Tuesday, September 9, 2008

J. Roger Sisson, 87, from the EastBayRI papers

J. Roger Sisson, 87, of Tiverton, died peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008, surrounded by his children. Born in Portsmouth on August 14, 1921, he was the second of four children born to the late George L. and Mary (Corcoran) Sisson. He was the husband of 64 years to the late Jacqueline Hamel Sisson who died in May, 2008.
Mr. Sisson lived a full, storied and rich life. He attended Spencer Borden Elementary School, Morton Junior High School and BMC Durfee High School in Fall River. He enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Penn., from 1942 to 1944, completing college courses early to enlist in the armed forces.
A veteran of World War II and a true patriot, J. Roger was a member of the 106th Infantry Division, where he served as technical sergeant. In January, 1945, after having fought in the Battle of the Bulge, he was declared missing in action. He was held as a prisoner of war in Germany for nearly six months until being liberated on Good Friday, 1945, by troops commanded by General George Patton. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, three Battle Stars and numerous other citations. He attended Providence College on the GI Bill after his service.
As a civilian, Mr. Sisson continued his commitment to public service. In 1954, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served for three consecutive terms representing Ward 9 in Fall River and the Town of Somerset. During his tenure he was committed to labor, employment and land-use issues. In 1959, he led a walk from Fall River to Boston to raise awareness about transit worker rights, which paved the way for productive, strike ending negotiations.
A communications professional, much of his career was spent as part owner and operator of the Fall River radio station, WALE. His early morning radio program, “The Somerset Story,” broadcast from the kitchen of his 159 Brayton Avenue home in Somerset, made him a local celebrity. Listeners tuned in for the daily “Clothes Line Report,” and will long remember his trademark “Nice day today!” and “the panorama is simply outstanding!”
J. Roger loved animals, and in 1947, together with his wife chose to raise their family on a working horse farm in Somerset. In 1964, the family moved to Tiverton where he continued his active interest in local politics and community issues. He helped organize “Navy Band” events at the Middle Avenue Gazebo, a longtime neighborhood favorite.
Known for his strong and vocal opinions, Mr. Sisson will be remembered for his interest in history, politics and current events. He was a skilled story teller, with the capacity to capture an audience with his humor, emotion and candor.
Roger leaves his children, Jay Sisson and his wife Marisa Quinn of Jamestown, Rick and Donna Sisson of Portsmouth, Jacqueline Sisson Roppolo and husband Frank of Bridgewater, Mass., Gregory Sisson and his partner Joan Woodword of Tiverton, and Lincoln and Joanne Sisson of Warren; a brother and business partner of many years, George L. Sisson Jr., and his wife Patricia (Doyle) Sisson of Bristol; his grandchildren, Aura Sisson-Castro of Jacksonville, Fla., Sarah Sisson of New York, NY, Rachel and Julia Sisson of Portsmouth, Laura and Gregory Settino of Hingham, Mass., Christine Sisson of Nantucket, Alexia, Ryan and Mia Sisson of Warren, and Katelin and Grahm Sisson of New York, NY; a sister-in-law, Madeline Hamel of Westport; a brother-in-law, William H. McGrady of Naples, Fla., and numerous nieces and nephews. He was the father of the late Paula Sisson and Christine Sisson-Settino, and brother of the late Lawrence Sisson and Nancy Sisson McGrady.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Barnabus Church, East Main Road, Portsmouth.

(The above newspaper obituary was not written by me. Mr. Sisson was a neat old guy who lived up the street and was an inspiration to me. Back in a world that seems impossibly far away. Back when radio and politics and community service were considered noble pursuits.)


steve said...

Remembering that time can be painful. Do you remember the guides at the Newport summer mansions telling us how the wealthy in some cases had to close their houses, open to the public, or otherwise cope in egalitarian times? I remember the 1970s, the fading light of an era (1940-1980)likely gone for good.

ThirdMate said...

Yeah. That Ayn Rand crap was really getting afflictive. Glad that's over with...

Of course, the Vanderbilts and Astors just cut their losses. It wasn't as though they turned their cottages into free housing for the Fifth Ward's unmarried daughters and elderly.

I miss the local, personal radio that Sisson provided, and although I don't remember ever hearing it, my community is better for having had it. And as a leader, Mr. Sisson wasn't a cheap ill-mannered narcissistic punk living by the code: "Offering aid means only that someone owes me something back."

You do remember the Gazebo concerts?

steve said...

I remember hearing of the Gazebo concerts but do not recall attending one. Given all the time I spent at the Library, within view of the Gazebo, some notes must have floated my way at one time or another.