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Robert Whitcomb: Rebuilding & Rebuilding; Calling ERISA; Bailey’s Beach Bathos; Great Books

Monday, September 04, 2017


Robert Whitcomb

“Our boy {Donald Trump} can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this; I will manage this process.’’

-- Felix Sater,  Donald Trump associate with ties to Russia, regarding Sater’s promise in 2015 to do a Moscow real estate deal (which hasn’t happened yet)  with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“When summer opens, I see how fast it matures, and fear it will be short; but after the heats of July and August, I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing, to the cool of autumn.’’

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Thus start the nicest weeks of the year, if shadowed by the season that follows.




We in southern New England have had some famous hurricanes, although they’re usually different from those Down South. (They tend to be less intense, wider and to move forward faster.) So what are the questions/lessons from Harvey’s assault on Houston?


The most difficult lesson is that far too much building has been happening in flood zones, which includes much of Houston. And assuming that climate scientists are right, the results of overbuilding will get worse. Houston and Texas, in general, has lax (in comparison to, for example, the Northeast and California) building codes and in some places, most notably Houston, little zoning.


This has led to massive paving and building over of flood-vulnerable land, which has worsened flooding as water has poured from pavement and other hard surfaces into overburdened bayous. Marshlands, woods, and meadows absorb water and thus mitigate the effects of area flooding. In Greater Houston, much of these giant sponges have been destroyed to make way for parking lots, malls and subdivisions in the nearly uncontrolled development that Texas is famous for.


Of course, people like to live near water. Aided by the much-in-need-of reform Federal Flood Insurance Program, individuals and developers have built too close to the sea and rivers – with an irresponsibility partly subsidized by taxpayers. Seas continue to rise and rainfall events are becoming more extreme.  A lot of this indirect waterfront building subsidy turns out to be welfare for the rich, who can afford the high purchase price of waterfront property.


In some places, though, fear of flooding is leading even affluent folks to move to higher ground from homes right along the shore. This has even led to gentrification in, for example, previously unfashionable, higher parts of Miami. Let’s hope that this also happens more in inland jurisdictions open to massive freshwater flooding.


It’s unlikely that the Trump administration will take on developers (after all, Trump continues to be one, even in office) and push for gradual moves to keep new building away from flood zones. So the states will have to take the lead. Will Harvey lead even an anti-regulation paradise such as Texas to act?


Inevitably, people want to know if the Harvey flood was worsened by global warming. Well, there’s natural variability (part of “weather’’) and then there’s climate. Most very strong tropical cyclones lose some steam if they move very slowly over the sea because the turbulence brings up deeper, colder water. But the water in the Gulf over which Harvey slowly traveled has become very warm down very deep. That sounds very much like the effect of global warming. And the storm’s slow movement seems to be linked to a general slowdown in upper-level winds that’s been associated with a warming Arctic.


Finally, it should be said that Texas’s response to the Harvey disaster has been far better (orderly and calm) than Louisiana’s in Katrina. I think that’s mostly because Louisiana is such a corrupt and inefficient place. The leadership of the wheelchair-bound Lone Star State governor, Greg Abbott, has been impressive.


It will be entertaining to see and hear GOP members of Congress who opposed much of the federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery fall over themselves to get the maximum bucks from Washington to clean up after Harvey. They’ll get it, especially given the grim fact that most Houstonians don’t have flood insurance. But will they then back land-development and public-infrastructure changes to reduce damage in the next storm? Probably not because that would further enable “Big Government’’ (of which the Sunbelt gets a disproportionate share of the largesse.) Hypocrisy makes the world go round!


What won’t help is that the Trump administration has proposed cutting Federal Emergency Management Agency programs as well as funding for the National Weather Service (whose forecasts for Harvey were very accurate) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose services help coastal residents prepare for hurricane and other storm disasters.


By the way, the most prone places for hurricane-related damage in New England are Narragansett Bay and, even more, Buzzards Bay, the upper part of which is in danger of getting some of the biggest hurricane surges in the country. Watch out Onset and Wareham! Very vulnerable to fresh water flooding from these storms is the hilly terrain of inland Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.


When will there be a  national taxpayer revolt against public money being used to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild structures on the same flood-prone land?





St. Joseph Health Services

Presumably we’ll eventually find out what caused the collapse of the St. Joseph’s Health Services pension fund. I’d say at this point it was negligence. In any case, there are some unanswered questions.  Time for a forensic audit.


