On June 18, 2015, Dr. Pappas made his last “house call” to MHS. The occasion was a
dinner to celebrate the retirement of our beloved Director of Recreation, Dick Crisafulli.
Dick, for those of you who know him and those who don’t, is a man who possesses the
purest of heart and the most devious of minds. He has a gift for tricking the tired kids of
MHS into pushing themselves just a little harder at the end of their very busy day. Dick
equated joy with fatigue, and exhaustion with happiness. And from the smiling faces that
always surrounded him, you knew he’d found himself a winning combination.
Dr. Pappas arrived for the event in his wheel chair. For the past several years the proud
body of this orthopedic and sports medicine pioneer had been in rapid decline The
wheel chair may have defined his body but in no way confined his gifted mind. He spoke
without notes, vividly recalling Dick’s many accomplishments at Mass Hospital as well
as his contributions in the field of Adaptive Physical Education. Eyeballing the two of
these legends, side by side, meant taking in over 100 years of heart and soul dedicated to
championing the able in the hard fought battles of the disabled. These kindly gentlemen
are true innovators; movers and shakers if you will, who personally changed the lives of
thousands of disabled children.
That night, in five minutes of listening to Dr. Pappas, I learned a dozen new things about
Dick Crisafulli. Not long after the echo of the last speech faded into the woodwork, I
learned a thing or two about my esteemed dinner companion; a man who first came to
the Hospital School in 1968 at the height of his professional powers:
“At that time I thought, what an opportunity has fallen into my lap.
A chance to test my belief that those with disabilities are entitled to an aggressive and
demanding regimen of treatment and should not be forced to settle for custodial care that
hides its indifference behind a mask of passivity and benign neglect”
And tested he did. No other person left such an indelible mark on this hospital, the
children who reside here, the unrivaled care they deserve and receive, or the staff that are
honored to provide it. Arthur Pappas’ efforts on behalf of Mass Hospital were deliberately
outside of the limelight that followed him in virtually every other aspect of his life. His
time here was always one of quiet dignity, tempered only by his unflinching and
uncompromising focus on the health and wellbeing of these courageous kids.
Mass Hospital was never a “photo op” to Arthur Pappas. On the contrary, Mass Hospital
was his labor of love. …a labor that will never be yesterday’s news….a labor we see
every day in all the good he did for MHS.
See you tomorrow, Arthur. You are alive in us all.
–Brian Devin, CEO