Anthony J. Ferrara

June 10th, 2012

Mr. Anthony J. Ferrara, 85, of Wilmington, died at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill on Sunday, June 10th.  Born in Boston, the son of the late Angelina (D’Amore) Ferrara who came to Boston from Monte Fredane, Avelino, Italy, and Vincent A. Ferrara of East Boston, he had lived most of his life in Wilmington.

Mr. Ferrara worked as a cabinet maker, furniture finisher, swimming pool installer, and long shore man before returning to school later in life to earn his GED and then a Bachelors Degree from Northeastern Univeristy, working full time while earning his degree over a period of eight years.

He began his new career as a Family Therapist volunteering at the Middlesex Guidance center.  His successful efforts at the center led to a position charged with establishing a “Therapeutic Gym” which later became Mr. Ferrara’s lengendary “Mind and Body in Harmony”.  The new program attracted the interest of many school systems, beginning with Melrose and Stoneham.  The successes that he and his colleagues achieved came to the attention of famed Harvard behaviorist B.F. Skinner who visited the program and addressed the staff, noting Mr. Ferrara’s
achievements in his remarks. Later, he was to launch an independent effort, creating his own “Activity Center” to carry on the therapeutic gym concept that he had pioneered..

Mr. Ferrara’s unconventional approach was based on his finding that the two most devastating ways to destroy self-esteem were over-correcting and over-protecting.  His approach is outlined in a book that he published, “Beyond Parenting: When Love Gets In The Way.”

Mr. Ferrara loved to work. And he was passionate about singing, dancing, and body building. For years, he was an active member of the Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America.  On many occasions, he would break into song with his family and friends.

His love of dancing led him to meeting, and then marrying, Evelyn (Meuse) Ferrara, his wife of 56 years.  Both shared a passion for dancing and they served as dance instructors and organizers of dance groups including the Wilmington Dance Party.

In his early years, growing up in the rough and tumble East Boston neighborhood, Mr. Ferrara became a committed body builder.  He was proud of his physique and he exercised regularly until a few years ago when his health would no longer permit it. For many years, he could be seen daily at the Marriott Burlington, working out in their exercise facility and holding court with his large circle of friends.

Once married, Mr. Ferrara set out to build a house for his family.  Drawing upon his carpentry experience, he built and finished the house that is still the family home in Wilmington.  In some recent writing, he described digging trenches and excavating for the septic system by hand to save money.  He thrived on hard work.

For many years, Mr. Ferrara contributed a regular column to the Town Crier, entitled The Family Therapist.  He was often sought after for advice and many times he would encounter former participants in his program who had been able to move forward and enjoy successful lives as a result of his counseling.

Family, “la famiglia”, was very important to Mr. Ferrara as was his circle of close friends, many of whom accompanied him on his regular visits to Wilmington’s “As Good As It Gets” for his morning breakfast, a habit that lasted until he entered the hospital just a few weeks before his passing.

In addition to his wife, Evelyn, Mr. Ferrara leaves a daughter, Rene’ Lake-Gagliardi and her husband Peter A. Gagliardi of South Royalston, MA; a son, Vincent J. Ferrara and his wife, Dianna (Loubier) Ferrara, of Hooksett, NH; a granddaughter, Angelina (Lake) Sutherland and her husband Todd, of Pepperell, MA; a grandson, Anthony V. Lake and his partner, Jeanette Beaudette, of Nashua, NH; and step-grandchildren Tori, Zach, and Gabe Loubier.  In addition, he leaves two great grandsons, Justin Desmarais and Vincent Noah Lake.

He was pre-deceased by his parents, a sister, Rose (Ferrara) Sibelian, and a grandson, Vincent H. Lake, and is survived by a nephew, Kenneth Sibelian and his family of Tigard, Oregon.

Family and friends will gather at the Nichols Funeral Home, Inc., 187 Middlesex Ave. (Rte. 62), Wilmington, on Thursday, June 14th at 11:00 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, 126 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington at 12:00 noon.  Interment Wildwood Cemetery, Wilmington. Visiting hours Wednesday, June 13th from 4-8 p.m.  In lieu of flowers donations in Anthony’s memory may be made to Lahey Clinic Cardiac Unit, Development Office, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA  01803.


26 Entries in Guest Book for “Anthony J. Ferrara”

  1. Vinney Ferrara says:

    Love you Dad. Will miss you but know that you are now comfortable and safe. We spoke to so many of your friends these past few days, know that you were loved by so many. This week we will celebrate your life remembering the good times and never forgeting how you touched us all. So get some rest Dad as you deserve it. Love you so much, bye for now.