What does seem clear is that “church plans’’ such at the St. Joseph’s one, should be put under the protection of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which sets minimum standards for private-sector pension and health plans to provide protection for retirees. Unfortunately, neither church pension plans nor municipal ones have to abide by ERISA-style rules.


Thus, for example, the Catholic Church or a mayor can decide when and how much to fund the pension plan for their employees.  Not exactly confidence-building!


The failure to properly fund pension plans recalls the failure to properly fund public-infrastructure maintenance and repair. In both cases, negligence dramatically raises long-term costs.




Reading about the 120-year-old (!) Walk Bridge,  over the Norwalk River, in Norwalk, Conn., over which many rail commuters travel every day, reminded me of the decay of so much of our public infrastructure. The Walk Bridge swings to let big boats go up and down the river. But sometimes it gets stuck because it’s falling apart. When it does, thousands of commuters are inconvenienced.

To read more, please hit this link:




Very, very few Americans are sympathetic to the “Alt Right,’’ the KKK or neo-Nazis. Thus the huge “counter-demonstration’’ against the  Aug. 19 “Free Speech Rally’’ in Boston was ridiculously overwrought.


The “Free Speech Rally’’ was conducted, such as it was, by an outfit called the Boston Free Speech Coalition, which says it’s “a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents.”  The counter-demonstrators tried to label the coalition as a bunch of extreme right wingers and effectively quashed their freedom of speech. I have no idea what the real views of the members of the coalition might be. But I do know that their First Amendment rights were thwarted by this trendy counter-demonstration against “hate,’’ as if you could ban something that everyone feels from time to time.


The biggest problem in all this is not bigotry but massive ignorance about American constitutional rights and American civics and history in general. (Certainly, if the Alt Right or outright fascists took over they’d curb or prohibit free speech themselves and knock a lot of heads in the process.)




City of Providence

Most people seem to love to read rankings – of cities, colleges, best places to retire, etc., etc. But just about all these rankings are comparing apples and oranges. Each of these places is unique.


National city rankings, for instance, usually fail to include such qualities as convenience, as measured by compactness and proximity to nearby important cities; cultural complexity and interest, and the beauty of the built environment. Rather they emphasize such financial metrics as low taxes for retirees.  And thus boring Sun  Belt cities tend to be ranked much higher than, say, Providence, which all in all, is a much more interesting place than most Sun Belt cities. (Perhaps the most exciting Sun Belt cities are seedy, dangerous, exciting New Orleans and Miami, the sort of place that the writer Somerset Maugham called a “sunny place for shady people’’.)


I’m quite aware of Providence’s shortcomings.


And college rankings take little note of the big differences between a rural college and city university or even between a large and small institution, which can have big impact on how courses are taught and the overall college experience. The rankings industry is big, but it sells very misleading stuff.




In any event, here’s a plug for my former Providence Journal colleague David Brussat’s new book, Lost Providence (The History Press). This publisher’s blurb summarizes it well:


“Providence has one of the nation’s most intact historic downtowns and is one of America’s most beautiful cities. The history of architectural change in the city is one of lost buildings, urban renewal plans and challenges to preservation. The Narragansett Hotel, a lost city icon, hosted many famous guests and was demolished in 1960. The American classical renaissance expressed itself in the Providence National Bank, tragically demolished in 2005. Urban-renewal plans such as the Downtown Providence plan and the College Hill plan threatened the city in the mid-twentieth century. Providence eventually embraced its heritage through plans like the River Relocation Project that revitalized the city’s waterfront and the Downcity Plan that revitalized its downtown. Author David Brussat chronicles the trials and triumphs of Providence’s urban development.’’




U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is a Democrat, and Democrats pride themselves on representing a wider range of ethnic and socio-economic groups than Republicans, who, whatever their populist rhetoric, in practice display a special affection for the rich. Democrats present themselves as particularly sensitive to the needs and aspirations of low-and-middle-income people and ethnic minorities.


The senator is gearing up for his re-election campaign in 2018.


So the senator may feel himself in a quandary about the all-white, all-rich Bailey’s Beach club, in Newport. (The official name is the Spouting Rock Beach Association.)


He has a  very close association with the club as a former member and through his wife’s continuing membership.  He has many friends there. Furthermore, the club is very conveniently close to their Newport house.


