A final salute to a friend, who had been a Marine | Opinion

The death of Ed Mazzei, a retired US Marine captain, left “a great big void in the heart of his family, and in my heart also.”

The death of Ed Mazzei, a retired US Marine captain, left “a great big void in the heart of his family, and in my heart also.”

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It’s funny how you can meet someone, become friends with them briefly and it seems that you have known them all your life. That’s the way it was with me and Edmund J. “Ed” Mazzei and his wife Jeaneth.

I met Ed, a retired US Marine Corps captain, through this column, when he would write to me each week sharing his thoughts about what I’d written. We became friendly pen pals and eventually the three of us — Ed, Jeaneth and I — met over lunch. it was almost as though we’d known each other forever. We learned that we were born the same year, exactly two months apart (I’m the older). I am a rural Floridian and Ed was a Northeasterner, born in Boston. Still, our friendship blossomed.

Our friendship was a testimony to the fact that people can be friends even when they don’t share the same political or religious views. We were friends because we looked beyond the things that were different about us and saw each other’s heart.

The late Ed Mazzei.

Even so, we had so much in common. We both loved the Lord and prayed for each other all the time. He called me his “sister in the Lord,” and he was my “brother in the Lord”. We both cared about our fellow human beings and the state of the world. And being the great romantic that I am, I loved to watch the interaction between he and Jeaneth, his wife of 28 years.

Our last meeting here on earth was in early April, just before he was to leave town for a visit with his family in Boston. The three of us met again for lunch and Ed came, bearing gifts of orchid cuttings for me. I was happy to see him looking so well, after having gone through several weeks of chemotherapy for cancer. He was upbeat and happy, although minus his ponytail that had become his trademark — Jeaneth had cut it off before the chemo took his hair out.

Ed made the trip to Boston but was stricken with a massive stroke while there. His daughter, Gina Anderhub, kept me abreast of his progress until he was medically fit enough to be brought back home.

Ed died on June 16, leaving a great big void in the heart of his family, and in my heart also. I am so thankful that we got to know each other; that I got to hold his hand one last time, to say “I love you” and to have him squeeze my hand in acknowledgment. Ed was laid to rest on June 30.

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Bishop Walter H. Richardson, center, joins the Tabernacle Gospel Inspirational Choir in a song during a Sunday morning service at The Church of God Tabernacle in Liberty City, Sunday, May 20, 2007. Jerome T. Nakagawa

‘Pillar of our community’ named Jackson Health chair

Now for some happy news:

Congratulations to the Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson, who on June 29, was voted chairman of Jackson Health System’s governing board.

Richardson, a prominent religious leader, and public servant, previously served as the PHT’s vice chairman. He was elected chair at the Public Health Trust (PHT) Board of Trustees meeting and replaces outgoing chairman William J. Heffernan.

Carlos A. Migoya, CEO of Jackson Health System said, “Dr. Richardson is a pillar of our community who understands the unique role we play in ensuring everyone in Miami-Dade County has access to world-class health care. He has been a tireless supporter and advocate for our patients and employees, and I look forward to working alongside him as we continue to build a future for Jackson where innovation, expertise, and compassionate care are at the forefront of everything we do.”

As one who has known Richardson most of his life, I believe he is the right person for the job. He is a man who believes in getting things done. A fifth-generation preacher, Richardson has emerged as one of the most well-known, spirit-filled preachers, named, and educators of our time.

When he became the pastor of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in Perrine in 1983, the small church had a membership of about 125 members, who met twice a month for Sunday worship. The tiny membership did nothing to deter Richardson’s enthusiasm. And in a few short years the church had outgrown its walls and a new sanctuary had to be built.

A few years later, Sweet Home had become a megachurch, had again outgrown its walls with thousands of worshipers and multiple worship services each week. Soon, another sanctuary was built to accommodate the membership. Richardson is now pastor emeritus at Sweet Home, having retired in 2010.

A former adjunct professor of religion at St. Thomas University, Richardson is knowledgeable in the world’s religions and is often called upon as a speaker, in the religious world as well as the secular world. He also is a noted pianist, author and choir director, and serves as the chaplain for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

He has been a leading voice for social change throughout the state of Florida and his opinions are sought after to address issues that negatively affect the marginalized — whether women, Blacks, or any other disenfranchised group. He also is the recipient of many awards, honors, and proclamations.

Said Richardson: “Jackson Health System is undoubtedly one of our community’s most valuable resources and, as a former patient, I can attest that the lifesaving work done throughout the health system is awe-inspiring. Having the opportunity to lead the Public Health Trust Board of Trustees is a great, and an honor that I do not take lightly, or for granted.”

Richardson is a native Miamian. He and M. Dolores, his wife of 54 years, are the parents of Walter LaMark Richardson and LaKisha Richardson Jones and are the grandparents of 12 and the great-grandparents of two.

The Links has new president

Congratulations are also in order to Kamila E. Pritchett, who recently was elected president of the Greater Miami Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Pritchett, who was elected to serve the organization through 2024, is a third-generation member of The Links, a nonprofit corporation geared to “enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African Ancestry.”

She joined The Greater Miami chapter in 2012, has served as the chapter’s journalist and program chair, and is a graduate of the organization’s prestigious Scott Hawkins Leadership Institute.

“It is truly my honor to carry on the legacy of the women of my family, who taught me the importance of friendship and service,” Pritchett said. “…The Links, Inc. has enriched my life, from the friendships with dynamic women from throughout the country and beyond, to having the opportunity to work closely with the programs that impact our community, and the leadership training I have received through the Scott Hawkins Leadership Institute. I am eager to serve and give back to an organization that has done so much for me.”

Pritchett was also recently appointed to serve as the Operations and Programming Manager of the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of South Florida. Prior to joining the Black Archives, she worked as a community liaison for the Healthy Start Coalition of Miami-Dade and has also been a journalist for the Forum Publishing Group/Tribune Company.

Pritchett has a bachelor’s degree in English with a certificate in African New World Studies from Florida International University and an associate degree in journalism from Miami-Dade College. She also is a third-generation Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Member.

The Links organization is comprised of over 16,000 professional women of color in 306 chapters across the United States, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom.

The Miami chapter was organized on Nov. 5, 1955. Since its inception, the local chapter has provided ongoing transformational programming and services in the South Florida community and beyond.

New chair, vice chair at Greater Miami Jewish Federation

A warm Neighbors salute to Ariel Bentata and Lily Serviansky, the recently elected chair and vice chair respectively, of the board of directors of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.

Bentata succeeds Isaac K. “Ike” Fisher, who led the organization for the past two years.

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Bea L. Hines can be reached at bea.hines@gmail.com


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