BOSTON (CBS) – Lou Pasquale’s spent his entire adult life making good on a promise. He’s 87 years-old. A World War II veteran. And he still goes to work five days a week at Phillips Old Colony House. He doesn’t have to work. He WANTS to work. And if you ask people who know him, they’ll tell you his real life’s work is helping people.
Boston Police Captain Paul Ivens was thirteen when he met Lou. He says Lou was a guardian—someone who really cared about the kids who came into Phillips’ “Boston Bowl” from Dorchester and South Boston. In those days, they called the Dorchester bowling alley “the alleys.”
Lou managed the place and made sure the kids were safe. He gave them free bowling shoes, free games, free meals and even drove some of them to school. He checked on their siblings and families. If one of the kids was in trouble or in danger of making a mistake, they say Lou was there to steer them in the right direction. And now, decades later, those “kids” come back often to see Lou at work.
“There’s executives, there’s firefighters, there’s police officers like myself,” Ivens told WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes. “A lot of people did very well coming from this area here in Dorchester.”
Was Lou was a part of that success? “Absolutely,” Ivens said, with a smile. “We made it home at night.”
But Lou Pasquale insists he’s the one who benefited most from helping others.
“It molded my life,” he says. “It made MY life happier.”
What drove him to create that happy life was a near-death experience in World War II. Lou was 19 at the time; a machine gunner on the front lines, and always in danger. He was badly wounded in an ammunition dump explosion at Okinawa. Lying there, injured and waiting for rescuers, Lou prayed.
“I looked up and said, ‘God, I promised my mother I’d be home. Because she said she’d kill me if I didn’t come home. I’ll make a promise. If you let me go home, I’ll help an individual every day of my life.’” He’s kept his word. “And it’s made my life beautiful.”
Another key factor in Lou’s beautiful life is his wife, Terri. They met at a Quincy football game when she was still in high school. Years later, they met again at a dance. She’s not sure he remembered her. He insists he did. They’ve been married for 62 years. “It was my destiny to marry Lou,” Terri says. They have two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. “He never sees bad in anybody. He always sees the good and brings that out in them.”
Lou says Terri helped him recover from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He understands what veterans experience returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And he is frustrated that the government isn’t doing more to help them physically and emotionally. “I can’t see why we should go out and beg and sell candy or run tournaments to take care of our boys with no arms and no legs or mental problems. We should not have to do that. But that is what we are doing.”
Since his 80th birthday, Lou’s been working to raise money for vans to take disabled veterans to medical appointments. He holds a golf tournament every spring. And he’s now heading up a drive to sell candy bars from Phillips’ Candy House that directly benefit the Disabled American Veterans. The candy bars are three dollars. Half the money goes to the Massachusetts DAV.
Since Lou began his efforts, the DAV has purchased 19 vans. When Lou asked his friend, Bob Lynch to help him raise money, Lynch says he was happy to join the effort. “It’s contagious. There are people you meet who have a calling. And he obviously had that calling…to help people.”
Lynch was five years-old when he met Lou and calls him a “second father.” He, too, insists that Lou gets more out of helping people than anyone around him.
Maybe. But over the years, Lou’s done a lot of good. He’s keeping his promise every day. And he’s not about to slow down.
To purchase a candy bar that benefits the Disabled American Veterans CLICK HERE.
MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON