Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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November 21, 2013

A vivid remembrance

Kennedy's death still felt 50 years later

Fifty years later, the day remains unforgettable for most everyone.

Friday, Nov. 22, 1963: The day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Just like Sept. 11, people remember exactly where they were that tragic day.

Richard Padova of Andover, a professor in the Global Studies Department at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, was just a toddler.

But the longtime political junkie who has lectured on numerous campaigns over the years has spent his lifetime assembling an impressive collection of Kennedy memorabilia and keepsakes from the era.

He will share his treasure trove this weekend as part of NECC’s “A Weekend of Remembrance: The Story of JFK.” The free event, which is open to the public, will commemorate the life and legacy of President Kennedy.

”I just wanted to do this in honor of the president,” said Padova, who is organizing the remembrance on NECC’s Haverhill campus.

Padova enlisted the services of fellow Andover resident Francis “Frank” O’Connor, who will lead a talk on his “foot-soldiering days” spent knocking on doors in New Hampshire rounding up support for Kennedy during his various bids for office.

“It was a love affair as people liked him (Kennedy) so much,” O’Connor recalled. “They would invite me in, offer me tea .... I have never seen anything like it since then.”

As a highlight of the weekend, Padova is opening his Kennedy collection that includes an invitation packet to a dinner that was to be held in Dallas, Texas, the evening Kennedy was assassinated and a memento that was given to mourners at JFK’s funeral Mass.

The display, which will be set up in NECC’s Hartleb Technology Center in Haverhill, will also spotlight campaign-related items from Kennedy’s political runs for the House of Representatives, Senate and Oval Office.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini, state Reps. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, and Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury, and Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff will attend the opening ceremony on Friday, Nov. 22, at 10 a.m. in the Hartleb Technology Center.

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