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Fred’s Final Tribute – Remembrance of a Father Loved and a Life Lived.

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A Tribute to Fred Stanganelli – June 27, 2011, St. Lucy Parish, Methuen, Massachusetts:

 

Best Wishes to the Groom: Fred and Steve - Wedding Day, May 25, 2008

We are here to celebrate the life of a good man and a better drummer … as he would say, probably “the best drummer in the country … but I don’t know about the city.” (#84)

A man who was the king of one-liners developed over 40 years playing for bands in night clubs, bars and wedding halls – so many that we decided to number them.

A man who at one time looked so much like the Baker in the Dunkin Donuts commercials of the 1990s that we teased him for it and kept telling him it was “time to make the donuts”.

A man who loved all the good things in life especially his cars.  A man of few words or deep thoughts but who showed his love for his family in so many of the things that he would do.

If a life can be summed up in a phrase it is this:  Being There.  He was there for us, for the most important thing in his life – his family.

On May 4th, Fred Stanganelli, former wedding band drummer and Raytheon retiree, celebrated the 47th anniversary of his 39th birthday at home resting after a recent dialysis treatment.

We celebrated Father’s Day together (Sunday the 19th) in the emergency room of Ana Jacques Hospital in Newburyport before he was transported to Portsmouth.

At 4:11 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, shortly after receiving Last Rites, our father passed away. Good altar boy that he was, he waited.

Fred had a quirky sense of humor which I inherited. So, as Fred would probably say “he’ll never do that again.” (#7)

We are here because of two immigrants in a new land who came from Palermo and Siracusa, Sicily and found each other in Lawrence: Giuseppe Stanganelli and Giuseppina Coco.

Giuseppe (or Joe) was known as George to his coworkers in the mills of Lawrence because there were too many Italians named Joseph.  He worked in the mills and as a mason and opened a small grocery market with Italian imports.  A knack for business that passed on through our Dad and to us.

Giuseppina (or Josephine) also worked in the mills. She was a great cook and baker who loved to sing while she cooked. And she pampered her baby.

They had four children: Silverio (known as Sammy), Mamie, Josie and their baby Alfio or Freddy as he came to be known.

Fred was born at home at 182 Garden Street in Lawrence on either May 3, May 4 or May 5. (He always said the records were not so accurate so he split the difference).

He was predeceased by his brother Sammy who was Killed In Action in Italy during WWII, his sister Mamie Matthews of North Andover and Josie DiPari of Methuen.

Fred was raised on Garden Street, attended Holy Rosary School and graduated from Lawrence High – he was very proud of that.  He saved a classmate from drowning once in one of the fountains on Lawrence Common – a legacy in itself. He was an altar boy at Holy Rosary Church (but that didn’t make him a saint – just ask our mom).

We are also here today because a co-worker friend of my mom who was the wife of one of his band mates set them up on a date.   As our mom tells it, he drove up in a new car, had one of his fancy suits on and his drums in the backseat.  I don’t know how long they courted but eventually, he popped the question with this romantic line:  Let’s go get a blood test.  (I told you he was not a man of many words).

For most of his life he lived in Methuen – The Valley as we called it –  where he raised a family that included me, my older brother, Joe, and our mom Olga (and let’s not forget his beloved cat Baby). Like Archie Bunker, he had his favorite chair that he watched TV from. He retired to York Beach, Maine and returned to Amesbury several years ago to be closer to his family — and, unfortunately, his doctors.

He was never afraid of hard work.  He held many different jobs.

At one time he worked for Eastern Airlines and Pan Am Airlines in New York City and often flew to Florida and pre-Castro Cuba – the Las Vegas of its day so we’ll leave it at that.

He even got appointed to Deputy Sheriff of Essex County. While it never turned out to be a paying gig, he looked good in uniform and when he marched in parades.

For most of his life he worked as a finish presser in the textile mills of Lawrence showing the pride of craftsmanship when he would point out a coat in a store with a London Fog label. After many years of trying, he finally got a job as a material handler at Raytheon that he retired from after several years.

