Some who follow in their fathers’ footsteps

At South Shore Hospital, Fred Ayers, chief of surgery (front), with his son Michael (left), daughter Katherine, and son Timothy.
Paul E Kandarian for The Boston Globe
At South Shore Hospital, Fred Ayers, chief of surgery (front), with his son Michael (left), daughter Katherine, and son Timothy.

When it comes to family names, some are more recognizable than others.

Ernie Boch, shouting “Come on down!” to viewers in TV ads, made famous the Norwood auto dealership empire started by his father, Andrew Boch, now run by Ernie Boch Jr.

Tedeschi is the name on more than 200 food shops in New England; it’s a Rockland-based firm established in 1923 by Angelo Tedeschi, now run by grandson Peter D. Tedeschi.


But some lesser-known families in this area have also successfully continued traditions begun by their patriarchs — whether in business or as professionals in the same fields. Like father, like son, so goes the old proverb. These days, it’s just as easy to say like father, like daughter.


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The Ayers name is familiar at South Shore Hospital, where Fred Ayers, 73, is chief of surgery. Three of his children, orthopedic surgeon Michael Ayers, 47, of Scituate; anesthesiologist Timothy Ayers, 38, of Duxbury; and dermatologist Katherine Ayers, 37, of Scituate, also have practice privileges at the hospital. A fourth child, Sarah Ayers Hull, 43, of Tampa, is a full-time artist and had been a certified nurse midwife, while their mother, Elizabeth Ayers, was a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Michael Ayers said he “made a lot more money” as an investment real estate broker and probably would still be one if not for his doctor dad, who encouraged him to tackle medicine. “I was drawn to the challenge of the field,” he said.

“He never pushed us, but there was this undercurrent of working hard at something and being successful,” Timothy Ayers said. “It was never forced. Our parents enjoyed their jobs. We just grew up with that.”

“I’d go to my father’s office as a child and sit for hours,” Katherine Ayers said. “I always wanted to be like him, always wanted to go with him.”


The family knows about the sacrifice of time for medical school and internship, said Ayers, a new mom, adding, “But it’s a proud feeling. I kept my family name when I married because I’m proud of Dad and what he’s done. I’m not sure I’d want it for my daughter, but I’m proud of being in it.”

The elder Ayers will soon retire, his replacement process underway and likely to be completed by late summer. He’ll have hobbies, such as woodworking, to stay busy, and one more important task: spending time with his new grandchild.

“Kate,” he said with a laugh, “has a new boss waiting for me.”


Education and athletics are a big part of the Brogioli family.

Jim Brogioli, 82, taught English and Latin at Wareham High School for almost 30 years, where he also coached boys’ basketball. Son Kevin Brogioli, 51, is principal of Old Rochester Regional Junior High School in Mattapoisett and took over the coaching job at Wareham High from his dad. For 13 years prior, he’d been his father’s assistant coach.


“And when I went to high school here,” he said recently on the Wareham High basketball court named after his father, “I had him in classes. I couldn’t get away with too much.”

‘I always wanted to be like him, always wanted to go with him.’

There were seven Brogioli siblings, all of whom attended Wareham High, all having their dad in class, all participating in sports.

“There’s a saying,” the elder Brogioli said, “that athletics is the other half of education.”

Kevin Brogioli said his father’s influence on his career was never pushed, just evident, because “I saw him as an educator my whole life. In class and on the court, I saw the influence and passion he had for all of it.

“He warned me it would be difficult to provide for your family, constantly working odd jobs in summer,” he said. “He didn’t tell me not to go in; he just said go in with eyes wide open.”

About his son being in his old coaching spot at Wareham High, Jim Brogioli said: “He’s a very good head coach. He took the game to another level above mine.”

Kevin Brogioli said one thing he learned from his father is “there was always an ethical side to his teaching, a morality to it. I saw the relationships with his players and students. He was old school — it worked for his students and athletes, and they appreciated his concern for them.”

Asked whether he still turns to his dad for advice, he smiled and said, “I’d be foolish not to.”

Does that advice ever come unasked?

“Once or twice,” the father said.

“Once a teacher,” added the son, “always a teacher.”


Carol Conway Bulman, 50, finds inspiration in her father’s old office at the Norwell-based real estate company he founded in 1956. The office, now used for meetings, contains Jack Conway’s original desk and ancient typewriter he’d used as a young sportswriter at the former Boston Record American, underscoring her father’s old-school style. He died last year at 88.

Conway was famous for visiting his dozens of sales offices to engage in the lives of hundreds of agents. That’s something Bulman, the company’s chief executive officer and president, says she wishes she had more time for.

“He loved talking to them, finding out what was going on,” she said. “And picking up the phone was so important to him. My father was the face of old-school real estate.”

Father and daughter didn’t always see eye to eye on technology, Bulman said. Once, at a conference, “he was frustrated about my checking e-mail,” she said. “He banned e-mail for a couple of years, which surprised me because my father was so ahead of the curve. But he was a handshake guy.”

Bulman’s strength was the mortgage side of the business, her father’s the face-to-face people aspect, she said, adding, “We had that nice separation, and he liked that I was so passionate about it.”

After her father’s death, one secret of his success became clearer to Bulman.

“I reflected on what makes people committed to their jobs,” she said, of the company where many agents have worked for decades. “What I landed on was my father treated people very well. He acknowledged their accomplishments. You can’t underestimate how important that is.”


Running George Washington Toma TV and Appliance in Weymouth and Brockton is a full-time job for George A. Toma, 54. Sometimes, so is trading barbs with his father, George W. Toma, who started the business 60 years ago and still drops by.

“I got my first paycheck here in high school because I was working in a co-op program,” the younger Toma said recently. “He had to start paying me. Before, I just worked for food and shelter.”

“He was a flunky then; he is today,” his father, 84, replied with a laugh and a dismissive wave. “He took over when I retired at 62.”

“You retired?” his son shot back. “I thought I fired you.”

Beneath the banter is a deep mutual respect.

“My father instilled my work ethic,” the son said. “One thing he said was to make sure you’re willing to put your name on anything you do and be proud of it.”

“I was brought up to not tarnish the Toma name,” said the father. “He’s doing the same thing.”

In the face of stiff competition from the big-box stores, the Toma business remains strong, father and son said, owing in large part to customer service.

“If you do the right thing and take care of customers,” said the son, “they grow the business for you.”

“We’re on our third generation of customers,” the father said. “That tells you something right there.”

As does the father-and-son kibitzing.

“He puts in a lot of hours,” the father said, shrugging. “He doesn’t do much work, but puts in a lot of hours.”

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at