Latest Reviews of My Guest-Speaking

Dear Colleen,st-lukes

“What a wonderful day we had at Leisure Learning. Everyone was so impressed with your presentation! You have inspired many from the youngest to the oldest.  You know from the audience’s response you held their attention to the very end. I am so proud that I was able to introduce you….” (photo is of St. Luke’s Peirce St., East Greenwich, where I spoke.)

From Eleanor Keating (the woman who booked me), Leisure Learning, East Greenwich, RI

Dede McMahon of Leisure Learning said: “I found (Colleen) to be refreshingly candid and open, exceptionally humorous, and very entertaining….”

____________________________________________

The following is from Director of two elder-living sites in West Warwick where Colleen spoke this fall. Colleen’s now invited to the third site this director oversees in Johnston for a presentation in 2017:

Colleen Mellor and her husband were guest speakers at two of our elder living sites this fall… Plaza Esperanza in West Warwick and another visit to Wildberry Apartments.

“Our experience with Colleen Mellor was extraordinary!

“Colleen was funny and very entertaining. She was a burst of energy for our elder residents.  She inspired them to consider the history of their lives and to be their own memory keepers. Colleen engaged the residents to reminisce…

“I look forward to hosting Colleen and her husband again at our other senior housing sites. Not only is she a wonderful guest speaker, but she is also a genuinely kind person.”

Lucy Goulet, CRSC

Housing Opportunities Corporation

My Grandpa and the Truck books are available at my presentations, and they’re available on our website, too, until Dec. 18 (we can’t guarantee shipment in time for Christmas or other holiday after that date.) I personalize by child’s name if you add in Paypal instructions and I sign as author (how cool is that?) Your intended child gets actual author-signed book, one backed for authenticity by biggest trucking group, OOIDA, and Women in Trucking (WIT) and recommended by teachers, parents, and kids!books-for-yard-sale And contact me if you wish guest-speaker. I’m loving my new role…and apparently audiences do, too.

For children’s books, go to http://www.grandpaandthetruck.com

 

 

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Never Be Fooled by the Outer Package

pool party john cropped
27 years ago….

The scene is a party I hosted for my brother who’d accepted a physician position at George Washington University Hospital. He and his family would be leaving Sudbury, Massachusetts.

We in the family all chipped in to give him this party. Only problem? My fiancée (with whom I’d bought this house seen in background) had just died. Boxes of packed items sat all about, in the home. We hadn’t even unpacked everything yet, when he’d suffered a heart attack. He lived only two days.

The irony was:  The first party in this new home was supposed to be our wedding reception.

Now, I had to pick up the considerable pieces of my shattered life….

I didn’t feel I could cancel my brother’s party. People were coming from out of town and there’d be no time for our family to get another venue.

Instead, I threw myself into getting the yard and the house ready and baking 5 calzones (they ALL went, even before the caterer’s offerings, a caterer my older brother, sister, mother and I hired.)

That’s me in the swimming pool, wearing a turquoise bathing suit and a smile (contrasting with my true state.) This picture—and what it portrays–is testament to the reality that one can’t know what’s going on, in another, by outer appearance, for this was the year that almost broke me.

I’d already gone through terrible crises—a divorce from first husband, raising my first child alone, a second difficult marriage, culminating in a two-year terminal illness with that husband.

The death of my fiancee became my 3rd. crisis.

My world (and that of my children) reverberated with terrible challenges.

But if you see this “happy pic” you’d never know it…….And I say: A snapshot of any one of us at a certain time will never tell the true nature of our well-being, for I hung onto sanity in the months ahead, by my fingernails.

From my future book, “In the Shadow of Princes.”

***And if you want to be alerted to new postings or future books (first one to come out this year will be “The Asheville Experiment,” in 2017, about Paul’s and my many year search for the perfect retirement town.) We found it but we left it, too, after 9 years. My book is a cautionary tale (with a lot of really good realtor tips, since I did that career, too) for all who consider buying and/or selling a home anywhere (yep–not just out of state.) And it’ll contain my trademark humor. If interested, pls. sign up, at top right hand corner. Your email will go nowhere else–promise.

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Guest Speaker: Colleen Kelly Mellor

 

leisure-learning-guest-speakingKathleen Monahan of Leisure Learning, St. Luke’s, East Greenwich, says:  “Thank you for the outstanding talk.You positively affect the lives of your audience (that was the talk from the group at lunch.) You gave us energy and courage. We laughed out loud. No one fell asleep. You connected! A good quality, very hard to achieve.You are the best. I am so grateful that our paths have crossed.”

