Happy 80th birthday, Herbie Kupersmith.
A huge crowd is expected to be on hand when Chelsea honors one of its most prominent and philanthropic individuals on July 27 at the Saul Nechtem Gymnasium.
And what they will be celebrating is not only Herbie Kupersmith’s milestone birthday but all the good deeds that Herbie has done in a life well lived.
Herbie’s proud family, his wife, Cookie, daughters, Karyn, Stacey, and Marci and grandchildren, Michael, Jackie, and Colin head the list of guests that will travel far and wide to be at the party.
Guidance From his Mother and Four Valuable Mentors
Herbie Kupersmith moved from Brooklyn to Chelsea with his mother, Sally, when he was two-and-half years old.
“We lived on 13 Michael’s Place, which was off Williams Street,” said Herbie, an only child. “We were 35 feet away from the Chelsea Dump.”
Four highly respected Chelsea men would become Herbie’s “mentors.”
“Hugh J. McLaughlin, the former mayor, Julius Zeff, teacher and basketball coach, Paul “Choc” Glazer, community leader and head of the YMHA, and Harry Coltun, legal counsel for the Mass. House of Representatives – those four people, along with my mother – made it possible for me to be the person I am today,” said Herbie.
Herbie began attending the Walnut Street Synagogue as a young boy and was bar mitzvahed there in 1952. It was the beginning of his lifelong connection and support of the shul. Through the years Herbie has been instrumental in fundraising and helping the historic shul remain in operation.
What Herbie remembers most about his bar mitzvah was the advice he received from his mother in the form of three letters she had handwritten to him.
“Never drink the cup dry – leave some for other people,” recalled Herbie. “No. 2 was, if you’re going to do something, do it because you want to do it, not because you want to get accolades. And No. 3, my mother wrote, ‘I want you to be a giver, not a taker.’”
Herbie developed a love of sports at a young age. He was the starting guard for the Williams Junior High School basketball team that won 27 games in a row. He later played basketball at Chelsea High School for Coach Saul Nechtem.
Success in the Business World
After high school Herbie took a job at Nunn Bush selling shoes at Kennedy’s and Filene’s.
He had other jobs in sales before taking a position at Bobbie Brooks, a junior sportswear company.
With his magnetic personality, charisma, style, street smarts, common sense, honesty and integrity, Herbie set sales records and took over the entire Boston territory. He remained at Bobbie Brooks for 25 years.
All About Family
He met his future wife, Cookie, on a blind date and they were married in May, 1965.
They began their life together in Malden and moved to Marblehead in December, 1965. They have lived in the town ever since.
The Kupersmiths have three children, Karyn, Stacey, and Marci, all of whom are college graduates. Two of the Kupersmith grandchildren, Michael Walsh and Jackie Walsh, are graduates of Brown University. A third grandchild, Colin Walsh, is a student at Elon College in North Carolina.
A Party for Herbie That is Also a Testimonial
The upcoming birthday party will be a testimonial in many ways, with so many people wanting to thank Herbie for the help and support he has given them in so many ways.
The student-athletes like former Marblehead and Stonehill College basketball standout David Siggers, the coaches like John DiBiaso, the members of the congregation at Walnut Street Synagogue, the business associates, the friends like lifelong buddy Lennie Nelson, the co-chairs of planning committees like the great Minna Karas-Marino, and the city officials like Leo Robinson – they’ll all be there to say “Thank you, Herbie,” for being such a positive, uplifting presence in my life.
Rita’s will cater the gala affair. Comedian Brad Mastrangelo will perform and DJ George Athas will provide the musical entertainment. Former City Manager Jay Ash will be one of the speakers during the program.
“It should be a nice evening,” said Herbie humbly.
True to Herbie’s giving nature, all donations from the birthday party will go toward a scholarship fund for Chelsea students.