Freedom of association is a wonderful thing and a cousin of the First Amendment, but for practical political reasons – i.e., “the optics’’ – Mr. Whitehouse, who is very much part of the old WASP aristocracy, will presumably face considerable political pressure to separate himself from such a symbol of exclusion as the campaign heats up. It’s his business of course. And his capacity to be a  good senator would seem little affected one way or the other. But Bailey’s will come up next year, though he’ll almost certainly be re-elected.


I have been to Bailey’s Beach and found the members I met there cool, cordial and quiet. But as a reminder of the fragility of all human institutions, an overly fragrant mass of seaweed covered much of the lower beach that day.



I go hot and cold on whether the time and expense of removing Confederate statues from certain public places is worth it. There’s a strong argument for doing it along the lines of the reasoning that has removed Nazi statuary from public places in Germany and Communist statuary from some places in central and eastern Europe. On the other hand, there’s an argument to be made that statues of defenders of slavery should be kept up as a reminder of, and points of discussion, about history.

That argument would be stronger if Americans knew more about their history. But in fact, as suggested above, history and civics knowledge has been plunging as schools cut back on teaching what should be essential subjects for citizens of this and any other republic.

I thought of that while reading a New Hampshire Public Radio piece about a controversy over a mural in a  U.S. Post Office in the college (UNH) town of Durham, N.H. The building has a long and complicated mural of images depicting the town’s development on its wall.

The images are mostly bland. But one shows a Native American ‘’crouching,’’ in NHPR’s words,  “behind a bush looking out at a colonial cabin. He’s carrying a bow and arrows, and in one hand is a flaming torch. The image is entitled ‘Cruel Adversity.’’’

“The painting is meant to represent the threat of Native American attacks on the town….,’’ NHPR reported.

Now some people want this image removed for its alleged derogatory attitude toward Native Americans; and they complain that the mural doesn’t show the savagery of European colonists. Hit this link for the full story:


Well, both sides were often savage (and Native American tribes were often very savage against each other), and students should be taught that; they should also know about past bigotry. Leaving the image up helps do that. The real problem, in this case, is the abysmal state of history teaching. If we improved that, the people looking at these murals, statues and so would have the context (including understanding the associated racism) to understand why they went up in the first place.

There may be exceptions in some places, but I’ve come around a bit to President Trump’s remark about taking down statues of Confederate luminaries: “Where does it end?’’ There are just too many of these public reminders of very bad causes, including the horrible “Lost Cause’’ of the Confederacy, which sought to maintain and even expand the horror of slavery. So, on further reflection, in most places, I’d leave up these reminders.

I’d even leave up the statue of the great mass murderer Vladimir Lenin at 178 Norfolk St., in New York City.



Meanwhile, here’s what might be the idiotic PC moment of the summer?  Yale University has changed a campus stone carving of a Puritan and a Native American by cementing over the musket that the former was carrying but keeping the Native American’s bow visible. A committee had ruled that the sculpture was bad because it depicted colonial violence against Native Americans. The sculpture, now at an entrance to the Sterling Memorial Library, will be taken away to be shown at a less conspicuous place. 


Yale was created by Puritans. This controversy reminds me of the lyrics  of the start of (Yalie) Cole Porter’s famous song “Anything Goes’’:


“Times have changed 
And we've often rewound the clock 
Since the Puritans got a shock 
When they landed on Plymouth Rock. 
If today 
Any shock they should try to stem 
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, 
Plymouth Rock would land on them.’’





A charming if a bit sad article in the Worcester Telegram the other day told the story of Peter Paradis, who is basically the only municipal employee charged with picking up the litter in downtown Worcester. He’s had this usually thankless job since 2008.


He noted how nasty the downtown would look if the plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts and so on weren’t picked up for a week (which is presumably what happens when he’s on vacation). “I think it would be quite nasty. The owners of buildings don’t clean out in front of their buildings. And people just don’t use the trash bins that much,’’ even though there are two trash barrels on most blocks.


“Some just accept that someone else is going to pick it up.’’


Poor Mr. Paradis,  diligently doing battle against America’s slob culture. Hit this link:






Poor Massachusetts Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III – the thoughtful, very well informed and disciplined young man who has put a lot behavioral space between himself and a family too many of whose members are known for out-of-control and arrogant (“Do you know who I am?!”) behavior.