Janet Noke at Leisure Learning, says: Speaker Colleen Kelly Mellor demonstrates ‘professionalism, quality, timeliness.’  She’s ‘very entertaining and enlightening.’ “

“I knew who you were (from my columns in the Journal) but I never realized how funny you are, in person. I loved your talk!” another said.

‘Inspiring’….’Moving”.were other observations.

As a freelance journalist, I write Op-Ed articles (mostly on educational issues) that appear regularly in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Providence Journal. But my work’s also appeared in Wall St. Journal, Asheville, North Carolina’s  Mountain Xpress, Scripps-Howard, World News, etc.

Now I guest-speak before audiences, encouraging them to take their life experiences and ‘go higher’ on a plane of self-discovery. My talks are spirited, humor-laced, and by all accounts, ‘rollicking good fun.’

My Grandpa and the Truck children’s books have been heralded by the top international truckers’ association (OOIDA) and Women in Trucking WIT). Teachers, librarians, parents and children love them, too. The trucker/hero and I have gone before audiences of 200 children to present our lively show. My childrens’ book website is www.grandpaandthetruck.com.

Along with guest-speaking and freelance writing, I complete “The Asheville Experiment,” about my husband’s and my move to Asheville, NC , an artist enclave in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a town consistently on lists of “Most Popular Retirement Towns in America.”

Our story will be a cautionary tale for all those considering leaving their native state and a “must-get” for any who consider purchase/sale of a home—anywhere.

Prior to being a freelance writer, I was a 30-year secondary teacher of English and Journalism and a highly successful realtor. I’m a 15-year breast cancer survivor whose experience with that dread disease became the Cover Story in Providence Journal “Lifestyles” Sunday magazine in 2002. Widowed twice by the time I was 45, I raised two daughters as single parent.

All this makes me the perfect vehicle for engendering hope in audiences to meet and harness the crises of their lives, as growth opportunities.

Now, in workshops and guest-talks, I address how to make the senior years the most productive of one’s life, for I am true embodiment of my beliefs.

I welcome your contact, regarding how I might give my hopeful message to your group.

Colleen Kelly Mellor

My other website where I offer my children’s books: www.grandpaandthetruck.com

ckmellor@cox.net

***Please subscribe in top right hand of this site, to get future posts and alerts as to when “The Asheville Experiment” is ready (a humor-laced book for home purchase/sale anywhere, and especially for those going out-of-state.)  Children’s books are ready now. Guest-speaking dates open. Let’s have fun!

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The ‘Real Fabric’ of Kent County: Its People: The DeSilva Men—

desilva-boys-we-served-best-and-brightest(Picture above shows, from left to right: Albert, Richard, Manny, Arthur, and Eddie in succession.)

The following story of mine appeared in the Kent County Daily Times. But to tell you the truth, in interviewing them,  I thought we might be kicked out of the Cozy Grille, on Tiogue Ave., in Coventry. Why?  Our laughter got so raucous, for the simple reason:  The De Silva “boys” are a hoot.

I can only imagine what life must have been like for their parents who raised 4 sons, longing finally, for a daughter. Alas, it wasn’t to be. That’s when the youngest—Eddie came into the world–fifth and last of the DeSilva boys.

He’s the one who contacted me, asking if I’d like to do a story on the 5 DeSilva “boys” from West Warwick who all served in the military (that’s their picture in uniform, 1 Army and 4 Navy).

They were all raised in West Warwick, across the street from Mac’s Bowl—A-Way, in the Lippitt section of West Warwick.

Their Mom was Brazilian-born Mary Branco, a Portuguese woman who emigrated to America. In Lowell, Massachusetts, she met and married Richard, Sr., a British subject from British Guiana, South America.  He, too, was of Portuguese descent.

Then, they came to West Warwick, in the wave of various ethnic groups who arrived to fill factory jobs.

Apparently, the DeSilva boys were paperboys for the Providence Journal.  As such, they turned in their weekly customer collection money to none other than my grandmother (Kelly) who acted as neighborhood bookkeeper for the newspaper (something I never knew.)

‘Stern and unforgiving’ were terms they used for her, when their amount conflicted with what her books said they owed.

Two of these “boys” had my father, John J. Kelly, as teacher and coach, and I begin to realize that in doing this series, I am learning about my own family in ways I never knew.

