This reflection was written by Bill Blanchard ’71 about his feelings about the Riordan community. You can read more about Bill’s incredible story here.
As I sit here in bed watching the rain I decided to forgo what I should be doing and instead take advantage of my power to “post” on the Go Fund Me page. For what it’s worth, I’m posting my belated acknowledgement and congratulations regarding recent developments at Riordan. Be forewarned, I speak of good news but for most of you – if not all – much of it’s old news.
I congratulate Archbishop Riordan High School for the progress they have been achieving these past few years. This “progress” is represented by the needed structural improvements to the gym, football field and beyond. Upgrades made possible by the committed participation and thoughtful donations from alumni and parents, the hours of work behind and beyond the doors of the Development offices, Board of Trustees, fund raising groups and, no doubt, other departments and supporters who gave of their time and resources. Then, as is often the case, green lights were given to the projects due to the rise in generous financial contributions from those who believe in Riordan’s overall mission. Or, so I surmise.
To begin with, the renovation of the basketball court/gym was long needed and naming it after Kevin Restani was an outstanding choice! Kevin was not only a force of great talent as a basketball player he was a kind, decent, fun young man and a friend of many. I know friends of his – like Bill Nasser ‘70 – worked tirelessly to raise the needed funds. What the Board of Trustees and everyone involved accomplished showed heart and purpose. I had the privilege to be on the 1970 Championship team with Kevin and if they had the new court back then (with some spring in the floor) maybe even I could have “dunked” the basketball…that is if the Coach ever let me off the bench. Riordan’s talented athletes and teams now have the court/gym they deserve and Riordan High School will forever have Kevin.
Without knowing them well, I have rarely come across a more principled and generous family than the major donors of the “Mayer Family Field.” I have found Mike ‘71 and Steve ’ 72 to be hard-working, intelligent, kind, generous men. And I’ve heard nothing but good about Tim ‘74 who was in my brother John’s class. I assume the rest of the Mayers are much the same. In Steve’s recently released book “The Toughest Guy I Ever Knew…and other short stories,” the “toughest guy” is his father. You can clearly see where the family got their values of doing the right thing, sticking to it during the rough times, thinking beyond yourself and regarding the needs of others. So, as an alum, I thank you Mayer family (and all the many contributors) for opening the gates to a new football field with your generosity. A new field on which Riordan’s former football players probably would have loved to play.
Then, last month, came the most recent bit of good news…and it was a tremendous bit to behold. An old neighborhood and grammar school friend, Carol Conroy, was kind enough to email me the story of the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation’s staggering $750,000 grant to Riordan for the building of: The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Athletic Complex. The Athletic Complex housing the Mayer Family Field, a new baseball diamond, improved track, stands, etc. will provide an environment for superior physical education and team training, better competition, increased attendance and add a well deserved luster to Riordan athletics and Riordan the high school. People will notice; student/athletes will come. I thank Carol, Chair Steven Herrera, the other Trustees, the Development office and all who contributed to this project. And may Carl and Celia Berta Gellert be blessed.
I will, also, take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate Philip Cazahous ‘70 for being awarded the 2019 Chaminade Award. He thoughtfully gave back time and financial support to his Alma Mater and his generosity contributed to the school in many ways including the new facilities at Riordan.
Once again…congratulations Archbishop Riordan High School for these fantastic new developments! Now, along with support for classes in general education, technology and the sciences; may theater, art, music and other groups and programs that help develop imagination, expression, creativity and talent be so fortunate as to receive the funding they need to grow.
Taking a turn here, I know what it means to benefit from the generosity of others in time of need. I’m speaking now of the benefit dinner Riordan High School held for me in October. For that gift, that honor, I offer my deep sense of gratitude to the following staff at Riordan: Director of Development – John Ring, Jennie Done, Anne Seppi, Karin Haskell, Paul Cronin, Victoria Terheyden and the President of Riordan – Dr. Andrew Currier. I apologize to those individuals on Riordan’s staff who contributed and I failed to mention – for my gratitude extends to you as well.
I thank Bill Nasser for generously stocking and picking up the bar tab. As well as Sarita & Bob Ahern and their handsome son, along with all who volunteered at the benefit dinner. I wish I had everyone’s name because your thoughtfulness means so much to me.
Of course the benefit dinner would not have happened were it not for the men of honor or the honorable men: Dan Hayes, Capt. Dave Mahoney, Steve Mayer. My deepest gratitude to my friends.
Lastly, thank you Martin Snapp for your meaningful article on friendship in California Magazine and how high school friends came to my aid 50 years later. Thank you, as well, to Steven Rissotto for your fine article in the Winter edition of The Crusader newspaper titled: “Crusader brothers band together to support classmate.” And, thank you to Susan Sutton, CJE, who recommended Stephen for writing the story. He was a good choice. Ms. Sutton holds positions as an English Instructor and Newspaper Adviser at Riordan. I’d appreciate advice from any or all of the folks above on improving my writing.
Now, as I’ve been sitting here thinking of Riordan, and having said what I wanted to say, I notice how looking out the window, watching the rain and daydreaming, reminds me of being back in my high school classes.
With congratulations and gratitude,