A salute to two stalwarts

Peter R. Beatrice Jr. and Peter Sack were remembered in October by town residents as  passionate people who were generous with their time.

Beatrice sired a family that became a part of the town’s athletic royalty and Sack left his mark as an educator and ardent supporter of that town’s sports program.

Beatrice died this past June at 93, but his obituary wasn’t published until mid-October. Meanwhile, Sack, who was principal at Swampscott High for 20 years (1983-2003) and who spent much of that time as the public-address announcer at the Big Blue home football games, died on Oct. 10 at the age of 76.

“That’s the one thing I think defines Peter Sack,” said Frank DeFelice, who was the baseball coach at Swampscott High during Sack’s tenure as principal. “He had a passion for whatever he did, whether it was as an educator or as the public-address announcer at football games. He put his all into it.” 

The Beatrice family has been a part of the Swampscott athletic picture for three generations. Peter Jr. coached Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball, mentoring, among his players, former Channel 5 lead anchor Mike Lynch. His sons played football at the high school, with Greg starring as an defensive lineman for the 1972 team that won the inaugural state Super Bowl. 

“Peter, his son, was one of the best quarterbacks we ever had,” said Lynch, who took over the signal-calling duties after Beatrice graduated. “His record over three seasons was 27-0. You can’t get much better than that. 

“Tom went to Harvard and Johnny (to) Colombia,” Lynch said. Moreover, Peter III’s son Kyle set a state record for passing touchdowns while leading the Big Blue to the 2003 state Super Bowl.

But Lynch preferred to speak of the patriarch of the family, who, though born in East Boston, settled in Swampscott after becoming a lawyer, making his mark as a baseball coach.

“(Beatrice) was very generous with his time,” said Lynch. “He always had time for youth sports. He was one of the first to volunteer.” 

Lynch said when he played for Beatrice’s legion teams, as many players as possible used to pile into his wagon “because he was the first guy we knew who had a phone in his car.

“I also remember that after every game, win or lose, he’d take us out for ice cream afterwards. The whole team. They’d be a caravan of cars all going to the ice-cream place.”

Former Lynn Superintendent of Schools Nicholas Kostan first met Sack when he asked the Swampscott principal to discuss a new scheduling matrix he had devised.

“I was interested in it, and wanted him to show it to me,” said Kostan. “He was always for the kids. I have fond memories of him.”

Kostan and Sack eventually worked together on the scholarship committee for the Harry Agganis Foundation.

“He did a terrific job on that committee,” said Kostan. “He was always aware of the qualifications of the candidates. He was a man of great character.”

The Beatrices, said Lynch, were an indelible family in the history of Swampscott sports, much the same as his own was, as well as the Jaurons. 

“Oh, definitely,” said Lynch. “They’re a huge part of the town’s legacy.”

More than that, he said, Beatrice was generous with both his time and his money.

“I’m sure he wound up buying equipment himself,” Lynch said. “I don’t know who came up with all the equipment. Maybe he collected some from the high school, but I’m sure he dipped into his own pocket for most of it. I don’t know who paid the umpires. He probably paid out of pocket for them, too.

“All I know is the year I went to Exeter Academy, I came home looking forward to Legion ball, and it was there because of him,” Lynch said. “Whether it was manager, general manager, field manager, third base coach … he did it all. And he never wanted anything in return.”

Sack, said former football coach and athletic director Bill Bush, was a “regular guy” as well as the high school’s principal. 

“He was very firm, but very fair in what he did,” said Bush. “He loved being the PA announcer, even though some in the town, at the time, wondered why he should have that job.

“But he did a very professional job,” Bush said. “And he was fair and impartial, not like some of the homers you saw back in those days. He just announced the game as it was played.”

“(Sack) was a legend in Swampscott Public Schools,” said current Superintendent of Schools Pamela Angelakis. “I met him as a young teacher and was at first intimidated by his intelligence and dry sense of humor. I later learned that he was a warm and caring individual with a great sense of humor. 

“I had the privilege of seeing him annually until a few years ago and I always learned something new in his presence. I will treasure the memories of those times,” she said. “He will be missed.”