Three months ago, the City of Revere lost one of its own. In the Spirit of Christmas, I would like to reflect on someone who had a tremendous impact on my life and on the lives of many others.
How do you honor the legacy of someone who meant so much? During this time of year, I’m reminded of a quote from Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” No one that I ever knew un-derstood this more than Bobby Picardi.
I had the privilege to meet him 12 years ago through a mutual friend, and one of my greatest regrets was that I didn’t know him longer. He was truly one of a kind – an especially Great man. What made him so special? Bobby would say, he had a small group of friends and many acquaintances, but if you were in that group, there was no better place to be. In terms of friendship, you couldn’t have asked for anything more.
He was the type of friend who was there for you, 24/7. Always there to lend a hand, offer advice, or just listen to you, and he was an exceptionally good listener. A gift that was handed down from his father, Richie, another well-known and respected member of our community. He was just like his Dad in many ways, especially when it came to helping people.
If you had an issue or a problem, you could bounce it off Bobby, and almost instinctively, he knew what to do. He was known as Mr. Fix It. If you got in trouble with the law or needed a good lawyer, you went to Bobby. If you were out of work and needed a job, you’d ask Bobby. He was the go-to-guy. The Patriots have Tom Brady; we had Bobby Picardi.
With a degree from the school of hard knocks, Bobby had a great intellect and street smarts, and knew more than many lawyers. He was wise beyond his years, and the wisdom that flowed out of him was that of a well-seasoned and experienced 90-year-old man. If there’s any truth to an “old soul,” he was it.
He also had a phenomenal memory. If you needed to know someone’s name or you forgot a phone number, you’d ask Bobby. It was a natural reflex, call Bobby – he’ll know. He’d even remind you of someone’s birthday to make sure you didn’t forget. He was uncommonly thoughtful and considerate.
Bobby was also exceedingly generous. When times were good, and the cab business he operated on Broadway was doing well, he would help people out financially who were down on their luck and needed it.
Bobby had a great sense of humor and was not afraid to laugh at himself. He also had the ability to offer a unique and often funny perspective on life. If you were feeling depressed or negative, he could shed light on the situation, and before you knew it, you’d be laughing. What a joy to be around, because even if you disagreed, and you ended up being wrong, he’d make a good joke out of it. But he would do it in a way where you could laugh at yourself.
Loyalty and integrity were important to Bobby, and above all else, his word mattered. When he said, I’m gonna get this done, it got done. You could trust him to take care of it, and it was his reputation that drew many people his way including politicians.
Bobby had a love for politics and took a great deal of pride in consulting and managing many suc-cessful campaigns, and there were some that without his involvement would’ve easily swung the oth-er way. He was very much, in a political sense, a kingmaker.
I don’t know how he developed the organizational skills that were necessary, but it all seemed to come naturally to him. He just knew how to rally the troops. He also knew how to manage every as-pect of a campaign and could even manage multiple campaigns simultaneously. Over the years, Bobby developed so many relationships with politicians that it became his greatest asset in helping people.
Most people don’t know what I’m about to share, but it’s important to truly understand what made him such a remarkable human being. As a political consultant, Bobby could’ve made a tremendous amount of money, but he sacrificed all of it to help others.
For years, it bothered me greatly that he didn’t charge a consultant fee, because it’s a lucrative busi-ness, and he was far more deserving than the rest of them. Whenever I would ask him, he would never answer me, but another close friend did get an answer. When asked why, he said, “I do it so I can get all the favors. So when people ask me for help, I can get things done for them.”
Bobby sacrificed himself and the ability to make money by totally volunteering everything about him-self to the point where it hurt. He had no money, because he never asked for it, and he held the people that he helped to the favors that they owed him, because of everything he did for them. So that he could take those favors and help everybody else.
When he needed more help, Bobby would ask his friends. If Bobby asked you to help someone you didn’t know, you’d do it, because he asked you and you wanted to do it. He taught that important lesson. Sometimes you’d find yourself doing things for other people in your life, even to help some-one you barely knew, because of the example he set.
Unfortunately, Bobby had his detractors. In part, because he was a very good judge of character, and knew enough to walk away when a person showed their true colors. Some in the political world disliked him, because even though, he may have helped them in the past, they always expected it. Others were just ignorant and didn’t appreciate all that he did for them, because they forgot the one who brought them to the dance.
When people said something bad about him on Facebook or would call and give him a hard time, he’d laugh it off, and say, “As long as they’re yelling at me right now, that means they’re not giving some other poor soul a hard time.” He took the blows (like the verse from one of his favorite Frank Sinatra songs “My Way”) and absorbed the pain to spare someone else from being hurt.
As Bobby’s health declined, he tried to keep it to himself. Perhaps, because he didn’t want to bur-den anyone else with his problems. How I wish he sought the help he needed, but maybe Jesus thought his work was finished here, and as a faithful servant, he was ready to go home. Toward the end, he didn’t have a very good quality of life, which saddened so many of us that cared and loved him.
After he passed, there was a tremendous outpouring of love that was truly remarkable. This commu-nity came together to raise thousands of dollars to give Bobby a proper funeral. Many who donated recalled how Bobby had helped them. The experience was reminiscent of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and what a wonderful life he led in the service to others.
When describing someone he knew that passed, Bobby once said, “To know him was to love him.” The same could certainly be said about him. He might not have been wealthy, but Bobby was rich where it mattered, and a priceless gift to all of us from God.
He could be a coach. He could be a boss. He could be a judge. He could be fatherly. He was all good, all love, humor, intelligence, and loyalty rolled into one.
For those of us that were lucky enough to be close to him, we’re all on our own now. We don’t have our dear friend to help guide us through the difficulties of life, but I do believe he’s still with us in Spir-it. Perhaps, still willing to help us if we ask.
What a special human being, and a shining example of how it should be done. Bobby made every-one around him a better person for knowing him, and that’s the greatest legacy that anyone could hope to leave behind.