He was best known for his lifelong passion as a musician or as one EMT wrote in a report “a retired physician” – which I guess is true — he was doctor of the snare drum.  For more than 20 years he played with The Five Knights and then the Sears Brothers.  He played at Canobie Lake and Nurembega Park when dance halls were filled with Big Band music. He would tell us stories of when he would take the train to do gigs in Maine or drive to Salisbury Beach when gas cost a nickel. He also marched with the Italian Colonial Band which accompanied the saints paraded through the streets of Boston and other North Shore towns during the Italian festivals on summer weekends. And I remember marching with him.

He was very proud to be a 4th Degree member of the Methuen Knights of Columbus and was briefly a member of the Lawrence post of the Sons of Italy.

He was a generous man but not one of deep thoughts or many words.  While I never recall him reading a book, he was street smart but he wanted us to go to college. He was devoted to his sons –  Joe and me – and then his grandsons (Joseph and Stephen — as you can tell we don’t like variety in names in our family). He was willing to support each of us in any endeavor.

He was just always there. You bring him an idea and he was there to support it.  It wasn’t about money – there often wasn’t any – but he was there.

He brought me to Little League. For a man who didn’t read, he brought me to libraries. He was so often at my high school band functions that he was recruited along with three other dads to help carry the equipment needed for our field shows.  For this he and the dads became “The Box Crew” and all were awarded T-shirts.

For anyone who remembers the 1992 campaign for state rep here in Methuen, you may recall seeing Fred sitting in a lawn chair holding a sign in one hand and a Dunkin Donuts coffee in the other at the entrance to the on-ramp of 495 South on Merrimack Street. Every day he was there.  (I think I at least got the Dunkin Donuts vote).

He would drive us anywhere and be there during practices or school functions no matter when or what the time.

Before there was GPS, there was Fred.  He would drive anywhere.  Once when I won an essay writing contest, I had to go to Milton Academy.  Where the heck was Milton?  He found it.

Once we visited my mom’s brother, our Uncle Peter, in Harrisburg, PA.  He found it.

In fact, our dad was always in and out of the house so much, our mom would call him “popcorn.” He would pop in and then pop out.  Always busy going here and there (maybe our Spencer inherited that).   Going to the Methuen Mall – when there was one here – to “walk” which really meant to sit on the benches and drink coffee and shoot the breeze with the guys. Or visiting his mom – who he was devoted to.

My fondest memories:  Sundays coming home from church and getting fresh-baked bread from Tripoli’s; walking down Common Street during the Feast of the Three Saints; the time the roof leaked and all four of us camped out in our living room to stay warm.

Fred’s Dreams:

Fred had dreams like we all do.

It was a lifelong dream of his to build a home in The Valley on “The Farm” – every Italian family needed to have one – that he inherited from his dad.  That dream came true not for him directly but when my brother Joe built his house there and we often had our family holiday meals there.

I remember that he was always quick to buy the latest gadgets – an electric knife he used for Thanksgiving dinner; cameras; cars; TVs; you name it.  Another trait that was passed on to Joe and me – but more my brother than me.

Let’s not forget about the time he bought the barber clipper set when I was about 3 and Joe was about 11. He did such a sheep- shearing on us that I cried but my mother said “but Joey has to go to school this way.” My poor brother looked like he was attacked by a raccoon. (Needless to say, his idea of becoming a barber or saving money on haircuts didn’t last long).

I remember it was his dream to own a summer-house on Canobie Lake.  While that didn’t happen, he did get a chance to live near the beach in York, Maine in retirement.

I remember it was his dream to own his own business.  In fact he even worked at his uncle’s bar in Lawrence and tried to buy it.  While that too didn’t happen, he helped his sons with their dreams: whether it was selling hot dogs at parades or developing photos in the basement.

There were many times that I recall he would drive down from Methuen to my office in Woburn (on one of his popcorn runs) to gladly fold and stuff envelopes for my business.

He would gladly do you a favor and lend a hand but if you crossed him or tried to make him out to be a fool he would show you what it means to be a Taurus. Pity the poor car salesman who tried to separate him from his money.

