Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gus Gosselin

Gus Gosselin (1926-2007)

As I'm sure many of you have heard by now, local chess luminary Gus Gosselin passed away on May 21st at 80 years old. The following announcement was posted at the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA) website:
The MACA board of directors reports with great sadness the passing of Gilbert F. "Gus" Gosselin, who died Monday evening, May 21, at the age of 80. Gus was one of the greatest contributors to the promotion of chess, both adult and scholastic, in Massachusetts as well as in New England. At the time of his death, he was MACA's scholastic coordinator and Living Memorial Fund coordinator. In his past 35 years' involvement with MACA, Gus served in every major executive position in the organization. For the past several decades, especially during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990's, he kept chess alive in Rhode Island. A tribute to Gus will be published in the July-September issue of Chess Horizons, which will be mailed out in June. Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time, but letters and/or cards of condolences can be sent to his wife Ruth and daughter Marcia and family at 19 Glen St. #2, Malden, MA 02148 and to his son Matthew at 177B Pleasant St., Melrose, MA 02176.

George Mirijanian
President, MACA
MACA has set up a discussion thread where individuals can post their remembrances of Gus. From that thread, I'd like to share the thoughts of BCF Treasurer Bob Oresick:
In the New England chess world, if you mentioned "Gus," everyone knew who you meant. When I first started playing chess in tournaments in the early '90s, I slowly entered the Boston chess scene. And I kept hearing about Gus. Gus in MACA service. Gus and the Living Memorial. Gus and Pawneaters. In Malden. In Providence. Gus and Burger King. Gus at the Boylston club.

I was too intimidated to play at the Boylston, so many of my first tournaments were at Gus's Pawneaters. So, I thought chess tournaments were mixes of adult patzers, kids, hovering parents, and the aroma of stale beer and old, folding chairs and rickety tables we players and parents had to set up. I remember Gus watching as Gus's young helper Kent Leung marched his pawns forward suicidally and then the attacking and attacking... Gus's penumbra was always semi-chaotic, in a gentle slow way - like a manic sloth. So often the starting time was ten and Gus was carrying in stuff from the car - laptop, sets, clocks, and all the other impedimenta he brought, not unlike setting up a Roman camp.

But, Gus was so gentle and unassuming that I was made to feel comfortable and could enjoy playing chess. I think that was a common experience for many children too.

My experience with him was as an older man, getting worn down with sickness. He never complained about his illness, never seemed to make much of a hospitalization. He was always so active. I remember a year or so ago at a Rhode Island pawneater in which he was just playing, not directing, we were chatting. Somehow in the conversation Gus mentioned that he had been a running back for a local semi-pro football team. I must say I couldn't imagine that. But that just shows my poverty of imagination, and the complexity of a very modest, complex man who helped form the face of Massachusetts chess for our era.

Robert Oresick
Bob has also posted a number of pictures of Gus here.

Finally, Tiffany Wang reports on plans for a gathering in memory of Gus on Saturday, June 2nd from 4:00pm to 8:00pm at 19 Glen St. in Malden, Massachusetts.

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