He must have been very embarrassed when his Uncle Max Kennedy and his daughter Caroline, both acting deranged, were arrested on Aug. 30 in a  fancy rented house near the Kennedy compound in  Hyannisport, on  Cape Cod,  after arguing with police officers responding to neighbors’ complaints about a very loud party there.


The cops said Max Kennedy was, among things, “screaming incoherently and throwing himself at the wall’’ and smashing a cabinet filled with glass valuables.


After he was put into a police cruiser, Caroline tried to get her father out of the vehicle and was arrested herself. At the police station, the cops said, she told them proudly: “I went to Brown and I’m a teacher, sweetheart!’’


Oh, well, as my late father used to say, bitterly, “Your friends you can pick; your relatives you’re stuck with.’’





For most of us, our memories seem to be stronger about summer (and summer places) than about the other seasons. Thus was apparently the case for the great poet T.S. Eliot. Although he moved to England as a young adult and became a British subject, he was perhaps never happier than as a boy at St. Louis-based family’s summer place in Gloucester. This was a classic gray-shingled place on Eastern Point. He wrote in 1928: “{I}n Missouri I missed the fir trees, the bay and goldenrod, the song sparrows, the red granite and the blue sea of Massachusetts.’’


Now, aided by a charitable trust set up by Eliot’s second wife, Valerie, the structure (now officially “The T.S. Eliot House’’) has become a writers’ retreat, where other writers can brood on the brevity of summer and the beauty and wrath of the sea.




President Donald Trump

President Trump was quite right when he said last week that “talking is not the answer” to North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un near-constant threats. “Negotiations’’ have been delaying tactics and cover for the Kim regime’s relentless nuclear-bomb and missile program.

Trump said that “all options are on the table” to contain North Korea, and he complained that the U.S. had been paying “extortion money” in the form of occasional humanitarian aid to that tortured police state. Exactly. But what can the U.S. do to impress upon Kim that Trump is not just blustering? As I’ve written, the answer must include much tougher sanctions on Kim-enabler China and relentless cyberwar against North Korea.

The latter would have been easier if we had not let American business be so supine in accepting Chinese demands that U.S. companies share their technology with Chinese ones in return for being allowed to do business in the huge Chinese market. This has let Beijing obtain all sorts of high-tech information that they and the North Koreans can use against us; it certainly weakens the capacity of our cyber warfare arsenal to weaken Kim’s regime.

This grab of U.S. intellectual property also obviously takes huge bites out of the American companies’ competitive advantages, enabling the Chinese companies to replace U.S.  firms in the world market.



For an exciting tour of some great books in the “Western canon,’’ pick up a copy of David Denby’s Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World. The book tells of what Denby heard and learned while reading these works and auditing undergraduate classes at Columbia University taught by great scholars. Thus it’s also an immersion into the academy, whose ways are often quite different from the rest of the world.

Heart of Darkness is grim (“The horror! The horror!”).  But I was enthralled by Denby’s description of his class’s sometimes very tense takes on that Joseph Conrad novella about European colonialism in Africa, the fragility of civilization and the depths of evil to which some people can fall.  It’s also a brilliant adventure story.

And Virginia Woolf’s writing is breathtakingly beautiful. Which makes her suicide even sadder.




An advantage of old age: You no longer have to pretend that you’ll achieve some great goal.




I noticed while walking back from downtown Providence to my office near the Marriott on a nice day last week that virtually everyone I passed on the sidewalk was looking down at a smart phone, including people who were clearly in groups of friends or relatives.  Are we losing the ability to look people in the eye and directly connect – and losing the desire to look around and enjoy and learn from our surroundings? The devices are clearly having profound psychological and even neurological effects.


Related Slideshow: Worcester’s 25 Wealthiest and Most Influential

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Mel Cutler - CIO and Founder of Cutler Capital Management


Not only did Cutler found Cutler Capital Management, but he also is the founder of two banks - Flagship Bank & Trust and Madison Banc Shares.

Cutler Capital Management has $325 million in assets.The Melvin S. Cutler Charitable Foundation has more than $8 million in assets. He has been influential in business and in philanthropy for decades.

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Bernie Rotman, Rotman's Furniture


Rotman has been in the family business for 35 years - with Rotman's Furniture in College Square - a landmark next to I-290.

He and his brother Barry have been running the business taking over for their parents Murray and Ida.

In the 1990's, Rotman's Furniture seemed like it was the only furniture store. In the day they dominated advertising - their TV spots ran in Providence and Boston markets.  Today, with Bob's and Jordan's in the market it is a lot more competitive.