We are all saddened by his passing. Over the past three years he has been in decline and while in good spirits he grudgingly accepted the medications and procedures that he received.

As Fred would say “Freddy Stan for Short but Not for Long.”   But he stayed a long time:

He survived to see his sons graduate from college, a grandson from law school and his other son (me) miraculously get married.  He lit up when he saw Kristin enter a room – he was always a bit of a sucker for a pretty girl. He got to see the Red Sox win the World Series (though his favorite team was the Braves because they once were from Boston). He enjoyed our precocious 21-month old toddler Spencer.  And he was an avid card player – the Lawrence game of 45s being a favorite (and he always had a knack for drawing the Ace of Hearts).

In many ways life was rough but Fred was lucky and we are lucky to have known him.

While Fred is dead, his legacy lives on – in us.

The beat goes on.

Good-bye for now, Padre.

####

Remembrance of a Father Loved and a Life Lived

Live_A_Life_That_Matters

Thanks to Sondra Adelman, Brookline, MA who forwarded this.

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Dad with Spencer at His Grammy's B-Day 2010

Dad with Spencer at His Grammy's B-Day 2010

On May 4, Fred Stanganelli, former wedding band drummer and Raytheon retiree, celebrated the 47th anniversary of his 39th birthday at home after a recent dialysis treatment.

We celebrated Father’s Day in the emergency room of Ana Jacques Hospital in Newburyport before driving up the road to Portsmouth.

At 4:11 PM on Thursday, June 23, shortly after receiving Last Rites, my father passed away at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Fred was born as Alfio Stanganelli at home at 182 Garden Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts on either May 3, May 4 or May 5 (the records were not so accurate so he split the difference). He was the fourth child and second son of Giuseppe Stanganelli, formerly of Palermo, Sicily, and Giusippina (Josephine Coco) Stanganelli, formerly of Siracusa, Sicily.

He was predeceased by his brother Silverio (Sammy) Stanganelli who was Killed In Action in Italy during WWII, his sister Mamie Matthews of North Andover and Josie DiPari of Methuen.

Fred was raised on Garden Street in Lawrence, attended Holy Rosary Elementary School and graduated from Lawrence High School.  He was an altar boy at Holy Rosary Church.

For most of his life he lived in Methuen where he raised a family that included me, my older brother, Joe, and our mom Olga (and let’s not forget his beloved cat Baby). He retired to York Beach, Maine and returned to Amesbury, Massachusetts several years ago to be closer to his family — and his doctors.

Fred retired from Raytheon after several years of service. At one time he worked for Eastern and Pan Am Airlines in New York City and often flew to Florida and pre-Castro Cuba.

He was best known for his lifelong passion as a musician.  As he would say “he was the best drummer in the country … but he didn’t know about the city.” For more than 20 years he played with The Five Knights and then the Sears Brothers.  He also marched with the Italian Colonial Band which accompanied the saints paraded through the streets of Boston and other North Shore towns during the Italian festivals on summer weekends.

He was a 4th Degree member of the Methuen Knights of Columbus and was briefly a member of the Lawrence post of the Sons of Italy.

He was a generous man but not one of deep thoughts or many words.  He was devoted to his sons and then his grandsons willing to support them in any endeavor.  He would drive us anywhere and be there during practices or school functions. There were many times that I recall he would gladly fold and stuff envelopes for my political campaign and my businesses. He would gladly do you a favor and lend a hand but if you crossed him or tried to make him out to be a fool he would show you what it means to be a Taurus.

Kristin reminded me that my dad’s passing was on her Uncle Dougie McCowan’s birthday.  Hopefully, they can both share a cup of Dunkin together. (Since my dad was not a golfer, he’ll probably sit in the golf cart).

Fred had a quirky sense of humor which I inherited. So, as Fred would probably say “he’ll never do that again.”

Others may relate to his other one-liner as you read this:  I didn’t even know he was sick.

We are all saddened by his passing. Home is where the heart is. So he was ‘home’ surrounded by the love of family and friends. Over the past three years he has been in decline and while in good spirits he grudgingly accepted the medications and procedures that he received.

