Massaro remembered as educator, community man
Nick Massaro, a former superintendent of schools and principal at Glenwood Springs High School, is being remembered as a stalwart in the community and a staunch advocate for improving education.
Massaro served as principal of two Roaring Fork School District Re-1 high schools, Basalt and Glenwood Springs in the 1950s and ’60s, and as district superintendent until 1983. He died Friday at his home in Grand Junction. He was 88.
“We were more small-town in those days, so everybody knew who Nick was,” said longtime teacher and coach Rocky Whitworth, who now coaches the Glenwood High football team.
“He was just an outstanding guy who had a great vision for the three school communities, and it was all about the kids,” Whitworth said. “Keeping up with growth was always a factor, even in the ’70s. He had a way of maintaining a good, positive relationship with teachers and administrators, and the community leaders.”
Sons Chris and Mike Massaro remember growing up and going to school with their dad as superintendent.
“He did a lot for the high schools athletically, including helping to start women’s sports,” Chris Massaro said. “He brought out the potential in people to achieve their best, and motivated kids to accomplish their dreams.”
Added Mike Massaro, “He brought all of the schools to a new standard, with the teachers he hired and the quality he demanded.”
After his retirement, Nick Massaro served for many years as chief administrator for the L.S. Woods Charitable Trust, which provided students scholarships and teacher grants and loans in Roaring Fork Valley and Rifle-area schools.
In 2008, his namesake was given to the Nick Massaro Education Scholarship, which is given each year to a Glenwood Springs High School senior who is pursuing a career in education, or to the son or daughter of a RFSD teacher.
Former Glenwood Springs High Principal Mike Wells was hired by Massaro in 1980 and now sits on the scholarship board.
“He was clearly a mentor to me when I started,” Wells said. “I was pretty green taking on my first principal’s job, and what a great man to learn from.
“He held everyone, including himself, to a very high standard and had high expectations for everyone who worked for him,” Wells said. “It served us all well to be held accountable to that high standard.”
That expectation extended to the students who would apply for the L.S. Wood scholarship, whom he would often interview personally, Wells noted.
Shannon Pelland, the current chief financial officer for the school district, and Gayla Rowe, assistant principal at Glenwood Springs High, were both students when Massaro was superintendent.
“He was my mom’s principal in Basalt,” Rowe said. “He was just such a central figure in the community for so many years, and he really believed in having an educated populace.”
Pelland’s family was very close with the Massaro family when she was growing up, and that friendship continued when she began working in the district office.
“It was fun when I came to work for the school district, because I would hear stories from the other employees who had worked with him,” Pelland said. “Everybody knew who was boss when he was here. He was so well-respected and admired by those who worked for him.”
There will be a funeral Mass at noon today at St. Stephens in Glenwood Springs, followed by burial at Rosebud Cemetery and a celebration of life to follow at the Hotel Colorado.
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