Breakfast with a Champion

We all have champions.  One of mine is a former middle school teacher from Newton, Dick Yasi.  (He’s going to hate this posting and that characterization, but I’m the only editor of this blog…so too bad).  We shared a not so heart-healthy but delicious breakfast at Grumpies on the Cape this past Sunday.  Over a grilled cranberry walnut muffin, stack of blueberry pancakes, perfectly poached eggs and enough butter to repell Julia Child, we quickly got to the business of updating on the big happenings in our lives.

Dick is the real deal.  He’s literally one of the nicest guys on the planet and in only the best way possible, he’s the same guy he was 30 years ago.  Accent and all.  As I write this I realize that I am today the same age Dick was when he was my teacher.  Deep breath.  Did 30 years just fly by?

Among other things, Dick taught two classes: “American Presidency” and “Dracula”.  These took root as obsessions with TV shows like the West Wing, 24, and of course, True Blood.  I’m not 100% sure, but I think he also taught grammar and stuff like that.

But beyond the curriculum is the man himself.  He was and is, a genuine role model.  Dick never hesitated showing complete faith in me as a kid, and today as an adult.  I recall dropping into his classroom 10 years ago (coincidentally weeks before retirement) asking for a favor.  As I tried squeezing into one of those little seats with the desk attached, Dick stopped erasing the board, turned around to look me dead in the eye and said:  “There is no favor too big that I would not do for you.”  Appreciate the ‘Dick Yasi’s in your life – they’re a rare breed.

Always being the photographer, I fired off a few quick shots while seated at the table.  Lighting from the window was adequate although the background was a busy mess.  I wasn’t trying to win any awards, although I knew in the back of my mind an image might end up right here. Portrait on the fly, although he deserves better.

So in the end I was fortunate to be a kid with a few teachers who “got” me.  It’s a small club to be sure.  There are at least two more teachers from that Newton field who deserve recognition and a photo.  Time to make that happen.

Paging Mr. T, Mr. W?

  • Aaron Riseman - April 29, 2020 - 11:58 am

    Wonderful post, Rick. I remember Mr Yasi very fondly. His voice always reminded me os Adam West, and he had a great mustache and I could always smell tobacco on him as well. I took American Presidents as well as another history class with him. He was the only teacher to ever really teach me how to take real research notes for a project. And I think you and I had were in Stage Crew together.

  • Jason M Rubin - April 29, 2020 - 7:10 pm

    I loved Dick Yasi. He was such an easy guy to talk to. Any free time I had during the school day I would seek him out for a quick chat. On the last day of school before our Meadowbrook careers were over, he took me and some friends out to Cabot’s for ice cream. I wish I had kept in touch with him. An unforgettable teacher and a sweet man.

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