CHELMS FORD -- When the 2014 inductees to the Chelmsford High Alumni Association's Hall of Fame were announced last week, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually knew several of them.
There was Carl Rondina, one of the longest-serving and most beloved teachers ever in the Chelmsford Public Schools' music program. My first encounter with him was when I sang with the seventh-grade chorus at the old McFarlin School. He accompanied me and two other soloists on piano on our version of "Officer Krupke" from West Side Story. Many years later, I watched again and again the fruits of his labor at my own kids' school concerts.
Then there was Stephen Murray, a 1988 CHS grad who my wife and I came to know when he was assistant principal at McCarthy Middle School for a couple of my kids.
Selectman George Dixon Jr., who chaired the committee that ran the successful public fundraising effort for the new turf fields at CHS and McCarthy, is an affable guy I worked with during several years serving on the association's board of directors, of which he remains a member.
But as deserving as these and the other inductees are, the most personally gratifying selection the Hall of Fame Committee made this year was Richard Sullivan from the Class of '75, owner of the popular Sully's Ice Cream on Graniteville Road, a stone's throw from CHS. In the interest of full disclosure, my youngest daughter, Jennie, has happily scooped -- and eaten -- ice cream at Sully's part time over the past three years.
I certainly may be biased, but I think Ricky makes the best ice cream in Greater Lowell. And he has some pretty tasty competitors in Kimballs, Gary's and Sullivan Farms, the latter of which is run by his brother.
But Ricky Sullivan is being honored for a heck of a lot more than making savory and creative frosty treats.
Ricky is being inducted, I believe, because of his selfless devotion to the students and athletes of CHS. If one were to name an ice-cream flavor for him, it would be Lion's Crunch, because Ricky is always there for CHS at crunch time. Whether it's setting up tables or trucking in ice when the cross-country teams host the big Merrimack Valley Conference meet, loaning his tents so the team had additional shelter during inclement weather or donating gallons of ice cream for post-season team parties, Ricky lives and breathes CHS Lion maroon and white.
He employs scores of CHS kids from March to late December when the stand is open. And I can tell you the tips they make help soften a little of the bite of those college-tuition bills.
And when volunteers are needed, his hand is the first in the air.
Even after his son, Robbie, graduated two years ago, Ricky continued his dedication to CHS, even helping drive the team to the annual Manhattan Invitational in October.
One of the many beneficiaries of Ricky's generosity is CHS cross-country coach Brian Crane, who was one of several people along with Jennie writing testimonials on his behalf to the Hall of Fame Committee.
"I've never known Sully to pass up an opportunity to help, whether it be donating ice cream for a school event, making a monetary donation or simply by showing up to pitch in where he's needed," Crane wrote. "You can set your watch by him. I was worried that after his youngest son Robbie went off to college and would no longer be running for CHS I might see him taper off. To the contrary. I should have known he'd still show the same devotion to the team as he did when his own kids ran, because in Sully's mind, they're all his kids.
"Sully is a living example that devotion to community and loyalty to the things we hold near and dear to our hearts will never let you down," Crane wrote.
For that reason, and so many others, I am proud to call Ricky a friend.
I will be scooping up at least two tickets for Ricky's induction dinner at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua on Saturday, March 22. If you'd like to join me in cheering on him or any of the other inductees, tickets are $50 and can be obtained by calling Terry McSheehy at 978-251-3788 or George Simonian at 978-256-3100.
Kris Pisarik is The Sun's Managing Editor/Nights and a proud member of the CHS Alumni Association. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you may follow him on Twitter and Tout@kplowellsun.