In the early 1990s, Rotman’s partnered with the Central Mass Housing Authority (CMHA) to work with Donations Clearinghouse to donate used furniture to families in need. The family has been a major supporter for Walk for Homeless.

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Charles and Janet Birbira - Owners of Beechwood Hotel


In 2015, the Birbiras invested in a multi-million dollar renovation of the Beechwood Hotel to make it more luxurious and upscale.

It’s already the most luxurious in Worcester - they’re aiming for the entirety of the remaining state west of Boston.

The Ceres Bistro cost was $9 million to add to the hotel back in 2010.

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J. Robert Seder - Lawyer


In 2014, Seder was named the Worcester Corporate Lawyer of the Year. He was also named in 2014 as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorginzation Law.

He owns property in Worcester totaling nearly $6 million.

A partner at Seder & Chandler Law, Seder is also the former chair of the Worcester Business Development Corporation.

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David Fields - Managing Partner, Wormtown Brewery


Former owner of Consolidated Beverages, Fields recently sold the company (which he and his father spent millions on ten years ago) to Quality Beverage.

Fields now solely focuses on Wormtown Brewery which just opened on Shrewsbury Street in March. Fields owns majority interest in the company - using the millions he made in the Consolidated Beverages sale to invest into Wormtown.

Fields is one of the youngest on the GoLocalWorcester list of the 25 Wealthiest and Most Influential.

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Sue Mailman - President and CEO of Coghlin Electric


President and Owner of Coghlin Electric, Mailman is arguably the most talented businesswoman in Central Massachusetts. Mailman serves on a range of community focused boards and is the Chair of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce Board. 

Mailman is savvy and responsible for a business that is now part of WESCO Distribution, Inc. - a $3 billion concern.

She is the 4th generation leader of a company over 130 years old.

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Tony Tilton - Director of Fletcher Tilton Law Firm


With roots in Worcester dating back 190 years, Fletcher Tilton is the 9th oldest law firm in the nation and is one of only five of the top 50 law firms in Massachusetts not located in Boston. 

The firm is responsible for multiple private trusts and foundations, and Director Tony Tilton oversees 20 private family foundations and handles nearly a half a billion dollars in assets.

In Worcester, if any charity is seeking donations - they typically have to go through Tilton. He and his partner, Warner Fletcher, decide where most of the charitable money in the city goes.

He is enormously responsible for raising the $7.5 million for the new Boys and Girls Club clubhouse nearly 10 years ago. Tilton is also Treasurer of Cape Cod Healthcare. 

He has honorary degrees from both Clark and Assumption.

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Mark Fuller - Chairman of THE GEORGE F. and SYBIL H. FULLER FOUNDATION

At the end of last year, the Fuller Foundation had assets of nearly $55 million. The foundation awarded more than $3.6 million in grants ($2.9 of which went to 69 capital grants to local colleges and organizations).

Fuller is also Vice President of Benefit Development Group in Worcester and Treasurer of the Barton Center for Diabetes Education.

Prolific in his energy and focus to serving the community.

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John Spillane - Attorney at Spillane and Spillane, LLC
Spillane’s father earned $55.6 million in payout in 2007 following the sale of Commerce Group, Inc. in 2007 to the Spanish firm Mapfre SA.

Commerce’s specialty is providing insurance through the AAA’s 100 million members.

Spillane is an attorney at Spillane and Spillane, LLC at the Worcester office. He served as co-chair of the United Way' campaign in 2013. 

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Mary DeFeudis - Philanthropist 
DeFeudis sits on the Hanover Theatre board of directors and was instrumental in raising the $31 million needed to renovate the theatre. DeFeudis also contributed $1 million to the Hanover Theatre project.

DeFeudis is the Chairwoman of Worcester Sharks Charities and a member of the UMass Medicine Development Council.

DeFeudis has provided a full scholarship annually to a student at Worcester State University.

She may be the community's most active philanthropist.

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Frank Carroll - Businessman

Frank Carroll founded the Small Business Service Bureau in the 1960s, a company designed to help and advocate for small businesses across the country. SBSB has grown into one of the largest small business groups in America.

Carrol's been helping people in Worcester ever since.

Carroll raised $1 million to build a Korean War Memorial in Worcester and was instrumental in the building of a hospital for American soldiers from Worcester County in Vietnam.

