Betting and Breaking Even
Nick Massa had clearly defined interests. They were golf, the racetrack and cards, not necessarily in that order.
He was on the golf course every chance he got. Each year, he and his golf buddies would go on a couple of four-day outings, often to Florida. They would play golf in the morning and often follow up with tennis in the afternoon.
Then he had a card group that would assemble every couple of months and play poker.
The horses were a longtime fixation. He kept a box at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, and attended once a week during the season. You could also find him at Belmont and Aqueduct, if not elsewhere, though he wouldn't bother with the trotters.
His dream had been to own racehorses, and some years ago he managed to buy several, and he did get into the winner's circle a few times.
Mr. Massa, 65, lived in Manhattan and was a senior vice president at Aon. There were times he spoke of retiring next year, and there were times he would say, "I'll never retire."
"He was a friend to all," said his daughter Donna Mercurio. "Anyone who became his friend, he took a big piece of your heart."
Between golf, the horses and poker, there was a lot of betting going on in his life. So how did he do on those golf trips?
"He said he broke even," his daughter said.
What about at the racetrack?
"Broke even," she said.
"Another break-even," she said, "According to him."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 21, 2001.