Loren Owens spent more than 40 years as co-host of the Loren and Wally Show on 105.7 FM. DUring this time, he called Westwood home. Our November cover feature focuses on Loren's life of purpose, from his time serving as a Marine in Vietnam, to his time in Boston as a beloved media personality.
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By Tom Leyden
Photo By: Rick Bern Photography
As a late September fog lifts in the early morning of a crisp day, Loren Owens arrives at Westwood’s Veterans Memorial Park, sharply dressed and ready for his cover shoot. Rick Bern, as always with our cover subjects, keeps Loren relaxed as he frames his photos, capturing the essence of Americana and the stoic spirit of a long-time Westwood resident, Hall-Of-Fame broadcaster and veteran of the Marine Corps.
Within the first few moments, Loren asks us, “Do you remember when the church used to be here?”
This question was a classic example of why I love publishing Westwood Living. The chance to meet new people and learn unique factoids about our community has been fascinating. Since I’ve only lived in town for eight years, I had no idea the First Baptist Church used to be at the intersection of High Street and Pond Street. In 1989, with great fanfare, the structure was moved to its current location just east of Thurston Middle School. Six years later, the Fisher School building was moved to the space adjacent to the First Baptist Church property, and that stretch of High Street as we know it today was complete.
Owens, 79-years-old and full of energy and wit, shared details of the move as we shifted positions, waited for the sun and wind to cooperate, and got to know each other a little bit. The historical knowledge oozed with ease from the lips of a skilled story-teller, engaging and educational at the same time.
For more than 40 years, Loren Owens woke up with Boston, half of the Loren & Wally morning show on 105.7 FM. While WROR was the final landing spot on the dial for a genuine, caring man whose life and career took him around the world, there were many interesting chapters along the way, from his upbringing in Terre Haute to his longtime residence in Westwood.
“The original plan was to go to medical school and I was going to join my uncle in his practice. He was a doctor in Indianapolis,” said Owens after we retreated to Bibi Bakery to finish our interview. “I got my degree, in biological sciences, but along the way, I needed a job to pay for school. So my sophomore year of college at Indiana State, I had a buddy who worked at the radio station as the record librarian, and he was about to graduate and go into teaching. He said, ‘You should go ahead and apply for my job.’ So I did.”
This step into an unfamiliar world began a journey in communications that changed the course of Loren’s life and influenced millions of people across the United States.
“I met a guy named Sheldon Fisher, and he was the boss,” said Owens. “He asked me if I knew anything about music. ‘Who wrote the 1812 Overture?’ And when I said, ‘Tchaikovsky.’ he says, ‘Wow, you do know music. You're hired.’ So I became the record librarian. One night, a guy got sick and couldn't go on the air. Someone asked if I could fill in, so I did it. I fell in love with the business and went into radio.”
Shortly after Owens graduated from Indiana State, at the height of the Vietnam conflict, he knew a military deployment was likely.
“Well, you know how it is,” he said. “Everybody registered for the Selective Service. So, when I got out of school, I kind of knew it was coming. I got my draft notice and I took a bus to Indianapolis, which is about 60 miles from Terre Haute. We got into a big room, probably about 100 guys. We had to take physicals and it was a process. When we were done, this Marine steps to the front of the room and says, ‘I’m going to need 10 of you men for the Marine Corps. We’re just going to pull your names out of a hat.’ My name was the first one to come up out of the hat.”
While this turn of events was rare and unexpected, there was an understandable and sad explanation.
“It was the time of the Tet Offensive, and the U.S. military lost a lot of people. The Marine Corps didn’t have enough people, so they just drafted some of us to be Marines instead of joining the Army. I thought I’d probably get drafted to the Army and head to Fort Campbell in Kentucky, which wasn’t that far from Terre Haute, but I ended up in San Diego at a Marine bootcamp.”
More than 50 years later, following a deployment to Vietnam, Owens remains stoic and somber when recalling that era of his life. He holds few, if any, keepsakes from that time and doesn’t dwell on the experience. Though courteous and engaged with his responses, it was made clear by this former Marine’s tone he saw and experienced enough to make an indelible impression.