Carroll hosts a show at the Hanover Theatre to raise money for the St. John's Church Food for the Poor Program.

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David R. Grenon - E-C Realty President

Grenon scored $22.5 million in profit shares following the sale of Commerce Group, Inc. to MapFre in 2006.  Grenon serves on the Board of Trustees for Massachusetts Biomedical Initiative. He is also a Trustee of Assumption College.

Grenon is the President of E-C Realty Corporation. Previously, he was the founder, President and CEO of Protector Group Insurance Agency - which was sold three years ago with annual revenues of $13.6 million.

Grenon runs a charitable trust in his name that holds $312,864 in assets.

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Neil McDonough - President and CEO of FLEXcon

McDonough and his family have run FLEXcon for 60 years and the manufacturer of pressure-sensitive films and adhesives has grown to be a mega company. 

The global firm employs a reported 1,300 employees around the world. The private company has gotten more active in Worcester - with community sponsorships and earlier this summer, McDonough spoke at the DCU Center as part of the Worcester Research Bureau’s Acting Locally Panel. 

in 2009, McDonough was named the Worcester Business Journal's Big Business Leader of the Year.

However, the company’s reach is global with manufacturing and sales offices on nearly every continent on the globe.

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Joe Salois - CEO, Atlas Distributing

Salois is President and CEO of Atlas Distributing in Auburn. He serves as the Director of Fidelity Bank and is a Trustee of Saint Vincent’s Hospital.

Speaking of influential, Salois was named to Governor Charlie Baker’s Economic Transition Team last December and Atlas played host to a Central Mass Delegation of Senators and State Reps in March.

He has a big impact on business, government and the community.

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Mike Angelini - Chairman of Bowditch & Dewey

Angelini is known to be a lawyer's lawyer.  He was named one of the 2015 Best Lawyers in America by Best Lawyers, Angelini is known as one the nicest and down-to-earth guys in Worcester.

Angelini serves on the board at MassPort and is chairman of the board of Hanover Insurance. He, along with Sue Mailman of Coghlin Electric and Becker College President Robert Johnson, were instrumental in re-recruiting Ed Augustus to be City Manager in Worcester.

With Angelini at the helm of the firm, Bowditch & Dewey has been able to both expand the firm’s Boston presence and continue to prosper in Worcester.

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Regan Remillard - Haven Country Club

Another big winner in the sale of Commerce lands on GoLocalWorcester's Wealthiest and Most Influential - the son of a prominent business owner who achieved success in his own right.
As the Boston Globe reported at the time of the Commerce sale, “Arthur J. Remillard Jr., who ran the company until his retirement in July 2006, will be paid $26 million for his 710,000 shares, while his children, Arthur III and Regan, will receive $43.6 million and $15.9 million, respectively. Arthur III and Regan are both members of the Commerce board.”

In 2012, the younger Remillard purchased the Haven Country Club in Boylston (formerly Mount Pleasant Country Club).  At the time of the rebranding of the golf course, Regan issued a forward-looking statement, “I see this as a club whose star is rising.  We’ve taken the traditional country club model and updated it a bit, to better fit the way people live today … A club should be someplace where you can have fun and feel at home. That’s the vision here.”

The Regan Remillard foundation has more than $500K in assets - while the Remillard Family Foundation has nearly $2 million.

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M. Howard Jacobson - Vice Chairman of WGBH Educational Foundation Inc

Jacobson serves as the Chair of the Board for the Boston Market Corporation and the Wyman-Gordon Company. He is the Vice Chairman of WGBH Educational Foundation Inc. and a Trustee of WPI.

Jacobson served as Senior Advisor and Consultant at Private Advisory Services of Bankers Trust Private Bank from 1991 to 2001. 

Prior, he served as the President and Treasurer of Idle Wild Foods, Inc. until 1986.

Like many on this list, he is also on the UMass Medicine Development Council.

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Valentin Gapontsev - Fiber Optics

There are people who are wealthy on this list and then there is Gapontsev.

Gapontsev, the father of the fiber-optic laser industry, is the only billionaire on this list because he's the only billionaire in Central Massachusetts. Thanks to lasers, his net worth is $1.24 billion.

This genius Russian and Worcester resident is the founder of IPG Photonics - located in the town of Oxford.

According to Forbes Magazine, he is #1533 on the Forbes Billionaire list globally.