They’re now “up there” in age. The youngest, Eddie, 83, a retired teacher and former administrator at West Warwick Jr.High, now lives in Massachusetts. Coventry resident, Richard, 94, was a meat-cutter, by profession; and general handyman, Albert, oldest at 97 lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. The brothers visit him in winter.

The two oldest DeSilva brothers are fresh off the laying of the wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier, at Arlington Cemetery, on Oct. 1st. They were selected for the honor, since they’re now ‘the oldest men in New England who served in WWII. ‘

An organization flew them and bused them to the ceremony.

I asked why the younger boys switched military service affiliation, from Army to Navy.  Eddie said oldest brother, Albert, warned them “Not to be a ‘dogface’ because Army soldiers ‘dig foxholes and get into them.’ Then, ‘the rains come and they get soaked.” The brothers listened:  the next four went into the Navy.

Two middle brothers, Manny and Arthur, have since passed on.

The fact that all 5 served in the military initially intrigued me, but in interviewing them, another story emerged.

They all considered their growing up years in West Warwick, a positive experience, where they got the chance to mix with different nationalities (the ‘melting pot’ who had come to work in the mills). They feel fortunate for the opportunity to learn others’ customs, food, and traditions.

Because their parents suffered the Depression, there were few luxuries. But they all praise their parents as hard-working, with good senses of humor. The DeSilva’s were a close-knit family who enjoyed their time together.

Their Mom worked as lace spinner in Royal Mills, for years, and Dad worked at textile print works in Clyde. In 1935, after years of hard work and saving, the parents opened their own small grocery store in Lippitt, DeSilva’s Market, near the bowling alley. There, they all worked.

As such, the DeSilva’s are the true embodiment of the American Dream.

The picture below is of the 4 boys, before youngest, Eddie, came into the world, thus dashing hopes for the long-awaited girl. desilva-little-kids

The good news for the family? Four of the “boys” married Portuguese girls, so this Portuguese family got their girls, after all.

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There I Was—Back at My Father’s Childhood Church

I’m pretty amazed at my life.  I never know where the next door leads. I just keep going through doors that present, trusting…even if, at times, I hesitate. sspeterandpaul

A perfect example is what I’m embarked upon now—guest-speaking.

You see, I’d never have believed guest-speaking would become something I love. I just had too great a mountain of panic to overcome. It all started when I was a junior in high school, in Mr. Al D’Andrea’s class:

To this day, I can conjure up the fear…the anxiety.

Our eleventh grade “Problems in American Democracy” class held 30 seats and mine was the back seat in the second row, in from the door. Near the big plate glass windows. Where a cold draft blew in, in winter.

I often sat back there, quaking nervously.

I feared Mr. D’Andrea’s walking about the room, gradebook in hand, containing the roster of students in our class. On this day, his eyes swept along the column and then he called out: “Miss Kelly.”

I froze in my seat.

Slowly, I got up and walked to the front of the class, to stand at the podium,  awaiting questions which would come, rat-a-tat-tat-style,  of a rifle.

I felt the class’s eyes on me, examining my every fault and imperfection.

He asked:  “Miss Kelly, tell me what you know of the Dred Scott case.”

I said nothing.

Now, it’s important to note that at times such as this, all moisture disappeared in my Sahara Desert of a mouth. My tongue became cemented to the roof of my mouth.

He asked again.

Again, I said nothing.

After 5 punishingly-long minutes, he dismissed me.

I wanted to scream out:  “Yes, I know the Dred Scott case, and frankly, there’s nothing I dread more than being exposed before my class and you, my adored teacher….due to my fear of public-speaking.”

Instead, I slunk back to my seat.

_______________________________

Where am I today in all this? As a 71-year-old guest-speaker,   I love my audiences and have great fun with the people.  But I share my original fear of public-speaking as a hurdle I needed to overcome in my journey to become the person I am today. I encourage others to go forth–to conquer their own fears.

This past week, I enjoyed a wonderful night, speaking before 25 ladies (and one priest) of SS. Peter & Paul church on Highland Street, in Phenix (West Warwick, RI).

Soon, I will go before 150 women in East Greenwich, a Leisure Living group who, I’m told, will have ‘lots of questions.’

Baby steps….baby steps….