  2. Joyce McQuaid says:

    I remember all the discussions we had concerning children & youths and their behavior and values. You will truly be missed. What Uncle Tony did was extrodinary when it came to adolescents minds. You’ve changed many lives and you won’t be forgotton. Rest in peace!

    Joyce (just one of your big fans).

  3. Lydia Chen says:

    Thank-you Mr Ferrara for giving my husband Tom the Best Friend anyone could have. You not only built a home ,you made a Wonderful man, Vinny he is a reflection of you. May you be At Peace.Hugs to your mom & will keep you all in my prayers.
    The Chens

  4. Richard Payeur says:

    My sympathies to Tony’s Family.
    I am one of his many friends who saw him at breakfast almost every morning. We always had the best conversations, his family became the source of many conversations and he was so proud when he spoke of them.
    We’ve also seen many pictures, read parts of many books, and spoke on so many subjects, therapy, body building, religion, and daily events. he was a wonderful man who will be missed immensely! We were so blessed to share a small part of his life. Rest well my friend.

  5. Rene' (Ferrara) Lake-Gagliardi says:

    You can rest now. You are loved by so many and will continue to live through each of us. Your “work” will continue in many ways. Embracing family and friends, opening your heart so that it can be seen and shared, a valued exchange – thank you for those life’s lessons. I love you for so many reason. I will miss you so much but I know you’re with your mom, dad, and sister, and you are at peace.

  6. Kenneth Sibelian says:

    I am Uncle Anthony’s nephew. I had the honor of being with my uncle during his final hours. This was a gift that uncle gave me. I was blessed by him. Growing up, I was present for my uncle’s progression from master carpenter to professional therapist. He had a burning desire to learn and then to teach…to help those who needed his wisdom, insight and strength. He was a powerful man who never let me forget who I was and from where I came. Family was so very important to him. He always called me his “favorite” nephew. It didn’t dawn on me until he told me one day that I was his only nephew. It was our joke. I loved my uncl;e dearly. I respected him…I admired him….I will miss him. It may be somewhat

  7. Dottie Smalley says:

    My husband and I are friends of Vinney’s. We are saddened by your loss. Family is everything and we hope that all of the wonderful memories of Mr. Ferrara to carry his family through this sad time.

    Warmest Regards,

    Phil & Dottie Smalley

  8. Terry & Pam Lewis says:

    Our family and my sister are lucky to have Vinny as a part of our family. Our sincerest sympathy are with Vinny and his family. You will be in our thoughts and prayers at your time of loss.

    Terry and Pam Lewis

  9. Brenda & Roy Carr & Mark Mac Kinnon says:

    Tony, you will be missed so much…
    You and Evelyn have been in my life since I was 15 and Roy’s buddy since 1991…
    You two are the best neighbors and friends anyone could hope for… we will miss all the long talks we used to have in the screenhouse about life, kids and politics..
    We wish you a peaceful journey and we will all be together soon enough….
    Mark will miss the long talks you two used to have too…You helped him so much…
    You helped so many kids in this life I’m sure GOD has a special job for you already picked out….Brenda & Roy Carr & Mark Mac Kinnon

  10. Lynn Cooper says:

    I was lucky enough to have Tony as a dear friend for almost 40 years, since September of 1972 when we both found ourselves working for the Eastern Middlesex Guidance Center in Melrose. During our frequent lunches (weekly for many years, every few weeks in the last few years), we shared our lives (the good, the bad, and the wonderful), talked about issues and problems related to our work as therapists (Tony was always a dependable resource for good advice on a difficult case problem), argued about politics (always resulting in reminding each other that our friendship was more important than our disagreements), discussed Tony’s writing (I was one of his volunteer editors), became fond of each other’s families, and last but not least, sang together. Tony could harmonize to anything while I loved the melody line, and we started singing together many years ago when he introduced me to barbershop singing. When I visited him in the hospital many years ago after his major heart attack, we sang together while he was in the intensive cardiac care unit! He was an amazing friend and human being, our friendship lasted until the end, and I will sorely miss him.

  11. Betty Jeanne Rice says:

    Dear Evelyn and Family,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Anthony was a great man, he will be missed!

    Love, Betty Jeanne and Patrick Rice
    (Len and Betty’s daughter and husband)

  12. Tina Braceland says:

    Dear Evelyn and family=my sincere condolences on Tony’s passing. I had the good fortune to know him many years especially at the health club where we gathered to have coffee together with Jack , his friend. My prayers are with you and your family. We shall miss him, and all his wonderful articles that he shared with us…Caring wishes…Tina

  13. Jim Kappel says:

    There are just a few very special people in our lives, those that give us encouragement, balance, curiosity, perspective and humor. I am a relative newcomer to the Tony Ferrara club but I know of no other person who loved life the way he did, and in that process, filled others with optimism and confidence. Every person in his proximity greeted Tony with a genuine smile, and often with a hug – because every person knew him, really new him. And were better for it. I am so grateful for our friendship and his enormous wisdom. He was, as he said many times, “an old pal,” and I will miss him dearly.