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Ralph Crowley Jr - CEO of Polar Beverages
Crowley runs Polar Beverages - a foundation in Worcester and a company the city is proud to hang its hat on. Polar Beverages is valued at nearly $500 million and Crowley is largely responsible for it. He's modernized the Seltzer water industry with numerous flavors and engages his customers to perfection.

Crowley made an attempt to purchase the T&G in 2009, but was snubbed by New York Times - who sold it  to John Henry (who sold it again within months). The Crowley family also owns Wachusett Mountain and the nearby Wachusett Village Inn.

EDITOR'S NOTE - We previously published a photo of Chris Rowley rather than Ralph. This has been corrected and we apologize for the error.
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Robert Branca - Developer and Food Services 


Branca is a philanthropist, developer and Dunkin’ Donuts mogul.

He is a national leader in the Dunkin’ franchise structure

In Branca's family, nearly 700 Dunkin Donuts are owned - with him owning 60 DD franchises. 

Branca is the Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Franchise Owners Political Action Committee and Chairman of the Dunkin' Donuts Regional Advisory Council of all Dunkin' Donuts franchisees in the Northeastern U.S., and is the Vice Chairman of the Washington-DC based Coalition of Franchisee Associations.

Branca's company owns 72 and 60 Shrewsbury Street - the home of Volturno, Sweet and Wormtown Brewery.
Together, both buildings are valued at more than $3 million. 

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Barry Krock - Real Estate
The DCU Center (former Worcester Centrum) was nearly named the Krock Arena. The Krocks have been a power in banking and real estate in the city for decades.

The Krock family owns 11 pieces of property in Worcester (worth multiple millions) including three parking lots across from the Worcester Courthouse and the building that formerly housed the Irish Times (worth $1.5 million total between the three lots and building).

Krock used to own the Commerce Bank Building before he sold the building for $4.5 million to David “Duddie” Massad in 2010  - for $400,000 less than its estimated value - after turning down offers of $21 million, $11 million, and $10 million.

For one perspective on the Krock family, check out Unlocking the Krocks.

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Allen Fletcher - President of the Greater Worcester Land Trust

Up until 2008, Fletcher owned Worcester Magazine — once a top level alternative weekly newspaper. He, along with his brother Warner, inherited a tremendous wealth and he's utilized that money to make his own impression on Worcester.

Fletcher's money is part of what's behind the Canal District revitalization and he serves as the President of the Greater Worcester Land Trust - a non-profit organization that serves to protect the land of Worcester.

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Warner Fletcher - Director of Fletcher Tilton

Fletcher maybe the most influential person in philanthropy in Central Mass.

Fletcher is the chairman of three charitable trusts in Worcester - including the two largest - George I Alden Trust, Stoddard Charitable Trust and Fletcher Foundation.

Last year alone, the Alden Trust gave $9.5 million in charitable donations - including a $3 million future payable donation to WPI. The Stoddard Trust has more than $70 million in assets and gave more than $3.5 million last year in charitable donations.

Fletcher, along with #6 on this list, Tony Tilton, run Fletcher Tilton Law Firm - which oversees 20 private family foundations and handles nearly a half a billion dollars in assets.

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David "Duddie" Massad - Chairman of Commerce Bank

A Grafton Hill product, Massad owned several car dealerships including Diamond Auto Group, Emerald Chevrolet Oldsmobile, Duddie Motors and the largest Hertz franchise in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Massad serves as the Chairman of Commerce Bank in Worcester - a company he purchased from the Krock family - that has over $1.7 billion in assets and 250 employees according to the bank. 

In 2005, he donated $12.5 million for a new medical facility at UMass Memorial Medical Center's Lake Avenue campus.

He was indicted for fraud in 2008 - but was ultimately proven innocent.

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Fred Eppinger - CEO and President of Hanover Insurance

Eppinger may be the most able chief executive in central Massachusetts. His leadership in growing Hanover Insurance and his activism in the community is unmatched.

The company is trading 33% higher in the past year.

Eppinger, a Holy Cross graduate, made more than $5 million in compensation in 2014 as CEO and President of Hanover Insurance. 

Eppinger also has $28 million in options through Hanover. Eppinger has been with Hanover since 2003 - when it was called Allmerica and had lost $306 million. Since then, Eppinger has turned Hanover around as a business and the company has donated millions towards the Hanover Theatre, Hanover Field, and UMass Memorial.

He oversees more than 5,000 employees.


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