Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Remembering John Musante - Amherst's Town Manager and Our Neighbor

Sometimes you feel as though it is a very bad dream and soon you will wake up and the sun will be shining again.

Two days ago, on September 20, my husband and I returned from visiting our daughter at her college for Family Weekend. The weather was simply perfect - a gorgeous late summer day in New England.

I had an uneasy feeling, for some reason, and checked masslive.com only to find headlines about our Town Manager, John Musante, who is also our neighbor in Amherst. I called out to my husband since I did not want to read the article alone. On Sunday morning, John Musante, loving husband, devoted father, and dedicated public servant of the highest integrity had passed away suddenly.

The neighborhood and the town of Amherst will never be the same.

Yesterday, we saw several of the family members and we all hugged, trying to understand from our shock this heartbreaking event. Neighbors are visiting one another, stopping to talk at length, in what was always a very caring and wonderful neighborhood.

John Musant was only 53 years of age. He left a tremendous legacy in our town and,  just last Thursday evening, after a full day of teaching and also taking part in the New England Security Day, which I bloggesd about, we headed to the Amherst block party where we saw John talking to some colleagues of ours. The downtown was closed to traffic and people of all ages were there to enjoy entertainment, food, and companionship.

I will always remember seeing John walking his dog "Griffy" past our house, seeing him mowing his lawn, and taking time to chat. We would enjoy talking about our children and the unique town of Amherst, with its type of government, beauty, history,  and many wonderful characters. John was the consummate professional, always cool, always pleasant, and extremely hard-working.

The photo below (apologies for it being  a bit grainy). I took at a big emergency sheltering exercise at UMass Amherst at the Mullins Center back in 2014 in which several of the students in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class participated. There he is with our fire chief. My students were very excited to see them. John was a UMass Amherst alum and the tributes to him continue to flow, including those from college presidents as well as from the UMass Amherst Chancellor, Dr. Subbaswamy. 

Our community lost a great person, and our hearts go out to his grieving family members.

Rest in Peace, Mr. John Musante - you will always be part of Amherst!