I met Ted Belsky when I was a teenager and he was the neighbor of the Clancy family. Ted took a genuine interest in a few of us high school students. He would ask us about what we thought of high school, what interested us, and, of course, did I like history? To other parents, we were just noisy teenagers, but Ted really seemed to want us to know that he was interested in our education and our future.
Sometimes during college, when back in S. Hadley, I would see Ted. I remember talking to him in 1972, when I was working on the McGovern campaign while a student at UMASS, and Ted was campaigning in South Hadley for McGovern. He was interested in what I was doing at UMASS and I remember being so pleased by that and proud that Ted Belsky was still interested in me.
When I returned to South Hadley in 1993 after 20 years away, Ted was one of the first people who I sought out. There he was, with his warm smile and steady hand, as if he had just seen me the day before. He quickly became to me as good a friend as I could ever hope for, and now, our relationship could evolve to one of two adults just able to appreciate what we liked together about history, government, South Hadley, and the people we knew in common.
Last August, at my request, Ted gave my brother his first tour since childhood of the sites along the canal. I listened as Ted explained to my brother what happened there more than 200 years ago and what could be done now to make sure that history is preserved. He smiled at my brother, answered all his questions, and winked at me. It was a happy day for me just to be with Ted, and then for the three of us to have lunch, and talk, and talk some more about history, what can be now, and about life.
Ted Belsky was an inspiration to me for more than 40 years. My father died when I was young. As men grow up, I think they look for male figures as role models, however much they loved their own father. Ted has been that role model to me for most of my life. I will think of him every day now, and for the rest of my life.