“I was lucky,” he said. “We lost a lot of guys, but I was lucky. It was a time when you had to do what you had to do. I knew that I wanted to be in radio, and I knew that to be in radio, I had to live in America. I knew some people who opted to go to Canada, but the deal was - if you did that, you never knew if you'd be allowed back into the United States. I thought it was the right thing to do. I was 23.”
Read the full story in the November issue of Westwood Living
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Learn more about the people and businesses in Westwood as Tom Leyden hosts a series of one-on-one conversations.
By Dr. Yali Lou, iLove Dental Care
The transition from baby teeth to adult teeth is a significant milestone in a child's life. As a parent or caregiver, it's essential to understand how children's dental habits should change during this crucial phase of development. The shift from managing primary teeth to caring for permanent adult teeth requires attention and guidance to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Brushing and Flossing
One of the first changes in dental habits that children need to embrace is a more rigorous brushing and flossing routine. Baby teeth are more forgiving when it comes to oral hygiene lapses, but permanent teeth demand diligent care. Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste. Ensure they reach all surfaces of their teeth, including the back molars, where cavities are more likely to develop.
Flossing is equally important. Teach your child how to floss correctly to remove food particles and plaque from between their teeth. This habit helps prevent cavities and gum disease, promoting healthy adult teeth.
A child's diet plays a pivotal role in his or her dental health. With the arrival of adult teeth, it's essential to promote a balanced diet that supports oral health. As challenging as it sounds, limit sugary snacks and beverages, as these can lead to tooth decay. Encourage fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins. Calcium-rich foods are especially important to strengthen and protect growing teeth.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
As baby teeth make way for permanent ones, it's crucial to establish a routine of regular dental check-ups. Schedule dental appointments every six months, because regular visits allow the dentist to monitor your child's oral development, detect any potential issues early, and provide preventive care such as dental cleanings and fluoride treatments.
Many children may require orthodontic treatment as they transition to adult teeth. Misaligned teeth, overbites, underbites, or crowded teeth are common issues that can affect both the appearance and function of adult teeth. Consult an orthodontist if you have concerns about your child's tooth alignment. Early intervention can sometimes prevent more extensive and costly treatments later on.
Protecting Teeth During Sports
If your child is involved in sports, it's crucial to protect their adult teeth from potential injuries. Children should use a mouthguard to shield the teeth during physical activities. Custom-fit mouthguards from a dentist offer the best protection and comfort.
Educate About the Effects of Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
As children enter their teenage years, they may become more aware of social pressures, including those related to smoking and chewing tobacco. It's essential to educate them about the harmful effects of these habits on their oral and overall health. Smoking and tobacco use are associated with a higher risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Transitioning from baby teeth to adult teeth is a pivotal time in a child's dental development. By instilling good oral hygiene habits, encouraging a balanced diet, scheduling regular dental check-ups, and addressing orthodontic needs as necessary, parents and caregivers can help their children maintain healthy adult teeth and a beautiful smile. Remember, dental health is an essential part of overall well-being, and teaching children the right habits early on sets the foundation for a lifetime of positive oral health.
Dr. Lou is the owner and operator of three practices, in Westwood, Concord and Lexington. Visit the Westwood location at 541 High Street to meet the team and make an appointment. Call 781-320-0300
By Gillian MacDonald, R.N.
Senior care providers play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and comfort of our elderly friends and relatives. These professionals are responsible for assisting seniors with daily tasks, providing companionship, and often serving as a lifeline for those who may be isolated or experiencing health challenges. However, in some cases, a senior patient may find themselves no longer liking or getting along with their care provider. This can be a challenging situation, but it's essential to address it with care and consideration for both the senior and the caregiver. So, what are the best steps?
The first step in resolving any issue with a senior care provider is open and honest communication. Encourage the senior patient to express their feelings and concerns about the caregiver. Listen attentively and empathetically to understand their perspective. Some seniors may simply need a safe space to vent their frustrations, while others may have valid concerns that need addressing.