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Guest-speaking: A Hoot!

colleen kelly mellor--guest speaking poster with 5 locationsI’ve spoken at Plaza Esperanza and Wildberry Apartments in West Warwick, in past two weeks, and now will go before an audience at SS. Peter and Paul church, Highland Street, in Phenix, West Warwick, RI. on Wed. night, Oct. 19th. 7:30 PM (I’m gonna try to have them out in time for debate.) What’s so unique about this opportunity? This is my Kelly ancestors’ church where my Grandmother Kelly went (and probably my father.) I can’t wait–It’s gonna be exciting!

P.S. To book me for your event, contact me at ckmellor@cox.net or call 401-884-1969.

sspeterandpaul

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Native Daughter Colleen Kelly Mellor Speaks to Kent County Audiences

Many of the folks in my audiences remember my father, John J. Kelly. They paul-in-trucker-gearjust don’t remember him as I do, for they only had him as high school principal.  

I tell them I had no dates in high school, since no young man wanted to come to my home. None was that brave. I hoped the reason didn’t signal some serious defect in myself.

I tell them I stood at the podium at my 50th Class Reunion some years back  and asked:  “All right, men….I always wanted to know:  How many of you actually did want to take me out on a date, but never dared, when we were in high school?”

Hands shot up and we all laughed.

I was happy…. even if they were just being kind.

I now write about youthful memories and focus, too, on other West Warwick folks in articles that appear in the Kent County Daily Times’s Weekend edition. I’m also a regular commentator in the Providence Journal Op-Ed section.

But I’m a late bloomer as writer, for my writing career follows my 30 years as teacher and another 8 years as realtor.

I now add guest-speaker to my resume, and I have to say:  I’m loving it.

Husband Paul Wesley Gates and I went before two West Warwick audiences at Wildberry Apartments and Plaza Esperanza last week where we had a ball. While at one, a woman came up , tapped my husband on his arm, and said: “You look just like Roy Rogers.”

I laughed, inwardly, as I thought:  “That must make me Dale Evans.”

I get why she said it. He’s tall, lanky, with a Southern drawl (he’s a long-ago transplant from Arkansas who got here as a Navy Seabee.) As such, he’s a great favorite of the ladies. It helps that he wears a western hat, cowboy boots, and a leather vest with insignia sewn on.

I freely admit:  I use him for my presentations.

You see, I write about his adventures in our children’s books, Grandpa and the Truck (Books 1 and 2), for he was a long-haul, big rig driver who went all over the United States, moving households. Our books are the perfect vehicle (pun intended) to teach geography, regional differences, dialect, trucker lingo (the words we can safely use). Each story comes with guide questions, maps showing where the truck is, a moral (remember—I’m a teacher) and table of contents.

To date, we’ve published two colorfully-illustrated books, and we give lively presentations on those, too.  Our biggest audience was a 200-child school gathering in Tiverton.

Since writing/guest-speaking is my third career, it proves:  Age is no stumbling block to new experiences.

I get that message across to my audience.

My mission is to give the over-55 crowd encouragement to try their own hand at writing, for it’s my belief we all have an arsenal of stories inside, narratives that are rich in detail, almost screaming to be told.

I tell my senior students to get a writing journal and “start small,” considering “Who are the 5 people who had the most impact on you?” I then suggest they describe those five, with 2-3 phrases each.   Then, choose one person of the 5 to develop more fully.

For example, my own mother, Doris Barlow Kelly (I bring a picture of her to my presentations), would be “energetic”…”a little spitfire”….”oldest daughter of a large mill-working family” (she had 16 siblings.)

I then proceed to flesh her out and let her come alive, mentioning perhaps one funny incident of many.  I’ll share an example in future.

I like to think of writing as “painting with words.”

How’d we start off in our new guest-speaking venture? Lucy Goulet, Resident Services Co-Ordinator for Housing Opportunities Corp., looking to inject spirit into her residents at Plaza Esperanza and Wildberry Apartments invited me to speak to residents in both apartment buildings, after seeing my website (www.colleenkellymellor.com).

She’s to be commended for working to enrich the lives of her residents.

As for us, we will continue “on the road” in future, guest-speaking, encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone, for we’re living embodiment of what happens when one keeps going through doors in life.

(Pic below, my Mom, Doris Barlow Kelly, appears on the left,  alongside the book jacket for Book 1 of Grandpa and the Truck.

Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net) will guest speak at 3 more locations in weeks ahead. If you order her children’s books through www.grandpaandthetruck.com, she can  personalize-to-child and autograph them.   Contact her at email address for guest-speaking.

