Named 2010 Citizen of the Year by Rotary
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, May 7, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[John Carden photo]
HAMPTON -- Ralph Fatello is known to wear many hats in the Hampton community. He's commander of the American Legion Post 35, surfer/blogger for "Ralph's pic of week" and, of course, lead singer of Big Handsome Daddy.
On Tuesday, May 4 the Hampton Rotary Club said their was nobody more deserving to be named Citizen of the Year than the renaissance man himself.
"He is the kind of person that puts Hampton on the map, but in a good way," said former Selectman Fred Rice, who nominated Fatello for the award.
"If something needs to be done, he wants it done right now. He has gotten more done in the town of Hampton in the last three or four years than all the Board of Selectmen, town managers, boards, commissions and everything else in the last decade."
Fatello was honored at the Ashworth by the Sea Tuesday for his work as commander of the legion, his commitment to the school community and his volunteerism, including surfing every day for a year to raise $30,000 for the Diabetes Foundation.
"I'm truly humbled," said Fatello, who thought he was at the event to honor someone else, but the tables were turned on him.
Joe Kutt of the Legion said Fatello is a Vietnam veteran who has done a lot as commander of Post 35, including spearheading the campaign to erect a first-of-its-kind monument honoring the names of those from New Hampshire who lost their lives fighting in the Global War of Terrorism.
He said Fatello also worked to recognize two of Hampton's own Vietnam War heroes — Bruce Brown and Mark Brown — who lost their lives in the service of their country but were never honored by the town.
"Ralph Fatello is a true-blooded American," Kutt said. In addition to organizing every Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebration in town, Fatello is also a volunteer for the Pease Greeters as well as the Wounded Warrior project.
"When the firing starts and the shooting begins, there is no one I'd rather have in my fox hole than Ralph Fatello," Kutt said.
Surf legend Kevin Grondin, who has known Fatello since the days they used to have crab apple fights when they were kids, said Fatello is a true renaissance man.
"I just want to know what's next," Grondin said.
He talked about another side of Fatello: the surfer, the musician and the family man.
Fatello is married and has three children.
Grondin said people may not know that Fatello is a legend in the surf community.
"One of the most important facts to Ralph is that Ralph still has a perfect record of surfing," Grondin said. "He never lost a contest."
Over the years, he said, Fatello has performed in many bands, including the Nor'easters, which toured across the country and had a hit on WBCN.
While Grondin left out a lot of rock 'n' roll stories that occurred on the road, he did share a funny story about how Fatello bought a dinner for a couple of struggling artists. Those artists turned out to be the Police.
"It was Sting himself," Grondin said.
Hampton Academy Principal Dave O'Connor said Fatello has done a lot for the schools in Hampton, including working vigorously to get the Marston School addition and Winnacunnet High School renovation project to pass.
"When you want something done you got Ralph and he gets the word out," O'Connor said.
Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan spoke about how Fatello supports local sports, including coaching Warrior Football, and how he recently helped out the Police Department by producing a short promotional video to attain more recruits.
"The Rotary motto is service above self," Sullivan said. "Anyone who knows Ralph, that is someone who we are talking about."
In addition to being named their Citizen of the Year, the Rotary presented Fatello with a $1,000 check to go toward his favorite charity. It will go to the Global War On Terrorism Monument.
The Post is currently fund-raising to add to the monument because there is room only for five more names.
[John Carden photo]