Athletic Hall of Fame is Katori’s Legacy  
Thursday, January 13, 2011

John N. Katori, the retired Nichols College professor whose sudden death just before Christmas brought disbelief to the college community, was a man of many talents and virtues.

He was a loving husband and father whose upfront values included friendship, scholarship, Nichols College and its athletic programs, and HIS high school, Bartlett of Webster. Encouragement and help for students were his to share. And world travel had time on his personal agenda.

John Katori was a founder of the Bartlett High School Athletics Hall of Fame. He devoted several years to the effort, finally prevailing with the help of Bartlett athletic staffers.

Mr. Katori earned sports letters through his student days at BHS, mostly because of a love of sports in general and basketball in particular. While he never saw himself as anything but a contributor, John held excellence in awe. He developed concepts for an Athletics Hall of Fame, cataloguing Green and White history, and drawing from different sources, including this corner and the Worcester State University model, brought forward by retired BHS athletics director-coach Donald F. Cushing.

His objective was simple: To recognize former BHS athletes for their contributions to sports, not for themselves but to alert their friends and progeny to excellence too often lost in time.

Success has been the keyword to Bartlett High School Athletic Hall of Fame installations, so much so that the people managing the program, including retired BHS athletic director-coach John J. Mrazik, helped install John N. Katori in 2008 as a contributor to the Hall of Fame that he championed. It was payback of the highest order, committed now in perpetuity with his memory.

There’s little likelihood that anyone connected to the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ever visited Webster or Dudley in the hours after a snowstorm.

It’s why they couldn’t realize the magnitude of the problem created by the recent ruling that property owners have to keep their sidewalks clear of ice and snow within hours of a storm.

This might be all right for the young and hardy, but there are lots of senior and disabled people in the area, nonresident property owners, snow birds and all too many scofflaws.

A state engineer once said the towns have a lot of streets that are little more than glorified driveways. This was acceptable in days of yore, before dependence on automobiles, but now, snow-clearing objectives seem car-oriented. Highway departments have heavy, powerful equipment to keep roads open, placing homeowners trying to abide by municipal bylaws, and now the appeals ruling, at peril.

A fellow with property on an East Village street corner said he cleared his sidewalk three times after the recent blizzard because plows kept moving snow against and over curbs.

Then, the state ruling is really selective. Not everyone has a sidewalk. Take Dudley’s West Main Street, for example. Across-the-street neighbors got into a snow clearing discussion a couple of years ago.

One said the other was in violation of the law because the walkway in front of his residence hadn’t been shoveled. “Look who’s talking,” said the alleged violator. “There’s no sidewalk on his side of the street.”

The state ruling gives people injured in falls on sidewalks a right to bring legal action. This appears a pressure point to police ticketing and a general increase in homeowners’ insurance costs, to mention but a couple of variables.

If our towns had an official greeter, Dudley’s Richard D. Davis would be a good choice because he’s always among the first to convey appropriate greetings.

Richard, one of the last people to work in the former Ethan Allen Co. Dudley furniture factory, packaged his “Merry Christmas” in a jolly smile on Dec. 5, and an early “Happy New Year” the morning after Christmas.

Richard’s Christmas wish wasn’t the first I heard, if you accept synthetic greetings, such as “Happy Holidays.” I acknowledge them so I won’t offend, but “Merry Christmas” is what the day is always about.

Richard Davis’ greetings have been authentic for all the decades that I’ve known him.

“I’ve got a couple of kid names, ‘Pinky’ and ‘Mickey,’ ” said the man who delivers Chinese meals about greater Webster.

He admitted to a given-names match, hedging on identity. His automobile was rear-ended recently while he made a delivery on Thompson Road. A subsequent order in the same complex raised concerns.

“I parked across the street, in some woods, and walked over with the order,” said Pinky, the identity generally attached to the man.

Incidentally, he’s always bright and proper, neatly dressed, ideal for the food delivery service.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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