Identify the Root Cause
Try to identify the underlying reasons for the senior patient's discomfort with the care provider. It could be due to personality clashes, differences in communication styles, or misunderstandings. By pinpointing the root cause, you can better address the issue.
If the issues between the senior patient and the caregiver persist, consider involving a neutral third party, such as a family member or a supervisor from the senior care agency. A mediator can help facilitate a conversation between the two parties, offering an objective perspective and helping to find common ground.
Assess Caregiver's Qualifications
Evaluate whether the caregiver's qualifications match the senior's specific needs. Sometimes, a caregiver may be well-trained but not the right fit for a particular individual. In such cases, it might be necessary to explore alternative caregivers who can better meet the senior's needs and preferences.
Request a Care Plan Adjustment
Work with the senior care agency to request adjustments to the care plan. Sometimes, changing the schedule or responsibilities of the caregiver can improve the situation. For example, if the senior patient dislikes a caregiver's cooking, it may be possible to adjust the meal planning.
Encourage Patience and Flexibility
Both the senior patient and the caregiver should be encouraged to exercise patience and flexibility. Building rapport and trust can take time, and sometimes initial discomfort can evolve into a positive relationship over time.
Monitor and Reevaluate
After taking steps to address the issue, monitor the situation closely. Continuously check in with the senior patient to assess their comfort and satisfaction with the caregiver. If problems persist or escalate, be prepared to reevaluate the situation and consider other options.
Seek Alternative Care Providers
In some cases, despite efforts to resolve the issue, it may become clear that the senior patient and the caregiver are not a compatible match. In such instances, you will have to explore alternative care providers who can better meet the senior's needs and preferences.
When a senior care provider is no longer liked by the senior patient, it's essential to address the issue with sensitivity and compassion. Open communication, mediation, and a willingness to make necessary adjustments are key strategies for resolving such conflicts. The primary goal is to ensure the senior's well-being and comfort while providing the best possible care. By following these steps and considering the individual needs and preferences of the senior patient, it is possible to find a solution that benefits everyone involved in the caregiving relationship.
Gillian MacDonald is a registered nurse and owner of Premier Health Care.
By Tom Leyden
It is perhaps the most unheralded, yet vital positions in sports – the long snapper. Before every kick in a football game, the long snapper handles the ball, his assignment straightforward and simple: Deliver the ball with speed and accuracy to the holder or punter…every time. Succeed, and no one ever knows your name. Fail, and no one ever forgets. That’s the job.
Joseph Vinci is one of the rare athletes to embrace and master the art of long snapping. His achievements on the field and in the classroom have earned him a full scholarship to play football at Notre Dame, and he made the commitment official this fall. A current Wolverine will soon be a member of the Fighting Irish.
“I would say the time when I first noticed I was pretty good at it was around the summer leading up to my junior year,” said Vinci. “I went to one of the long snapping ranking camps. We actually reached out to the guy and said, ‘Hey, is there any chance I could go participate in the camp?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, of course,’ so that’s what really got the ball rolling.”
Vinci left that camp ranked #13 in the country as a long snapper and it was at that point he figured going to college to snap could be a real possibility. Whether that was Division I, FBS, FCS, he wasn’t sure.
“It’s kind of surreal how it's gotten to the point where I'm at right now,” he said.
The process has been eye-opening and a true testament to how many coaches and recruiters keep their eyes on social media.
“I tweeted I was going on a visit to Notre Dame, and before you know it, I got a text from a guy at the University of North Carolina asking if I was at the school, and he wanted to talk to me. BC had shown up the day I wasn’t there, then I think Ohio State showed up. They showed up twice, actually. Penn State also showed up. I was like, DANG, word passes around really well. I posted that on Twitter, and I think within 15-20 minutes, I had a message from a coach at Purdue and then UNC. I thought it was a little crazy.”