But he survived to see his sons graduate from college, a grandson from law school and his other son (me) miraculously get married.  He enjoyed our precocious 21-month old toddler Spencer.  And he was an avid card player – the Lawrence game of 45s being a favorite (and he always had a knack for drawing the Ace of Hearts).

He is survived by his wife and companion of 55 years, Olga (Petrosino) Stanganelli of Amesbury.  He leaves behind his sons Joseph S. Stanganelli and daughter-in-law Donna (Breen) Stanganelli of Naples, Florida;  Steven J. Stanganelli and his wife Kristin (McCowan) Stanganelli of Amesbury, Massachusetts.

Along with many nieces and nephews and special friends throughout the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, he also leaves behind three grandchildren and one expected in September: Joseph S. Stanganelli, Jr of Malden, Massachusetts; Stephen A. Stanganelli of Naples, Florida and Spencer J. Stanganelli of Amesbury (and one to be named later).

Arrangements

The family will be receiving friends on Sunday, June 26 from 4:30 PM until 7 PM at the Cataudella Funeral Home (www.CataudellaFH.com), 126 Pleasant Valley Street, Methuen, MA.  The funeral mass will be celebrated Monday, June 27 at 10 AM at St. Lucy’s Church, 254 Merrimack Street, Methuen.

Interment will follow in the Immaculate Conception Cemetery where his parents now rest.

Donations may be made in Fred’s memory to either the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 1132, Fairfax, VA  22038 or to the American Kidney Fund, 6110 Executive Blvd., Rockville, MD  20842.

Final Thoughts

He is with God and his former band mates who probably needed a drummer finally to help them keep the beat.

The beat goes on.

Fred the Drummer with Future Drummer Spencer

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We certainly don’t need another case to justify the mistrust that consumers have of all things financial.  There’s been no shortage of scams, lawsuits and perp walks over the past couple of years.

Here is a recent example of a slew of cases involving broker-dealers selling either private placements or other illiquid securities that have ended up burning investors.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Advisor magazine earlier this week (June 1), an independent brokerage firm with representatives across the country, has been accused of misleading elderly and unsophisticated investors without proper consideration of whether the investments were suitable.

The article reports that the brokerage firm sold billions of dollars of non-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) to individuals since 1992 and pocketed more than $600 million in fees. Sales of these investments generated more than 60% of the firm’s total revenues.

Now there is nothing wrong with a REIT per se. They are great ways to buy into a diversified portfolio of real estate. And there’s nothing wrong with illiquid investments either.  They serve a purpose and have a place in a portfolio assuming that it makes sense for the individual.

The problem comes from the way these investments are sold by some in the industry who do not have the best interests of the client at heart. When there is a profit motive involved, there is the potential for misbehavior arising from this basic conflict of interest.

Brokerage firms are held to a certain standard called “suitability” which is a sort of legal test to see if a particular investment makes sense for an investor.  Presumably, a broker working for a brokerage firm will ask a range of questions about the investor’s income, other assets, investment goals and time frame.  Then a brokerage firm’s compliance department will review the information and the application for the investment before the purchase.

Red flags would be if an investor has a large chunk of money to be tied up in any one type of investment or asset class.  Another might be if the investor indicates that they need the cash for some specific goal on a certain date but the investment is tied up longer than that and thus subject to an early redemption penalty.

Apparently in this case, the brokerage firm did not even do this type of “due diligence” on the investors buying into the REIT.  For many who were not knowledgeable of things like asset allocation or reading complex investment documents, they allegedly simply relied on marketing materials provided by the brokerage firm.

In previous cases, we have seen how there has been an incentive by brokerage firms to not complete any significant due diligence on an investment product that is sold by their representatives. Investors who think that they are protected by a firm’s “compliance department” have often found that no one was really checking on the investments being offered.  And like the fox guarding the hen-house, there is the potential for hanky-panky.

And the one who pays is the investor.  In many cases, the brokerage firm gets paid twice:  A 1 to 2% “due diligence” fee paid by the investment’s sponsor and then from the 5% to 10% commission paid by the investor. And in some cases the brokerage only pocketed the fee instead of hiring the team of due diligence analysts.

