Fletch set up a couple tables and Monday became ping pong night. On came guys like Ron Prue, Stu Hopkins, myself and a ringer named Don Veltsos, who happened to be a New England champion. Fletch was our coach, except when we needed a spare player. He owned a backhand slam that would make you gasp.
We traveled the circuit, playing other Ys along the North Shore. I don’t ever remember losing, except to one another during practice.
Fletch could also play a mean game of racquetball, even squash. He could shoot hoops with the best of them and never let the color of his skin serve as a barrier. He promoted integration at every level.
When the YMCA started a boxing club, Fletch took over the coaching reins and turned out Golden Gloves champions like Mickey Belmer. Few ever knew that he also had a quality mentor in Ray Davenport, a night clerk behind the YMCA desk. Ray was an imposing fighter in his day before leaving the ring, and you wouldn’t want to mess with the guy. He was a man of color like Fletch.
In a day when playing three sports was more the rule than the exception, Fletch lettered in basketball, football and track at both Newburyport High and Brewster Academy in Maine. He served his country with the Air Force during the Korean Conflict.
After leaving the YMCA, he became a recreational officer for the Massachusetts Correctional Facility in Shirley, guiding inmates toward a positive lifestyle. Limp and all, he never distanced himself from a punching bag or a convicted felon.
He often talked about the goodness in man, no matter how rotten to the core he seemed. Fletch always looked for that rainbow after a storm.
Nobody meant more to him than his beautiful wife of 56 years, Janet, and his two boys, Keith and Bruce, who were also raised the “Y” way.