BY: Frederick J. Balboni, Jr.
In the morning hours of July 2, as our Nation prepared to celebrate its 241st birthday, the clock marking the time that Robert J. (Bob) Hass, Jr., had to spend in the land of the living made its last stroke, enabling a complex, yet unpretentious man, to cross over the threshold of this world into what his faith promises to be a new, harmonious, uplifting and everlasting life.
Bob had an enduring and compelling unconditional love worthy of emulation for his loyal, life-partner Juanita, along with his daughters Jennifer, Rachel, son Robert, his grandchildren and for the community of Revere that he so loved.
I had the honor of meeting a local printer named Bob Haas while a student at Revere High School at the dawn of my communications career a little more than 40 years ago. At that time, Bob was the President of the Revere Chamber of Commerce and I was a sophomore and “newscaster” on Revere High’s WRHS-TV. I will always remember the interminable enthusiasm and prolific community spirit that Bob embodied for the people of Revere and the place he helped teach me to call home. I couldn’t help but marvel at the genuine care and concern he expressed for the community every time we would meet during my formative journey. Bob became one of my most influential life coaches. He taught me through example that the impossible was truly the art of the possible.
Bob would eventually leave the presidency of the Revere Chamber to become a city councilor and later a four-term mayor. I would go on to develop a diverse career in communication and education.
In 1998, I had the honor and privilege of being asked by Bob to join his administration as Director of Communication and Government Access Television. I accepted and had the honor and privilege to join his executive team comprised of Andy DiPietro and Francis Hyland both amazing, brilliant individuals, with whom he is now reunited, along with Fred Alexander and current Ward 5 Councilor John E. Powers.
Bob so loved the natural beauty of Revere and he wanted to share it with the world. In fact, he had Juanita create and oversee the Revere Beatification Committee a civic organization committed to highlighting the beauty of the city that continues to this day.
Bob’s main goal in adding me to his team was to utilize my skills to showcase Revere’s storied public image and to renew a spirit in the residents to be proud of their community.
Under the leadersip of Bob, Revere was named a White House “Millennium Community” by former President Bill Clinton, an honor bestowed upon a very few select up and coming communities across the United States that embodied its slogan “Honor the Past – Imagine the Future”. Some of the positive community events earning us that honor included, the historical re-creation of the dedication of Revere City Hall honoring its 100th anniversary. A “Night of a Thousand Ghouls” that brought businesses owners and families together to celebrate Halloween in a safe, controlled environment. We decked the halls of city hall making Santa available to all Revere children enabling them to be touched by the holiday spirit in a non-commercial environment. We produced the world-premiere of the critically-acclaimed Miramax Film, “Next Stop Wonderland”, and brought national attention onto the nation’s oldest public beach having it featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today Show. We also celebrated a milestone anniversary of the beach with a free public concert featuring major recording artists and a fireworks display attended by hundreds of thousands. A tradition that continues today.
These and the other community proceedings brought the local and national news media into Revere permitting residents to bask in the light of empowering and positive headlines. This was very important to Bob as it enabled citizens of the community to feel pride and show the rest of the state, indeed the entire country, that the nefarious headlines that plagued Revere were an exception and not the rule.
One of Revere’s greatest champions, a true American hero by virtue of his service as former member of the United States Navy and Reserve, a community leader, husband, father, grandfather and friend to all the people of Revere has now moved on but I think (as Bob would say) “without question” that his legacy will be kept alive in the hearts and minds of those that truly knew him and his spirit will remain forever in the place he called home – Revere.
Frederick J. Balboni, Jr. is Chairman and CEO of the Balboni Communications Group, LLC of Boston, and New York, is a freelance producer for CBS News in New York, is the manager and trademark holder of Rock & Roll, Vocal Group, and Grammy Halls of Fame® International Recording Artist, The Platters® and is an Education Advocate.