Faulted for age hurts


To the Editor:

Thankfully, I have the strength to respond to Zach Lafontaine’s letter to the editor (11/27/18) entitled “Trending toward younger elected officials.” Zach is a Pilgrim High School senior and I hope that the word “senior” doesn’t adversely affect his bright future. His two “key facts” were that the average age for the Warwick School Committee in 2017 was 61 and that of the City Council was 55 in 2016.

This hurt, as my being the oldest elected official in Rhode Island certainly was a factor affecting the School Committee. If the average didn’t include me, it would have been an unbelievable 22, the youngest in the U.S.A.!

Fact: During my eight years on the Warwick School Committee, I have never missed a meeting or any of the countless special ones. I take pride in this and, especially, the work done trying to improve the education of our beautiful students, including Zach. This, along and together, with the other committee members and administrators. It hasn’t been the easiest of times for all concerned. However, to somehow fault us because we are aging is a tough pill to swallow, especially from young Zach, whom I have admired and is destined to future success.

Fortnuately, those of us who are growing older still have years to celebrate birthdays. The only problem we will be facing is trying to blow out all the candles with one breath.

Eugene A. Nadeau

Warwick School Committee Vice Chairman


2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
richard corrente

Dear Gene Nadeau,

You and I have locked horns on priorities many times. Your beliefs and mine are oftentimes at total opposite ends. However, you are right about your record. For the money paid to a School Committee member you made about 80 cents an hour, and that takes an enormous level of dedication that needs to be respected, and I do respect you. You and I have had a few heart-to-heart talks agreeing to disagree more often than not but Gene, NO ONE can ever say you didn't care. If you ever need help blowing out candles, or shoveling snow, or anything else, please feel free to assign a task to me. The fact is that we (yeah, that includes 67 year old me) don't have the youth and energy of someone like Zach. But we have 3 things he doesn't! Wisdom, Medicare, and Social Security checks!

Merry Christmas respected adversary/friend Gene. Take good care.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, December 7, 2018

Something I wrote 8 years ago that I believe tells of Gene's service.

The Taxpayers' Spin: Sacrificing for the next generation - Eugene Nadeau

Posted Thursday, March 17, 2011 1:36 pm

In excerpts from his book The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw spoke of a generation of men and women in America who “by and large, made no demands of homage from those who followed and prospered economically, politically, and culturally” because of their sacrifice.

At an age when most people have been long since retired, enjoying the fruits of their labor with their children and grandchildren, 79 year old Eugene Nadeau decided he wanted to do even more by representing the next generation, our children in Warwick.

On January 4, 2011 Gene took the oath of office as the district one school committee representative for the next four years.

I’m not sure if anyone keeps this statistic, but I wouldn’t bet against Gene being the oldest elected politician in Rhode Island’s illustrious history.

While Gene soon will be celebrating his 80th birthday, make no mistake about it, age has never been a deterrent for him. He hardly sleeps and readily admits to working up to five in the morning most weekdays.

Last summer he spent hours pounding the pavement with temperatures hovering in the nineties campaigning for votes. This past winter he was up on his roof shoveling off the heavy snow.

Gene grew up in the poor section of South Elmwood, graduating from Cranston High School in 1948. He is a decorated veteran of the Korean War, spending 17 long months on the front lines.

God only knows what he experienced and the crack in his voice when he recalls those moments lends one to pause and contemplate the self-sacrifice he made and those made by the men and women in our military.

He came home to a 47 year career with Fleet Bank (formerly Industrial National Bank) and was instrumental in organizing many programs for children during that time.

Many consider him a voice of reason and admire the fact that he is not afraid to voice a divergent opinion. Just this week he was featured in the Providence Journal and on the WPRO Morning News discussing the state funding formula and its negative effect on Warwick schools.

We can no longer afford to do things the same old inefficient way and at times Gene appears to be frustrated at the unwillingness of others to advocate for common sense changes in school governance.

Brokaw writes, “It is a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor, a legacy of their formative years when they were participants in and witness to sacrifices of the highest order”. This sentiment is what drives Gene Nadeau to succeed in office.

If you never have had an opportunity to listen to his booming speeches, discussing the future of our children, you are truly missing something special. Many have witnessed a room go silent and seen all eyes moisten as he describes the legacy of debt and what it means for the next generation, our children.

The shame, unlike World War II or other great natural calamities, it is not out of necessity but rather from the extremes of greed that has fostered itself upon American society according to Gene.

Brokaw’s greatest generation would have been appalled. Gene labels it “fiscal insanity”, fearing that the future may very well be far worse for our children then it was better for us.

Having been retired for 16 years and as a senior citizen Gene understands the plight of the elderly. His disposable income has diminished each year through constant property tax hikes, increases in water fees, new sewer fees, and the possibility of a new car tax proposed by the mayor last year, but defeated, that may be resurrected this year.

His pension is frozen. Gene receives the same amount in his check each week since he retired. He has not received a cost-of-living-adjustment from social security for the past three years and the cost of healthcare already in the thousands of dollars, keeps rising.

However Gene will continue to sacrifice and will not complain out of pity for him but rather to represent those who simply cannot speak for themselves.

“The Greatest Generation wasn’t the greatest despite the challenges they faced, but because of them. Today many men shirk challenge and difficult pursuits, believing that the easier life is, the happier they’ll be. But our grandfathers knew better”, writes Brokaw and so does Gene Nadeau.

Saturday, December 8, 2018