Theft of Ashmont memorial disappoints friends, family

By 
Rachel Zarrell, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 20, 2011

The Droser family paid tribute to their late father Vince with this chef’s hat on the day of his funeral, Jan. 8. Someone stole the hat in the hours after this photo was taken.	Photo by Ed ForryThe Droser family paid tribute to their late father Vince with this chef’s hat on the day of his funeral, Jan. 8. Someone stole the hat in the hours after this photo was taken. Photo by Ed Forry

Vince Droser had an idea. Every month the Ashmont neighborhood would adorn the large, Sleeping Moon statue outside of Ashmont station with a new hat for each month. After 12 months, a calendar would be made with pictures of each of the months, and sold to raise money to maintain the upkeep of the area. He was a neighborhood man and a civic visionary, the Vice President for Development at Trinity Financial, the development company that created the Carruth building overlooking Ashmont station.

But the only cap to make it onto the statue was a Santa hat that was stolen, before Droser died suddenly in his home early this month. In an effort to commemorate him, his four children stayed up the night before his funeral at All Saints Church, fashioning a huge white chef’s hat with the words “Real Men Fry Turkeys” and his initials, VAD III – a memorial to Droser’s popular post-Thanksgiving annual turkey fry.

They put it on the statue so that people would see the hat on their way from the memorial service at All Saint’s Church to the reception at the nearby restaurant, Tavolo.

But sometime during the reception on Jan. 8, the hat was stolen.

“It was just seemingly removed in broad daylight with what I would imagine lots of people around,” said Joyce Linehan, a friend of the family who has taken on the effort of trying to recover the hat, “because it happened sometime during the day and that’s a pretty busy intersection.”

Linehan has yet to receive any tips in response to her blog posts at ashmont.posterous.com.

Jim Keefe, president of Trinity Financial, said Droser’s sons were “very disappointed” when they realized the hat had gone missing.

“The construction of this thing was quite an involved process, taking them many hours, which was a good thing in the sense that it was a way for his children to deal with their profound grief,” he said. “The actual construction itself was quite clever, quite creative, as usual, as you would expect. It would’ve taken some effort to take the chef’s hat off the moon. But somebody did.”

Droser was known around the city for revitalizing the Ashmont neighborhood, working on building projects such as Mattapan Heights and Davenport Commons, a combination of dorms and affordable housing around Northeastern University. Keefe said he couldn’t imagine what someone’s motivation would be to steal the hat if they knew the reason for it being there.

“Vince didn’t have any enemies in this neighborhood that I know of,” he said. “There were 450 people in the church at his memorial service. So it’s not like there was this insurgency against the work that Vince did, and adorning the moon in particular.”

Keefe said a small group of people is gathering to discuss new efforts to honor Droser’s life. Despite the thefts, they’re considering continuing the hat project in Peabody Square.

“This was one of many expressions of remembering who Vince was,” he said.

An anonymous donor is offering $250 for the return of the hat. Tips can be sent to joyce@ashmontmedia.com or 617-265-8444.

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