By Cary Shuman
Some knew him for his athletic excellence, a brilliant multi-sport career that took him from Essex Street and Shurtleff School to Chelsea High School, where he was an All-Scholastic, to a Division 1 college football scholarship at Kansas State University.
Others knew him as their Chelsea High School football coach. At Malden High School he was also a beloved teacher and coach. He was so admired and revered in both communities that he earned the rare distinction of being inducted in to the Chelsea High and Golden Tornado Halls of Hame.
He helped hundreds of students on to college, making sure the path in life they were continuing on was the right one. He did noble deeds such as these quietly and without fanfare. Personal recognition was never his goal, it was simply doing things large and small to help others succeed in life.
Anthony “Chubby” Tiro, who served as chairman of the Chelsea School Committee and chairman of the Shore Collaborative, died last Wednesday after a brief illness. The man with the strong and tough exterior – some felt he was indestructible – and the big heart inside is gone at the age of 80 and the tributes have been pouring in from those who had the honor and pleasure of knowing Anthony “Chubby” Tiro.
Frank DePatto was a sophomore at Chelsea High School when Chubby Tiro was the most popular student in the school. Chubby was captain of the football team, a state champion in track, class president, and a member of the National Honor Society.
“I was in the Class of 1957 and he was the captain of the football team,” recalled DePatto. “I always looked up to Chubby. He was one of my mentors.”
DePatto recalled that when he ran for class president, he asked Chubby if he could use his speech for class president. Chubby kindly obliged and DePatto was forever grateful.
“Any time I had any issue whether it was personal or athletic, I could always count on Chubby being fair and giving me the best advice. He was always an advocate for all students whether they be athletes or not.”
DePatto recalled that it was Chubby Tiro who joined with his longtime friend, Arnold Goodman, to launch the Chelsea Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame. Years earlier Chubby had founded the Chelsea Pop Warner organization that launched the careers of so many football players and cheerleaders.
Mark Bavaro, a former All-American football player at Notre Dame and All-Pro tight end for the New York Giants, offered the highest praise for Chubby Tiro and the immense impact he had on his life from childhood to adulthood. Mark’s father, Anthony “Wally” Bavaro, and Chubby Tiro’s were colleagues and friends.
“He was very influential in my upbringing,” said Mark. “I was hanging around the Tiro house since I can remember. We were there all the time, especially on the weekends. I remember Saturday mornings and the Tiros getting bags and bags of bagels and cream cheese and it seemed like everybody in Chelsea was over their house. I would play games with his sons Robbie and Tony and Robin as well. My father loved Chubby and Anna was just great. They were like my second family.”
Bavaro fondly remembers Chubby and his Chelsea friends like Arnold Goodman, Joe Bevere, Abe Garnick, John Barooshian making the trip to New York Giants games to watch him play in the NFL. Chubby also attended the two Giants’ Super Bowl victories when Mark starred for the Giants.
“They were always great supporters. I loved having them there. They were unbelievably entertaining and they were a lot of fun. They couldn’t have been more supportive of me, always saying good things no matter how I played or whatever happened in the game. It was always nice to hear how well you played even when you sometimes had horrible games. It was nice to see familiar faces down in New York.”
Mark said Chubby and Anna Tiro and their family were very supportive when he lost his father, Wally, in 2002.
Mark said his wife taught one of the Tiro grandchildren, Robbie Tiro Jr., at St. John’s Prep. Robbie graduated from Holy Cross and is a member of the Wakefield School Committee.
“Robbie was one of her favorite students,” recalled Mark. “Our families are intertwined. Chubby Tiro was a huge influence in my life because he was a huge man and a huge presence. I loved him dearly and my heart goes out to the family.”
The name “Tiro” was special in Chelsea and the three Tiro children learned the pride and honor associated with it at an early age.
“At a young age I kind of knew my father had something good about him and maybe even great,” said Tony V. Tiro, the youngest of the three Tiro children.
Kids wanted to hang around with Robbie Tiro and wanted him on their team at Camp Robie because they knew Robbie was a great athlete and had the Tiro competitive fire. Robbie’s Pop Warner team almost won a state title. He became the quarterback and captain at Malden Catholic High School.
Robin Tiro became captain of the Chelsea High School cheerleading squad. She was pretty and popular and personable and a credit to the family name. And the Tiro family’s decades of athletic accomplishment is being carried on by Stephen and Robin Tiro Kinnon’s son, Nick Kinnon, a superb wide receiver for the Lynnfield High school football team and a college football prospect.
Tony. Tiro was a superstar in the Pop Warner organization that his father founded. He continued that football and track brilliance at Malden High School, exhibiting the speed and strength and leadership that his father had demonstrated during his majestic sports career.
“I ran track and played football at Malden High, Tony said humbly.
The children of Tony V. and Lisa Tiro, T.J. Tiro, Gianna Tiro, and Bria Tiro, also excelled in academics and sports. T.J., who played three sports and “could jump through the roof,” according to Savio basketball coach Frank Shea, is an acting lieutenant in the Chelsea Fire Department. Gianna was a cheerleader at Bishop Fenwick High School. Bria, a star at St. Mary’s High School, earned a scholarship to Lemoyne College and completed her basketball career at Emanuel College.
Tony Tiro said the true love in his father’s life was his wife, Anna.
“My father did everything for her and he loved her with all his heart,” said Tony. “They started dating in the sixth grade. They were married for 58 years.”
For a man who coached teams and secretly bought sneakers for athletes in acts of kindness and generosity, the greatest team of all was Chubby and Anna Tiro.
“My father was a tough, strong guy but his biggest attribute was his kindness,” said Tony. “My father made a lasting impression on a lot of people.”
Tony Tiro is grateful to all the people who have extended their condolences to the family. Friends can make a donation in memory of Anthony “Chubby” Tiro’s to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Sean O’Regan, the current president of the Chelsea Little League and member of the Chelsea School Committee, said he often heard stories about the greatness of Chubby Tiro and how he would “go the extra mile” for a kid. O’Regan said he wants to carry on Chubby’s contribution to this city’s youth in his position. He will ask a member of the Tiro family to throw out the first ball on Opening Day this spring, a tremendous gesture for a man who Chelsea will never forget.
“Chubby Tiro was a true legend, a real class act who fought for the children of the city of Chelsea. He will sadly be missed. My condolences to the Tiro family.”
Said Council President Leo Robinson, who will call upon his colleagues for a special tribute to Chubby Tiro, “He was my junior high football coach and I have so many great memories of Chubby. His service on the Chelsea School Committee was excellent. He fought for the children of Chelsea and was a remarkable man. He affected so many lives in a positive way. Chelsea has lone of its all-time greats.”
The “Tiro” name was special and his three children, Robbie, Robin, and A
Others knew him for his coaching and his teaching.
But Anthony “Chubby” Tiro, who touched so many people in a positive way