Picture below is of my Mom, Doris Kelly (she accompanies me ‘in spirit’ to each of my presentations) and one to right is of the lean, handsome cowboy image, Paul Wesley Gates on cover of our Grandpa and the Truck book 1. He’s the real draw at our talks–especially to the ladies.mom-paul-on-easel

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A West Warwick Athlete Finds Himself in the Jungles of Viet Nam

mike-montigny-ring“Welcome to Hell” was the sign he saw prominently posted at the gate at Parris Island, North Carolina.

Its message wasn’t over-the-top bluster.

Instead, it was the not-so-nice entry point telling Michael A. Montigny his life was about to seriously change. He was at this camp to learn skills that would enable him to survive deployment to Viet Nam.

The former West Warwick athlete had no serious intention of going to war but he was one of the unfortunates who weren’t already signed on to a college or university. He didn’t have powerful “others” of wealth and influence who could get him out of the precarious position.

No, instead, he was the son of a hard-working, West Warwick family.

That meant, at 18, he was available for the draft. Recognizing that, he felt it was better to die a Marine than aligned with another branch of the service. And so, he signed on and entered  the toughest arena of his young life.

Now, in 144 pages of his new book, “A Few Good Angels,” Michael A. Montigny tells how angels stepped in, at critical junctures, changing the trajectory of his life.

He’d discover:  he wasn’t to be a casualty after all.

In fact, he was to tell his story to countless others, giving hope that there just may be a higher purpose in life, after all.

What struck me so, as I interviewed Mike? That I may have figured in his story, too, for as a young college girl, home on Christmas break, I pigeon-holed the envelopes that went out to thousands of the young men in my town. I recall asking a co-worker, in my naivete: “Why’s the US government sending all these Christmas cards to the young men in our town?” Her answer? “They’re not cards—they’re draft notices. These guys are going to Viet Nam.”

I thought it especially cruel they got them during the holiday season.

I wondered if I put Mike’s letter in his family’s postal slot. I could have. I was employed when he got the notice.

What happened as I read his book? I was there with Mike as he endured tough training….I landed with him in Viet Nam where a batch of glazy-eyed Marines were leaving, only to have one of them thread through the ranks and pick out Mike to give him a ring—a ring that the Marine said saved his life, a ring Mike still wears.

I noted the foxhole that blew up and killed a fellow soldier shortly after Mike left it; I saw the killer cobra stare fixedly at Mike, in the cave, until a mouse distracted it; I knew the power of the prayer beads.

The stunner for me? It could have been me going through all this.  If not for my gender (women didn’t fight in combat during this period) and the fact I was a college student, I could have been in those jungles, suffering those hardships—the  terrible psychological and physical trauma from which many never recovered.

If they did come home, many were mortally wounded in other ways, never fully recovering.

I could have been West Warwick’s Mike Montigny.

Just another foot soldier in a very foreign land.

If not for fate.

Mike speaks of the time that he, as uniformed soldier, came home aboard a commercial airliner and the captain invited him to sit in 1st class, as means of thanking him for his service. When other passengers balked  (Viet Nam was in disfavor,) he moved to the back of the plane. Today, he notes the far different tenor of the country that sees young people at the beach who see his Marines tattoo on his arm honor him for his service of many years ago.

Today, this former Vice President of Human Resources, Amtrol has a message he delivers. It’s important. Instead of focusing on the terrible things he had to overcome, he notes the positives…the wonders…the forces…the ‘angels’ that led him out and protected him. One he highlights as most instrumental? His wife of many years—Sandra (Boutello) Montigny who saw him through many dark times following Viet Nam, times that precipitated his giving up both drinking and smoking.

Is his message finding fertile soil?

Well, if audience size determines likelihood of success, Mike is already a best-selling author. At Valley Country Club, where Mike had a recent book signing, his crowd swelled to 150. Why was he at this particular venue? He is a a member there and current vice-president. In September, this new author became president of Rhode Island Golf Association. That sizeable group, coupled with his many friends from his former employment at Amtrol, and countless others he’s helped through his life, insure he has a loyal fan base.

I know—I’m one of his admiring fans.marine_mike mike-montigny-with-rifle

 

***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current resident..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Scripps-Howard, and many regional newspapers. She is author to the children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com) and is regular commentator in the Providence Journal. She currently completes “The Asheville Experiment,” the story of her and her husband’s nine year life in one of America’s trendiest little retirement towns—a cautionary tale for all those who consider a move.  In this book, she tells what went wrong and why they returned to live, full time in Rhode Island.