There is a battle going on in the financial industry especially since the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation reform bill.  While not the greatest, it did offer change.  And one key change was to implement a universal “fiduciary” standard on those working with clients.

Right now, stand-alone registered investment advisers (RIAs) and specifically fee-only financial planner and advisers already subscribe to a “fiduciary” standard.  The standard is a higher legal duty to do what is “best” and “right” for the client and not what is the highest profit option for the adviser’s firm.

In the recent David Lerner Associates case as well as many others, the inherent conflict of interest between profit for the firm and the products sold to the consumer is glaring.

In all likelihood, consumers searching for higher yields heard the sales pitches from brokers.  And remember that when it comes to investing, the motivations are either fear or greed. In this case, the “greed” of the consumers looking for higher rates of return met the “greed” of the brokers looking to sell the product.  It should be no surprise that supply met demand.

But it also clearly shows how the most vulnerable need special help.  While they may go to a broker or agent thinking that the nice guy is going to do what’s right by them, they end up paying a price because they don’t realize who is representing them in the transaction.

As investors search for yield they need to do more due diligence.  And they should not be afraid to be working with a fiduciary who can help them with a second opinion.

Brokers are not all bad.  They serve a valuable role in our financial system.  But consumers really need to know that not all financial professionals are alike and the help of a fiduciary may keep them from getting burned by their fear or their greed.

Now’s as good a time as any to once again get back to basics:  Protect yourself from scams with this guide from the CFP Board of Standards.

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I know that it’s been a while.  And for those who have been dropping by, I appreciate your continued support. Hopefully, others will find their way back and find the fresh perspective enlightening.  In a world of confusion, my mission continues to be to bring to light fresh ideas on how to plan better and wiser for college funding, divorce, retirement and investing.

As I noted in my last post, I became a registered tax preparer and member of the National Association of Tax Professionals.  Through my company Clear View Wealth Advisors, I had acquired the assets and client base of XtraRefunds, an income tax preparation service located in South Lawrence, Massachusetts.

I Survived

My last post was titled “adventures of a tax preparer” and I had hoped to provide some ongoing commentary on how things were going.

Unfortunately, getting the business relocated to new offices, organizing the IT and systems, learning the software and providing tax prep services to walk-in clients took up most of my time leaving me with very little brain power to provide any commentary here.

This has truly been a learning experience.  And I truly believe that it provides me with added tools and perspective to be a better financial adviser to individuals and business owners.

Bringing Financial Planning Services to the Masses

One thing that I had learned as a banker (I was a mortgage banker for more than 18 years you may recall) is the truism of the expression that a bank will gladly lend you money when you don’t really need it.

The same holds true for financial planning.  As a former representative of a wirehouse broker-dealer, I found that everyone wanted to give advice to the very rich and those who are well-off. But more often than not those who had less than some minimum amount of money were shunned and pretty much told “come back when you have more.”

That’s why I formed my financial planning practice as an independent registered investment adviser firm.  People need help at all stages and should not be left out in the cold just because their bank balances don’t have enough zeroes.

This is what I noted on my website and what I truly believe.

So I saw the integration of a tax preparation service as a way to help individuals by being there to offer financial planning tips and services.

Still Working Through the Growing Pains

Time will tell if my ideas in action make sense.

But from the stories that I heard I know that people of all income and education levels can benefit from having access to an objective financial professional who is not going to simply try selling them something.

Cost of Avoiding a Bad Mistake: Priceless

So I created financial plan program options for folks to use like the Advisor-On-Call program: pay one fee for the entire year and get access to me to answer any question on any issue during the year.

I know the need is there. Someone came in to see me and told me about her sister who lost everything when her apartment in Worcester burned down.  She didn’t have any renter’s insurance.  This was  a learning experience and I was able to teach the client why she needed the same type of coverage for herself.

Back in the Saddle

Now that tax season is over and the calendar has turned to spring (despite the weather I see outside my window), I am back on the bike saddle as well.   It’s usually on these long rides I do solo or with my cycling club that I get to clear my head and come up with new topics to write about here in the blog or in my newsletter.

