Special to the Standard
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. – Most came because they loved him. Others showed up because they knew him. Some knew friends of friends. Many didn’t know him at all.
But from Exeter to Newport, from Middletown to East Greenwich, Coventry to South Kingstown, more than 350 people came to the Atlantic Beach Club on Saturday night to show love and generosity to the family and memory of John J. Hosch. How many thousands did they raise for his two daughters’ college education?
They are probably still counting at this writing.
“The response from the community, community to community, has been huge,” said Holly Stowe, chief organizer along with Hosch’s best friend Peter Raposa. “They responded to John himself. Many knew him and are family. But there are complete strangers here. They told me, ‘We don’t know him, and we don’t know the family, but save us 10 tickets.’ It has been really heart warming.”
Besides the $40-a-plate banquet, more than 100 businesses and families donated valuable items that went for bid in raffles and silent auctions held all evening. “I think we have 112 packages bundled together,” said Stowe. “I know we have 60 silent auction items. A Coventry school baked cookies. Someone brought children’s books to sell. You can do your holiday shopping here before the holidays.”
More than two dozen volunteers were on hand to help out. “There was a tennis committee, a kayaking committee, a fishing committee (all his hobbies), friends helping who never met John. It is really a cross section of the communities. Almost everyone here is a volunteer on call,” said Stowe.
John J. Hosch of Exeter, adventurer, husband and father, friend and mentor, died suddenly at age 46 on April 5, 2010.
Raised in Middletown, he served his country in the U.S. Air Force for four years and worked as an oil deliveryman for Petro Oil for the last 20 years. He left behind his wife Rebecca and his two daughters Adrianna and Olivia. One obsession for the last 17 years was making sure his girls got a college education. Thus, this fund-raising night that has been in the works since May.
The John J. Hosch Memorial Trust was established on Aug. 23. Eventually, all monies raised will go back into the community to help other college-bound students in all of Aquidneck Island, Exeter and Tiverton. In the future, there will be an annual tennis tournament, fishing tournament and a 5K-road/walk race to add to the fund.
John’s widow Rebecca – the youngest of 8 and a renowned youth sports coach herself – said this at the tribute, “It is just overwhelming, heart warming. Words cannot describe how appreciative we are to the community, multiple communities,” said Hosch. “Exeter, West Greenwich, Aquidneck Island, all over. It has been absolutely amazing. We cannot articulate in the proper words, just how we feel. What Peter and Holly and the community has done in such a short time, something they had never done before, well, and it is just amazing.”
Peter Raposa told the crowd, “John was my best friend. He had a dream 17 years ago to send his girls to college.
We’ve worked six months on this. It’s been an amazing journey. No one can do this alone. It would have been John’s birthday tomorrow. He would have been 47.”
Anyone seeking more information or to donate, should go to www.JohnJHoschMemorial-Trust.com .