“All the coaches and players are very excited for Joseph,” said Brad Pindel, Westwood’s head football coach. “This is a great opportunity for him and we will all be cheering for him over the next four years. I've known Joseph since he was little. He's grown up to be a tremendous leader, who cares greatly for each of his teammates and has a relentless work ethic. From academics to athletics, Joseph's determination has gotten him to where he is today. We all look forward to the next chapter of his life.”
Vinci was led down the long-snapping route by people who can identify and cultivate talent. Longtime coaches Bill and Kevin Crabtree worked extensively with Joe.
“If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have never picked it up and worked with it as much as I have. Also, Coach Pindel and Coach Milligan – so helpful. They’ve really made this high school experience fun. And obviously my parents, who helped me through this process. It’s not as easy as it seems, at points.”
From here, the path gets even more interesting. Joe will graduate from Westwood High School in a special ceremony this December, then head to South Bend, where he will enroll in January and start taking classes while working with the football team in spring drills.
“In all honesty, it's been a dream school of mine from the start,” said Vinci. “Even looking beyond sports. The school itself is just absolutely magnificent. It’s beautiful. The academics are best in the country, and I think what they have there for coaches is exactly what I'm looking for. They’re very unique in the fact that they have two coaches who are committed to special teams and special teams only. Coach Marty Biagi and Coach Jessie Schmitt are strictly special teams, which was huge for me.”
Good luck to Joseph as he continues the pursuit of a dream, and we mean this is the nicest way possible – may nobody ever know your name! Congratulations.
Thanks to our partners at Islington Pizza for presenting Joseph with a gift card to celebrate his accomplishments with friends and family.
If you want to nominate someone to be a future Dental Arts of Westwood Athlete of the Month, email Diana Bezdedeanu at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tom Leyden
From a briki on the stovetop across a beautifully designed Westwood kitchen comes the scent of deliciousness - Greek coffee that will serve as the centerpiece of this conversation. In Greece, coffee is brewed strong and meant to be enjoyed in a demitasse cup over an extended period as friends and family chat, catching up on life and exploring new ideas.
Fittingly, that’s what we’re doing on this sunny Friday, a lovely fall morning at the home of Roula Bakis, the owner of Artemis Realty & Design and Westwood Living Expert Contributor.
“I really enjoy being able to reach so many people and educate them,” said Roula as she sipped the piping hot sweet brew. “I do feel like I have a lot of knowledge to offer on various aspects of the real estate and design world. It's just a great avenue to reach people.”
It was that unique combination of knowledge, plus Roula’s commitment and dedication to Westwood, that made her a perfect candidate to join the Westwood Living family. Providing useful information to neighbors ultimately adds value to their lives, and properties, and helps enhance both the perception and reality of Westwood’s prestige and status in the larger Metrowest community.
“In the 24 years that I've been here, this is probably the closest I've come to home,” said Roula, who was born in North Carolina and graduated from North Carolina State before embarking on her professional career. “I call myself a hybrid model now because I feel half northern, half southern. And I try to bring the best of both worlds together.”
That hybrid mindset is what makes Artemis Realty & Design work. In a very competitive real estate market, finding the perfect spot is very rare. When a family has someone like Roula on their team, together they are able to envision an alternative, utilizing the same space and customizing that space to fulfill their needs. This takes experience and a keen eye for re-design paired with expertise in the local real estate market.
“My degree is in environmental design,” she said. “So basically, when we were taught design, we were taught to think about two-dimensional design in a three-dimensional space. It’s a little bit different from traditional, just flat 2D design. I think that honed my skill as far as understanding the flow of spaces and how people interact with them. I have a minor in psychology, so a lot of that also weaved together. You can walk a family through a house and when they say, ‘I really need a four bedroom, but I'm only finding threes. Where can I put it?’ Well, we stand in the space, we walk through and think about an alternative. ‘Here’s your kitchen. This is where everybody's going to gather. But, you know, over here on the right, this would be a perfect spot!’”
