They call themselves Rudy’s Tigers — a relentless, never-say-die bunch of fitness buffs who are putting old age to shame.
You’ll find them most any day at the Greater Haverhill YMCA working the treadmills and elliptical machines, fighting off the tired bones and aching bodies that sometimes impede folks even younger than them.
Talk to 90-year-old Ted DeRoche, the patriarch of the group, and he’ll be the first to admit that exercise is a way of life. Doing it with others — your best friends — makes it more compatible.
DeRoche spent his working years at AT&T Technologies and his non-working years visiting a wife who was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease for eight years. Only when he climbed mountains did he hand over the visitation rights to another member of his family. They came anyway at other times so DeRoche could maintain a life of fitness.
The “professor” of Rudy’s Tigers, as he’s known, is Dr. Gene Grillo, another AT&T product who spent 35 years teaching physiology and biochemistry at Boston University. For 16 years, he was a city councilor in Haverhill. Few have loved this city more than him.
Then there’s Morris Piccolo. You may know him as the city’s Realtor emeritus. Despite his 84 years, he’s still selling houses, bouncing up and down the streets with many a community interest, and dodging one physical impediment after another.
The “baby” of the group, at age 76, is Bernie Clohisy, the guy who’s a self-appointed sergeant-at-arms, keeping the crew in order. He, too, is an AT&T retiree and has kept Gazette readers informed over the years with his nostalgic snippets.
They are all protégés of Rudy Valenzi, a former fitness director at the YMCA, who started this group 45 years ago. At one time, they numbered 300. Now, there are four originals remaining. Another Tiger, Danny Piccolo, hopped aboard two years after the group formed.