Fundraising tribute to Marlborough man

David Gadbois
David Gadbois

MAKING EVERY DAY COUNT: David Gadbois speaks matter-of-factly about his diagnosis of terminal liver cancer on Oct. 15, 2013.

“I said, ‘Doc, it’s not over,’ ” recalled the 73-year-old lifelong Marlborough resident. “I’m going to live every day, not die every day.”

Although Gadbois doesn’t waste time thinking about dying, he is grateful that he can prepare his loved ones — particularly his wife of 46 years, Virginia, and their two children and six grandchildren — for the difficult days ahead. Gadbois also continues to focus on his volunteer work and philanthropy, turning a public tribute for his longtime community service into a benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest.


The David Gadbois Testimonial and Fund-raiser will take place on March 6 at 6 p.m. at the Hudson Portuguese Club, 13 Port St. The proceeds will benefit the capital campaign to renovate the youth organization’s Marlborough Clubhouse, a 90-year-old former school at 169 Pleasant St.

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Gadbois was 12 when he joined what was then known as the Marlborough Boys Club, and he fondly remembers playing basketball, boxing, and shooting pool with his friends in the early 1950s. He joined its board of directors in 1974, ultimately becoming president during his 16-year tenure, and cofounded the community basketball program with the late Ralph Grasso.

A semiretired lawyer, Gadbois was also a member of the Marlborough Rotary Club, Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, the city’s License Commission, and the board of directors at St. Mary’s Credit Union. In addition, he served as the Marlborough city solicitor and industrial agent, chairman of the city’s Recreation Commission, and as a Little League coach.

Gadbois said he hopes the event generates significant funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest, while inspiring participants to raise money for their own favorite charity.

“I want to be as useful as possible and do something worthwhile with the time I have left,” said Gadbois, who is related to two former Marlborough mayors.


His father, Romeo Gadbois, served three terms, from 1952 through 1957, while brother Edgar served two terms, from 1972 through 1975.

“To do anything else would just be a waste of that time,” he added, “and that’s not me.”

For ticket information, visit www.bgcmetrowest.org.

HONORING BLACK HISTORY: William “Smitty” Smith will kick off the Local Luminaries series at the Goodnow Library in his hometown of Sudbury on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Smith, the founding executive director of the National Center for Race Amity at Wheelock College in Boston, will share behind-the-scenes information and excerpts from his 57-minute documentary, “The Invisible Soldiers: Unheard Voices,” in honor of Black History Month.


Broadcast nationally on PBS in 2000, the film describes the contributions and sacrifices of servicemen and women of African-American, Asian-American, and Native American descent during World War II. It was named Best Documentary Film by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame that year.

‘I said, “Doc, it’s not over. I’m going to live every day, not die every day.” ’

DAVID GADBOIS, 73, of Marlborough, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer 

Smith, the film’s producer and director, said the documentary continues to be shown because little else has been done on the subject. Interview subjects include two former US senators, Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke and Daniel Inouye, a Democrat from Hawaii, who were combat veterans, and D-Day hero Sergeant Waverly Woodson Jr., a young medic who pulled drowning soldiers to safety on Normandy Beach.

Smith said the documentary was inspired by the absence of “black or brown faces” in the 1998 epic war film “Saving Private Ryan,” directed by Steven Spielberg, “which perpetuates the misconception that minority groups weren’t there.

“My hope is always that people will gain a new respect and understanding that America has been built by the contributions of everyone, not just the predominant groups the media has presented to us heretofore,” he added. “Minority men and women served under extraordinarily complex and oppressive conditions, but still with valor.”

The Local Luminaries series, part of the ongoing celebrations marking Sudbury’s 375th birthday, spotlights 17 local residents discussing a wide variety of topics through May 3. For the complete list of the free presentations, call 978-443-1035 or visit www.goodnowlibrary.org.

SHE DID IT: Three years ago, Ronna Benjamin (inset) of Newton was in her 28th year practicing real estate law and looking for a new challenge in her next stage of life.

“I never had any great burning desire to be a lawyer. It was something I fell into,” she recalled. “It was a nice profession, but I wanted to find a passion.”

Benjamin, who was married with three children, experimented with new hobbies and business ideas. Then, as a way to battle sleeplessness, she wrote a humorous story about her son’s experiences at college to share with friends. The encouraging feedback she received kept her writing, and she came on board as managing editor of Better After 50 shortly after publisher Felice Shapiro of Watertown launched the online magazine (www.betterafter50.com) in November 2011.

At 55 years old, Benjamin said she is an example of the women the site attracts, with evolving personal and professional goals. The webzine also hosts “She Did It” events nationwide, offering hands-on workshops in technology, health and wellness, business, beauty, and finance.

Benjamin hopes women will be inspired to invigorate their careers, or generate new ones, while achieving greater fulfillment in their relationships and lives as a whole.

“I spent a good 10 years thinking I’ve got to find something else, and now I’ve never been happier or busier,” she said. “Nobody is talking retirement anymore at 50. They talk about reinvention. Our goal is to give women real tools to figure out what’s next and how to get there.”

The next She Did It event will take place on March 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Babson College in Wellesley. For more information, visit www.shedidit.com.

IN TRANSITION: Brookline resident Margot Stern Strom (inset), founding executive director of Facing History and Ourselves, is transitioning to the role of president emerita and senior scholar as part of a longstanding succession plan.

The board of directors for the Brookline-based organization has established a search committee to recruit the next executive director. Strom will move to her new capacity once the position has been filled, expected to be later this year.

In her new role, Strom will focus on research, writing, and special projects, in particular the revision of “Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.”

Founded in 1976, Facing History and Ourselves is an international education organization with 10 offices worldwide.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell by e-mail at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.