POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

A New Vision -- A New Version

by David Trumbull

May 11, 2007

The heading for this column is taken from Cambridge School Committee campaign literature of more than 40 years ago. It's still an up-to-date message. How typical of that candidate for office, A. George Catavolo, who died May 2nd at age 88.

I'll miss him. I learnt a lot from George as from a an older man with great wisdom, if not formal education. And yet for an older man (he was in his mid 70s when I met him) he was very forward in his thinking. All his political activity was directed toward leaving a better city, state, and country for his own and other children and grandchildren.

Over the course of two decades he ran, and ran, and ran for School Committee. He never won. He must have been disappointed, but I cannot believe he was ever disheartened. While other candidates print up small promotional cards, often with little substance, "The Cat" printed an 8-page tabloid newspaper full of his ideas for improving the local school. He even included open letters to the Governor of the Commonwealth and the President of the U.S. full of his ideas for modernizing our schools and making them more effective learning centers for all children. For George running for office was not about George, it was about ideas for improving the schools.

George was a man with a plan. He had ideas --so many ideas-- for how we could better prepare the next generation of Americans. Running for office gave him a vehicle for getting those ideas out to people. A Republican and a conservative, George had no use for huge government-backed social engineering schemes. But he knew that there was role for government at every level to promote education, particularly vocational education. He learnt his own trade, radio and television repair when he was in the U.S. Army in World War Two.

That trade enabled him to raise a family. And in retirement gave him the means and leisure to continue to give to the community. He probably could have gotten a nice rent for his old television repair shop; instead he gave it, free of charge, to various groups for public meetings. It was my campaign office when I ran for city councillor.

In his 70s he ran for office again, for representative in the General Court. His slogan was "For our children's sake, for our grandchildren and the future." That was George, always looking ahead, always striving to leave this world a better place for future generations.