At that point, because of her building and design background, Roula is fluent in construction rules and regulations and understands, in the moment, what’s truly possible. That flexibility and added intelligence broadens the inventory of what’s available to her clients.
With strong Greek roots, the use of Artemis in her company’s name was a meaningful choice for Roula.
“Artemis is the Goddess of the hunt and the protectress of the forest,” she said. “Aside from it being part of Greek mythology, I grew up in the south and my father is a big hunter. I grew up shooting guns, bows and arrows, the whole thing. So, Artemis reminds me of my father. It’s a personal tie to my family, a connection. Whenever I see it, I'm reminded of my family, of my heritage and it ties it all together. Being a strong female figure, as well, doesn't hurt.”
If you are embarking on the search for a new home, with a potential major renovation, or perhaps including a teardown and new construction, Roula has extensive, personal experience in that area. It’s exactly what she did with her own property.
"I knew what I wanted, having lived in various homes and what I liked and what I didn't like,” she said. “It starts from the inside of the home. I feel like architects sometimes have a tendency to think more about the exterior of the house and then work their way in. What I like to do is sit down with people and work out the floor plan. How do you want your house to function? That was the most fun here because I knew how I wanted my house to function. Then, once I had the floor plans, I gave them to an architect and I said, ‘Okay, I want you to wrap this and I want it to have this kind of feel to it,’ and they were able to do that for me, so this is the outcome from that process.”
Attracted to Boston, initially, because she loved the look and feel of the row houses on Commonwealth Avenue, Roula met her husband, Peter, and ultimately settled on Westwood as their landing spot. Their three sons, Athos, Parris and Thanos, are all enrolled in the Westwood school system. When you’ve called somewhere, ‘Home’ for nearly a quarter century, it’s easier to envision what can possibly make it better.
“I'd love for there to be a central meeting place for our youth,” said Roula. “I know there are many buildings turning over right now, and I would love to see the community come together and create a space like that. Right now, the kids all kind of go to Alltown and to the library, which is fine, but I would love there to be a central place where the community can meet and congregate.”
When not consulting, networking, designing, buying or selling, Roula is active in town, on the Board of Directors for the Westwood Community Chest and instrumental each year in the success of the annual WCC Gala of Giving fundraiser. Simply put, she is dedicated to her neighbors and keeping all of us informed on the latest trends in realty and design.
Listen to my full conversation with Roula on the Westwood Living Podcast Network, available on SoundCloud, Spotify, Amazon, Buzzsprout, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.
By Meaghan McNutt, Westwood High School Class of 2024
During the last couple of years, I’ve worked with children of all ages at summer camps and after-school programs. On one occasion, I was playing make-believe with some first graders. I don’t remember what scenario we were pretending to be in, but I do recall there being unicorn fairy princesses and dinosaur ninjas involved. I think Spider-Man was there too. A little bit into the game, one of them says to me, “Let’s pretend you don’t know everything, even though you’re a teenager.”
Well, I was indeed a teenager; a teenager who attends high school, drives around town, and reportedly knows everything. As much as I’d like to believe it, I am doubtful that it is true. How come the kids thought I did? I tried explaining to them what a teenager really is, but the only thing I could think of was doing homework. Kids don’t want to hear about homework. Since that day, I’ve questioned the true image of myself and my peers. What makes us teenagers special? How are we important to society?
Hollywood has some idea of what a teenager is. Although, it is crucial for me to acknowledge they have made some incorrect assumptions. While I wasn’t alive in the 1950s, I’ve gathered that teenagers didn’t routinely change into elaborate costumes and burst into song like the characters in Grease did. And as cool as it may seem, I’ve never heard of anyone riding on a parade float while ditching school like Ferris did in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. On the other hand, movies like Mean Girls, while they are a bit over dramatic for entertainment purposes, illustrate the challenges of being a teenager: it’s incredibly difficult to stay true to your own identity while simultaneously trying to fit in with others. Popular teen shows like Dawson’s Creek demonstrate how being at the bridge between childhood and adulthood is tough: seeing the people you played with on the playground change for the better or the worse can be alarming.
