An Appreciation: A truly big heart has stopped, and we are the poorer for that

The word that Vince Droser of Barrington Road had died Tuesday morning was news that stunned and saddened a large swath of neighbors all across Dorchester and Mattapan. Our neighborhood has lost a wonderful friend and a great human asset.

Vince was the last person you’d expect would ever have such a fatal attack. He was that great neighbor who everyone wants: a visionary, a helper, a “doer,” always ready to pitch in and assist in any – make that every – endeavor that would make life better for his family and his community. Any thought that we would lose him was unimaginable.

At the annual neighborhood block party, it was Vince who brought the barbecue grilles, gas tanks, the hot dogs and burgers—and then remained at the grille, cooking until everyone had eaten and the food was gone. At Christmas, after the city workers had put lights on the community tree at Peabody Square, he’d show up with a stepladder, and personally add extra ornaments and decorations.

The front door to the Drosers’ Barrington Road home was always open, and for those of us lucky enough to be in the their ever-expanding circle, it’s a place filled with family, friends, and love.

In March, dozens of neighbors and friends gathered in his home as he and his wife and life-partner, Nancy Anderson, showed us how to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with food, song, liquid refreshments, and four kinds of corned beef. After Thanksgiving, they hosted a turkey fry, topped off with Vince’s famous dessert – deep fried Hostess Twinkies.

It is said that the treasures that make a great community are quality-of-life issues: good people, loving homes, friendly neighbors. Vince Droser’s life was a one-man “quality of life” blessing. He made the lives of everyone around him better – happier, more desirable, more fulfilled. He had a glowing heart of gold, large enough to help all those who knew him.

It is simply unbelievable that, as he exercised on his rowing machine on Tuesday morning, Vince Droser’s big heart would come to a stop. Abruptly. With no warning. And no time for any of us to say goodbye.

He leaves a huge hole in the fabric of our neighborhood. Hundreds will gather Saturday morning for a last, sorrowful farewell. But for the many broken hearts left behind, we are left to wonder how we can ever replace him.

Perhaps this prayer, attributed to John Henry Cardinal Newman, will provide some comfort for his wonderful family, and some solace for his friends:

May He support us all the day long
till the shades lengthen, 
and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done  

Then in His mercy, 
may He grant us a safe lodging, 
and holy rest,
and peace at last.