dad’s life. “Dad lived life sliding into second base with his spikes high,” said young Bob.
Condolences to the family of George Collins, a longtime Mission Hill resident who passed away last month at 84. George, who lived on Alleghany Street across from Mission High School, was typical of his era, raising a large Irish Catholic family with strong values. Among George’s children are the younger Fr. George Collins, a Jesuit priest, and Fr. John Collins, a Redemptorist priest in Philadelphia.
On a family note, I had a wonderful time traveling to St. Louis Park, Minn., to attend the wedding of my nephew, Richard Martin, and his lovely wife Kara. Richard, who was born in Mission Hill during the Blizzard of ’78, is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. Richard is the son of proud parents John Martin and Christine Martin. Locals remember John as a crafty pitcher in the Mission Hill Softball League. Christine Martin is a schoolteacher in the Boston system.
At the wedding, I particularly enjoyed conversing with the bride’s father, Dave Daniel. Dave and his family have been the proprietors of the Daniel Funeral Home in St. Cloud, Minn., for five generations.
Congrats to Nicole Burrill, a gifted writer, whose novel “Winter Born” was published last month through Amazon.com. Nicole is the daughter of Fred and Hellen Burrill. Fred is from the Mission High School class of ’57. Tom Killilea, also a Mission High graduate (1954), tells me, “‘Winter Born’ is a nice story with terrific characters.”
Happy birthday to Julia Cosby. She’ll be 11 on 11/11/11. She’s the daughter of Mike Cosby and Julia Marie (Sheehan) Cosby, born and raised in Mission Hill.
Every Sunday morning, I have a hearty breakfast at Flann O’Brien’s prepared by Mission Hill’s favorite cook, Peter Flynn. Last Sunday, Billy “The Greek” Moianou, a Mission Hill painter, joined my table to talk NFL football. Billy has an instinct for picking winners, and it was interesting to hear his opinions. I’m reminded of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, who was a television star in the ’70s and ’80s as an oddsmaker and prognosticator. Mission Hill has its own Billy the Greek, not famous like Jimmy, but more accurate.