Lawrence has lost someone legendary

And we in Rumbo, have lost a friend in Francis Benjamín, better known by many as Mr. B, sincere and unconditional.

We met Mr. B several years ago, when he was the director of the Lawrence Police Athletic League, and each day, he alternated his nights between Arlington School and South Lawrence East, where he guarded hundreds of children and young people while they practiced basketball and other activities under strict discipline.

After covering several Mr. B events with his children in the schools, we were impressed by the natural and affectionate way in which they treated each other, always with respect, and thus a friendship between us began.

One fine day, Mr. B approached us with the idea of writing his memoirs for publication in Rumbo. “Some of the people I’m going to write about will enjoy reading about the past,” he told us.

“Of course,” was our response. “I’m sure we’ll publish your stories.” How could we say no? To this point, we didn’t have any notion of his abilities as a writer and even more, write stories many of them based on his memory.

We opened Rumbo’s pages to his first story on May 15, 2005. Honestly, we did not think it would last long. How many stories could he writes? How much memory could he have? Actually, we did not have much expectation.

That feeling did not last long. The first story came in an envelope with 20 other new stories. The second envelope with more stories did not take long to arrive. In summary, he provided 306 new stories that have been published for 12 years and 10 months consecutively until the last edition of February 1st. 2018. And we still have many more, which will be published in his memory.

On March 31, 2016, Mr. B was honored by a group of friends at the premises of Sons of Italy, in Methuen where he launched a compendium of his best memories, bound in a colorful book that had to be re-printed due to the demand. In a gesture typical of him, he dedicated the proceeds of the sale for the benefit of Canal Street Boxing Gym.

Mr. B was born on October 9, 1934; he died on Saturday, February 3, 2018. Lawrence has lost someone legendary. We have lost a great friend, a great human being.