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Jack W. Clark: Perseverance Got Him Where He Is

 jack-clark-in-front-of-his-classic-carJack W. Clark: When Luck Presented, He Ran With It…

 He looks every bit like his alter-ego—that charming, perennially-young  “American Bandstand” icon, Dick Clark.  In reality, Jack Wade Clark is a case study for why folks should never make assumptions about others.

 In his youth, he was seen, by other classmates, as privileged. After all, he was tall, good-looking, the son of a successful builder. But life dealt him blows in his later teen years, when his father’s business went bust; his parents divorced; and his mother suffered a debilitating disease.

That’s when Jack mustered what’s his probably greatest asset—perseverance in the face of adversity.

Today, he’s seen as the epitome of good taste, in summer “dress casual” of polo shirt, Bermuda shorts and boat shoes. And these days (at least for most of the year), he runs his real estate business out of his office at 6300 Post Road, North Kingstown.

But his life’s taken a circuitous route.

Jack was the older child and son of Jack W. Clark, a Pennsylvania native who came to Rhode Island as a Navy Seabee, and Pulaski St. resident, Genevieve (Andruchow) Clark. Following marriage, the couple lived on Manchester St. in Crompton and father Jack parlayed his construction talent into a successful career as builder.

As a member of the John F. Deering (now West Warwick High School) class of 1963, Jack wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life, but he’d acquired skills, working alongside his father in the building trade.

The road ahead was bumpy. His parents’ divorce saw him living with each parent, separately, in West Warwick and East Greenwich, while money was so tight Jack had to scrape financing together for his college education.

That meant he worked any odd jobs he could get.

In his first year as commuter to the University of Rhode Island (in ’64) ,he hitched rides along route 2. He mentally thanks the many West Warwick-ites who picked him up, as they went to their jobs in the Kenyon Textile Mill.

He laughs, too, about the oil delivery person, covered in grease, who stopped for him, no doubt sympathetic to a young man’s standing in the cold, balancing books, his ROTC uniform, and his lunch.

Even hitchhiking proved a boon, for one driver was a supervisor at that same Kenyon Mills Textile Factory, a man so impressed by Clark’s perseverance that he offered him a job, second shift, in his factory. Jack took that job.

With money earned, Jack finally bought his first car (for $75.00,) signaling the end of his hitchhiking.

He graduated from URI in 1968, with a Business Administration degree.

Following graduation, he entered the military, but lucked out, there, too, for he was assigned duty in Korea (rather than Viet Nam,) missing the combat so many of his peers endured.

In that job, he got to handle the books and accounting for a private club called the “Generals’ Mess,’ a posh socializing venue restricted to top brass and their staff.

When he came home from the service, he drove by the real estate office on Post Rd. that was “For Sale,” a business owned by his father’s former realtor—Lee Littlefield.

Jack bought it.

That, too, seemed kismet, for Littlefield encouraged Jack to get his realtor’s license. It made sense:  Jack had a head for business and finance, and he was good with people.

All his many jobs had given him gifts.

The beginning years were tough with the market, at points hitting 21% interest rates. Hardly anyone was buying which meant people weren’t selling, either. That’s when Jack dug quahogs and sold them from a panel truck with a brother-in-law in Connecticut.

In other words, he persevered…Just as he had…always, and weathered the market, becoming a successful realtor.

It’s safe to say: When others made lemonade out of lemons, Jack made chowder out of quahogs.

His wife and partner in his many ventures? Childhood sweetheart Carolyn (Kulas) Clark who similarly grew up in Crompton.  They’d go on to have two children, and Carolyn ran her own successful business as hair-stylist.  Recently, the couple celebrated a milestone–their 50th wedding anniversary.

In the past year, Jack and Carolyn bought a second home in Englewood, Florida, on the west coast, where they go to escape the winter blasts, but they do not call Florida home state.

‘Why Englewood?’

‘Not as busy as many parts of Florida,’ he says.

But they return each spring to Rhode Island to their permanent home, a modern structure designed by a RISD grad that sits near the ocean, in North Kingstown. Proximity to the sea allows Jack his seasonal hobby, harvesting quahogs, clams, and mussels.

He says he could never leave Rhode Island and rattles off his reasons:  ‘The Bay…the hills…the mixture of people of different ages….Fall….the trees.’

This West Warwick native enjoys the real and significant fruits of his labor…

And he recognizes, too, just how fortunate he is…..

clark-jack-in-office

***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current resident..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

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The Real Fabric of West Warwick: Its People: Gary Gallucci

 

This West Warwick native, son of William and Jeannine (Cayouette) Gallucci, gary-gallucci-and-carol-romano-croppedcontemplates where he and his wife, Carol, might live in the future, when they retire. Like many others, they consider southern realms (Florida), possibly renting for a while, before buying.

If anything, Gary carefully studies situations, before he acts.

After all, he didn’t marry until the ripe old age of 32, for that’s when he met Carol (formerly Romano), the woman with whom he has three children.

I met him on Facebook (seriously). And I was intrigued with Gary Gallucci’s committed following, all due to his Facebook posts.

I call him a “Provocateur” in that he writes about a situation and asks readers how they’d respond. In other words, he provokes thoughts and reactions.

Here’s a paraphrased version of his last week’s post: “Your neighborhood’s been hit with a rash of robberies and the last victim was your neighbor who was robbed of a genuine, $40,000 gem-studded necklace that’s been in the family for generations. The neighbor is understandably upset. While cleaning out a closet of your home, in the far reaches, you find a box filled with coins and valuables that you don’t recognize. On the very top layer is the afore-mentioned glittering necklace. What do you do?”

The comments come in and reflect the attitude of each player, from “serious” (“Report your wife to the cops,”) to “sublime:”  (“Pack for Venezuela.”)

Gary’s regulars all weigh in, and the conversation gets lively.

What questions get the most mileage? ‘Politics and guns,’ he says ‘always.’

But while these topics generate intense debate, neither side convinces the other, just like our nation’s electoral debate going on, right now.

In this, Gary’s merely preparing for his next act in life, as fiction writer, one who makes up possible scenarios and characters. He’s flexing his creative muscles, in advance, tapping into what his readers like and playing off their responses.

Once a short term writer for Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times (he wanted the sports column but another reporter already had it), he worked for GTECH for 17.5 years, from 1983 to early 2001 and then  APC/Schneider Electric in West Kingston, for another fifteen years  to present.

That thiry-year combination makes him ‘the only person who has worked that long for both powerhouse companies in Rhode Island.’

His particular job description? Tech writer who creates specific language to go along with the products his company sells. He also facilitates the sales force in their marketing and training.

He says a ‘creative writer can become a technical writer, but a tech writer can’t necessarily be a creative writer.’ He thinks of himself as ‘creative.’

Like his Facebook posts, Gary enjoys conundrums.

But he adds, with impish good humor that ‘perseverance, loyalty, and general lack of interest in finding another job’ contributed to his longevity in his job.

Gary Gallucci grew up on Providence Street, in the Natick section of West Warwick, the son of the West Warwick police chief, in an Italian/French family whose many relatives lived nearby. Family togetherness is what he values most from his West Warwick upbringing.

Now, this West Warwick native lives in Johnston, for that’s where wife Carol lived, when he met her.

But it’s where his life brings him next that most intrigues, for I believe Gary will write his novel and maybe even a series of novels…

He’s merely testing the waters and building audience on Facebook.

He’s taking risks and stepping out, inviting a community to respond.

And his Facebook prompts get a lot of attention.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s Gary Gallucci’s Facebook address, so you, too, can partake in the spirited “conversations”… https://www.facebook.com/gary.gallucci?fref=ts

While we all await his novels.

.  ***Got someone you’d like to see up in lights? Send their name, contact info, and why you think they’d be good candidate to ckmellor@cox.net with “Kent County People” in subject line. Your nominee doesn’t need to be current residents..he/she should exhibit a strong connection to West Warwick/Coventry.

West Warwick native, Colleen Kelly Mellor (ckmellor@cox.net), is a motivational speaker and freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Wall St. Journal, Scripps-Howard, and many regional newspapers. She is author to the children’s books Grandpa and the Truck (grandpaandthetruck.com) and is regular commentator in the Providence Journal. She currently completes “The Asheville Experiment,” the story of her and her husband’s nine year life in one of America’s trendiest little retirement towns—a cautionary tale for all those who consider a move.  In this book, she tells what went wrong and why they returned to live, full time in Rhode Island. Her website is colleenkellymellor.com

 

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