Category Archives: Foxboro

A final toast to Foxboro’s grand dame Betty Friedman

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 11/2001

Betty Friedman first contacted me about three years ago. Betty, a senior resident of the Doolittle Home, wrote saying that she had enjoyed one of my columns. I welcomed Betty’s letter; at that time I hadn’t received much written feedback about my work.

Since then, I’d received more than a few letters from her, and the last one, in June, requested that we meet. The request came at an unusually busy time for me, so I planned to meet with her in a few weeks.

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A loss too deep for words: Remembering Lorraine and Stanley Garland


by Robert Gillis
Originally published in The Foxboro Reporter December 2000

One week and a day after Lorraine and Stanley Garland died, Foxboro and the surrounding area got hit with a violent Nor’Easter, and most of the town lost electric power for a few hours.

Driving through the dark streets that Sunday night, the hurricane-force wind and rain blasting my car, I thought about what a metaphor it was for what has happened to us — the light was gone.

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Foxboro Senior Center Christmas fair

Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter November 2000

Every year, it seems like the Christmas sales start earlier, and the decorations are in the stores sooner. The corporations begin their annual holiday blitzkrieg, inundating us with sale after sale.

It’s easy to become jaded as Christmas becomes more and more commercialized and arrives sooner every year. Many people choose to ignore the pre-Christmas hype.

However, there is a special Christmas event that takes place quite early (yet for a very good reason) and one that is well worth a visit.

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Jaycees and Other Volunteers in Foxboro

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter July 2000

Recently, the Foxboro Human Services organization was merged with the Council on Aging (COA). The move so angered Human Services that five members resigned. From published reports it at least appears that the Human Services volunteers themselves had little to say about the merger, and the decision (or vote) was taken out of their hands. It would seem that many people affected by this merger were the last to know it was happening.

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Foxboro Founders Day 2000

Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter June 2000

Well, let’s start this Founders Day column with two shocking confessions: First, I did something stupid Founders Day morning, and second, this is the first time I’ve actually watched a Founders Day parade in its entirety.

First, the stupid thing. I arrived early for the parade and parked off the railroad tracks, walked about 10 feet from my car and realized that not only had I locked the keys in the thing, but it was still running.

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April, 2000: Saying Bon Voyage to Father Steve Madden

NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN IN 2000; IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE 2015 STORY CLICK HERE


By Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter April 2000

True story: Many years ago my mother went to confession to a priest I’ll call Father Brimstone. It had been a particularly stressful week, and Mom confessed that she’d yelled at my sister and me.

Father Brimstone let out a loud gasp and asked, “Would the Blessed Mother do that?”

Mom has no response for that, was a little hurt, and went to other priests for confession after Incident.

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Thanking our heroes during the cold winter

Foxboro - Foxboro Public Safety BuildingBy Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter February 2000

With a day off, I finally managed to liberate our Christmas tree from the backyard and get it down to the compost heap this morning. There weren’t many signs of life in town except for passing cars. Elm Street looked like an arctic wasteland. The sun was there, but providing no heat or warmth. Just a dull 40 watt bulb in the sky. I pulled my hat over my ears as they started to burn from the chill.

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Weaving a web for Foxboro

IMG_9568-300x169by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter May 1999
[Note: This column was written before the town launched its own official web site so some outdated information has been removed. The site itself was superseded by the town web site and is no longer available, but was a really big event when first launched!]

Fire up those web browsers because Foxboro’s on the web!

Yes, the unofficial Foxboro web site is up and running and very impressive, and all due to the generosity of Pattiann Malynn.

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Standing room only in church

 Saint Marys Church - Foxboro - Holy Family - Peace Gardenby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter April 1999

Palm Sunday mass, and Saint Mary’s is filled beyond capacity this afternoon. There is literally a standing room only crowd. I’m late again, so I’m also standing.

This particular mass features the longest gospel of the year — the Passion of Jesus Christ, which tells the story from the Last Supper to the day after the crucifixion.

My mind wanders back to many years ago at Saint Kevin’s in Dorchester, when we’d all stand for the long gospel, and then afterward Father Kierce would say a seemingly longer sermon and then read the announcements from the church bulletin.

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Foxboro First Night says farewell

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 11/1998

It began in the summer of 1993. Oh, others had talked about it and kicked around the idea for a while, but the real beginnings were during that summer. Bob and Jane Webster — both veteran Jaycees and already active in the community — wanted Foxboro to have its very own First Night New Year’s event. No need to drive to Boston or Providence — right here in town there would be a non-alcoholic New Year’s celebration for the entire family.

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Celebrating Boyden Library Foxboro

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1998

So, read any good books lately? Have you been to the library lately?

I read a lot these days, but it wasn’t always so. Nope, if you go back to the summer I was 12, it was very much the opposite. I remember that hot summer day, and a friend of mine had his nose in a huge library book. I’d asked him if it was a school book, and he said he was reading just for fun.

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Support the new Foxboro Senior Center

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1997

Pay attention, folks; this one’s important. You might see the “Seniors” page in this paper each week and think, “I’m not a senior” or you might say, “Oh, another column about the seniors,” and turn the page.

Stop. Read this. It’s important.

If you’ve lived in this town for more than a day you know all about the Foxboro seniors’ search for a new home. You know about the impressive Council on Aging (COA) providing dozens of services, as well as the enthusiasm and determination of its director, Lorraine Garland.

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My first Foxboro town meeting – and the senior center vote

by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 5/1997

In the six years I’ve lived in Foxboro, last week was the first time I’ve attended a town meeting. My main reason for attending was my great interest in seeing question six, the senior center funding issue, approved. But as I sat and watched people debate various topics and budget issues, I kept looking around the crowded auditorium and saw the same things on everyone’s faces: Pride.

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Celebrating vocations


by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 4/1997 and the Boston City Paper, 2006

We are now nearly through the Catholic season of Lent, a time of fasting, prayer and preparation for Easter Sunday, and that got me thinking about those in religious service. We live, unfortunately, in an age where priests and nuns don’t command the respect they once did (say, in my father’s generation) and the entire concept of religious vocation seems suspect to some people.

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Reflections on the April Fool’s Blizzard of 1997

April Fools 1997 Blizzardby Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 4/97

Some random thoughts and observations on the Great Blizzard of 1997:

Any snowstorm with even mild accumulation brings the inevitable comparison to the Great Blizzard of 1978, but this was one of the rare instances where the comparison was warranted. The April 1 blizzard was the third largest snowstorm in Boston history, and certainly had many of the same elements as the unforgettable ‘78 storm: Newscasters describing roads as “treacherous” and “impassable.” The National Guard called in.

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