Some of the wisdom that I expect to share with you over the coming weeks:

  • How to build a better retirement income plan using the bucket strategy
  • How to save on the cost of college even if your kid is a senior in high school
  • How to lower the cost of divorce in the long-run by selling the family home
  • How to get better yield outside of a bank money market

Thanks for stopping by and please keep on checking in.

And as always, your comments are greatly appreciated as are any questions or issues or story ideas that you want me to address.

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It’s hard to tell if anyone actually missed my posts.  Trying to come up with fresh and interesting perspectives on topics can be a time-consuming and thankless task.  But I’ve tried to maintain my discipline.

But for those of you who have been reading my missives, you’ve probably noticed that there has been a pretty big gap (about four weeks) since my last post. My apologies.

Well, since my last post there have been a whole lot of changes happening in the world at large and in mine in particular.

We’ve seen several revolutions culminating in changes in the Arab world. The spark of democracy has turned into a bit of a wildfire.  And all of this has had an impact on global trade and markets.  And as much as I have wanted to comment and make my views known, it’s been next to impossible because of the all-consuming changes occurring with Clear View Wealth Advisors and Team Stang.

On January 20, Clear View Wealth Advisors entered into an agreement that acquired the assets of an established income tax preparation business with a principal office located in South Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Getting the business relocated, systems up and running and dealing with my favorite friends from Verizon has pretty much taken up all my time.

Adding tax preparation to the line up of services may sound good in theory.  Now we’ll see how well it works in reality.

It will make for some interesting commentary as I go through the growing pains.

And speaking of growing pains, Team Stang has officially announced that we are adding a new member with an expected due date of September 1, 2011.

Stay tuned.

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They say white-collar crimes tend to increase in times of economic stress.  This is one of those times.  And it’s all the more important to be watchful.

For most of us, our personal identities extend beyond just our name.  In many ways we are also our online profiles and our credit, too.

Identity Theft: A Growing Problem and Cost to All of Us

Right now, there are scammers out there trying to steal not just what you own but trying to steal you.  Identity theft is a real problem and a drag on our economy. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated in 2006 that more than 3.6 million households affecting over 9 million people were victims of identity theft. One study noted that the cost to consumers was nearly $57 billion dollars (that’s with a ‘B,” folks) in 2005.

And according to the Government Accounting Office (GAO-02-363, March 2002), this costs the federal government (and us taxpayers), too.  The average cost for a financial crime investigation is about $15,000 for the Secret Service, more than $11,000 for the US Attorneys and nearly $20,000 for the FBI.

I have a client whose niece works for a regional office of the FBI who has sent out around this notice for a new twist on a “phishing” scam.

Watch Out for Folks Gone Phishin’

Phishing is where the scammer posing as a legitimate company or authority tries to get an unwary consumer to divulge valuable personal information like a Social Security number, account number or other details like a date of birth.

The Jury Duty Hoax – A Twist on An Old Scam

In this latest reported scam, the FBI has confirmed that scammers are calling and posing as “jury duty coordinators” saying that an arrest warrant has been or will be issued for failing to show up for a recent jury summons.

If you protest that you never received a notice, the “coordinator” will ask for your Social Security number, date of birth and address so that he can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant.

Most of us are sufficiently deferential (or even scared) of the court system so the scammers are relying on us to simply roll over and give them what they ask for on the phone.  In some cases, the “coordinator” uses intimidation and bullying tactics to get you to comply.

Once you give them your information the scammers have hit the jackpot.

So far this type of phishing scam and fraud has been reported in eleven states including Illinois, Ohio and Colorado.

So be wary of unsolicited calls asking you to provide your Social Security number and other personal identifying information.  No legitimate government agency or business you deal with will ever ask you to just give them your stuff.  They may ask you to verify what they have (if not ask them to read out what they have).  And if you’re ever unsure, ask for the website and a call back number so you have time to check it out independently.

So protect yourself and others you know by letting them know about this scam.

Go to the FBI website to check out details on this and other scams.

And if you ever suspect a scam, you can also check out the website for the Federal Trade Commission as well.

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