  14. Mark A Melaragni says:

    Farewell Doc, you’ve given to me as much as my own parents have. Everytime i came to your home, i alway’s felt i was with family. In my life that was huge for me, and i alway’s appreciated it. Thank’s for the love, the education, the support, the humor, the singing, and everything else you gave to me and my family. You will be sorely missed, and alway’s loved. Mark Melaragni

  15. Nancy Ferron says:


    Please accept our sincere condolences at your dad’s passing.

    Nancy and Joan

  16. David May says:

    It was so easy to listen to you because you had great insight to human behavior. I am going to miss your laugh, jokes, great advice, and friendship.
    Always, David

  17. Diane Vaughn says:

    To Tony’s wonderful family, my deepest sympathy… I am one of Tony’s breakfast friends at, “As Good As it Gets”. Almost every morning he was there when I needed a shoulder to cry on , some counseling for my son and grand daughter, or just a lesson in speaking Italian. We had many conversations about religion, politics and ofcourse family, Tony was so proud of his children and especially his grandchildren. I miss him so much…Mi Resta un Caro Recordo di Anthony…Memory of Anthony is still dear to me….
    Diane Vaughn

  18. Nick and Linda Liadis says:

    Dear Vinny,
    So sorry to hear about your dad’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Nick and Linda

  19. Manny & Lesley Pimentel says:

    To Tony’s Wife and Family, We are very sorry about your husband and Dad. Our Sympathy goes out to you all. We are good friends of Lenny & Betty Spadafora and they talked very highly of you Tony. May God Bless you Manny & Lesley Pimentel

  20. Charles & Marlene Monton says:

    Vinney, Dianna and family.
    Our prayers and thoughts are with you at this difficult time. An amazing article on your dad with his obit. He sure sounds like a great person and loved by all. Love you all! Mom & Dad Monton

  21. Cathy and Sunil Sadhwani says:


    Our sincerest condolences on the passing of your father. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family during this difficult time.

    Cathy and Sunil

  22. Richard Payeur says:

    I attended Tony’s wake last night, I had never met any of his family!
    Tony, I can now understand why you were so very proud of them, from your wife, to your children, to your beautiful grandchildren. What a truly wonderful relection on you and Evelyn. Miss you Tony!

  23. Carmen Salviati says:

    I am Tony’s lifelong friend. We grew up together on Lexington street in East Boston. We lived directly across from each other. Gaslight on the sidewalk. Tony lived in a huge house owned by his grandparents with three uncles and two aunts. Uncle Ben FERRIS perfored as circus Strongman. Our love of Music began as teenages singing in the Sacred Heart Church Chior. This led us to form a barbarshop quartet the “Loganaiers” (Logan Airport). Tony-Tenor, Carmen Salviati-Lead, Frank Sheehan-Baritone & Director, Mel Zeuli-Bass. We joined the Boston Chapter of the S.P.E.B.S.Q.A,Inc.. We had many fun times singing throughout New England and family and friend gatherings. Tony and I being bodybuilders joined the Boston YMCU, on Boylston Street. We enjoyed being at Revere Beach. Fun Times. Tony was an Excellant dancer. We enjoyed the Wonderland Ballroom in Revere. We attended weeked retreats over many years at St. Gabrials Monastery in Brighton, behind St. Elizabets Hospital. Fr. Lucian Ducie, Passionist Order, an amazing person led the retreats. Tony and I enjoyed many wonderful times growing up in East Boston!!! In time the Quartet moved out of E.B., Tony to Wilmington, Frank to Peabody, Mel to Sharon, and I to Melrose. I raised seven children with my wife Peggy and have thirteen grandchildren. I was glad I talked with Tony recently while he was in the hospital. He has a wonderful family!!! Tony and family are in my prayers. Rest in Peace my FRIEND.

  24. Donna Salviati says:

    My prayers to all of Tony’s friends and family. My dad was his friend since childhood and although miles apart, continued to stay friends. That says so much about their generation and the staying power of friendship. I remember spending time with Tony when I was a kid and listening to 78 recordings of “The Loganaiers.” My favorite being “Good bye My Coney Island Baby” I think I still have that 78 record somewhere. I’ll have to go looking for it. We were all blessed to have known him. I know my dad will miss his old friend. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. God Bless you all!

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