Change will always be present in an individual’s life, but when you’re a teenager, it sometimes seems like you can feel the earth rotating on its axis. Everything is changing by the second, we wonder if we can keep up.
However, being lost or stuck in a maze of insurmountable change does not define a teenager. Teenagers have incredible powers, like managing to get to class on time after waiting in line at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for the entirety of their lunch break. They can complete a packet of calculus problems in addition to a formal analysis of The Great Gatsby in about a night or so. But above anything else, teenagers have the gift to persevere through one of the most challenging times in their life. Trying to complete work for six different classes, commit to extracurriculars, and spend time with family and friends can be a lot to juggle. Throw in college applications during senior year, and getting everything done seems physically impossible. But somehow, teenagers come out of high school intact. They go through times when it seems much easier to just give up, but they don’t. Even when we feel stuck in the nostalgia of childhood and the unpredictability of adulthood, we think of our younger selves, who would be starstruck by the person we became.
I am unable to describe with words the joy that I feel knowing the kids that I work with look up to me. They’re admiration has allowed me to feel truly remarkable during a messy time in my life. I may not be a unicorn fairy princess or a dinosaur ninja, but to some of those kids, I’m the coolest person in the world. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m taking time to remind myself of how grateful I am to be where I am, and who I am.
I’m a teenager who attends Westwood High School. Everyday, I am surrounded by a close-knit community of diverse classmates and exceptional teachers, who see the uniqueness and potential of every individual student. Being a teenager in Westwood is special, but it is even more amazing to be a part of a community where the teenage voice and presence matters. This is the beauty of “Wolverines View,” a place where the voices of tomorrow have the chance to shine.
Dr. Peter Kevorkian from Westwood Family Chiropractic.
By Tom Leyden
What started as a fleeting mention in a conversation with Asanka Moehring last spring evolved and blossomed into a wonderful kickoff to what hopefully will become a sustainable, impactful development program for Westwood students. The Lessons From Leader Series, presented by Dedham Savings, united an incredible team of professionals, each dedicating time and energy to share their expertise and experiences with students who were interested in learning more about their specific fields.
The feedback from those who attended the series of three in-person events was remarkable, with many reporting back to their parents and teachers how beneficial the experience was to their development - not only from an information standpoint, but also in how it helped them learn how to network in a low-stakes environment.
Each night, students were treated to a keynote address from a local professional. Dr. Peter Kevorkian from Westwood Family Chiropractic, Ariel Dangelo from Nightingale Wealth Solutions and Mike DiSarro from Neroli Mercato & Ristorante each spoke to the assembled students and professionals, offering unique and tangible advice to our future leaders.
After the addresses each night, students were free to visit with whichever professionals interested them, asking questions about their professions and the paths they followed to get to where they are. The interaction was organic and inspiring, both adults and students benefiting from the one-on-one communication.
Our efforts don't end here. We have created a unique Digital Directory Page for each participating professional at lfleaders.com. Students can search the directory and find more useful information and advice pertaining to careers that may interest them.
We offer sincere thanks to Amy Davenport, Aishleen Marcus and Caroline Higgins at Westwood High School, along with the professionals who made the launch of this initiative so successful. We look forward to improving and building the program moving forward and further serving the community in a powerful way. Please consider supporting and joining us.
By Jay Resha
WESTWOOD – Welcome to November, folks! 2024 has sure gone by quickly, and the Holiday season is on the horizon already! This year has brought us the Paris Olympics, a new President, and so much more.
Let’s do a recap of the year now, while it is all still fresh in our minds (“fresh in our minds” in this context means “How am I supposed to remember news when I have to get my Powerball tickets and finish stringing up sixteen thousand tiny lights before the in-laws arrive?!”)
Without further ado, let’s bullet-point our way through the year – from our town, our five-state New England region, our country and the rest of the world!
Westwood Living? No…thank YOU for living in Westwood.
See you next month, and I look forward to hearing from you any time at email@example.com