Joseph Massik ’46 grew up in Dorchester, MA, and spent two years at public high school before attending Holderness. He described himself as a “problem child who would not amount to anything,” until Headmaster Edric Weld decided to take a chance on him.
He was one of only two Jewish boys in the school at the time and admitted to feeling isolated, but not because of his faith. Instead, he felt apart from most other students because of the physical, outdoor culture of the school; Joe considered himself to be an introvert and more intellectual. However, despite that distance, he would go on to serve as class president and become one the school’s most faithful donors.
After attending Drake University, Joe worked as an assistant editor at a weekly community newspaper before writing advertising copy in Washington, DC. He then became the assistant editor and then editor of the New England edition of TV Guide Magazine.
Joe later became a real estate developer and bought and renovated small apartment buildings in Boston. He went to the University Club frequently to swim and also enjoyed spending summers in a small condo near the beach on Nantucket. He once hosted a party at his home on Nantucket for the University Club's triathlon team.
Joe supported a number of organizations in the Boston area, including the Esplanade Association, the Charles River Conservancy, Vilna Shul (Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture), the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance, the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, and the Nichols House Museum. Joe was also a loyal Holderness supporter, making his first gift in 1955 and contributing his final Holderness Fund gift just two weeks before his passing.
Joe died on June 27, 2017, at the age of 89. He was unmarried at the time of his death and had no children, so he chose to leave his estate to a number of esteemed charitable institutions--of which Holderness was one--as well as several nieces and nephews. While his largest gift to Holderness during his lifetime was $500, the school will receive close to $3 million thanks to his incredible generosity and foresight.
Through his bequest, Joe realized one of Holderness School’s core values--putting the needs of others before one’s own. He also personified our belief that leadership comes in many forms, not just through words and actions, but also through humility and serving the larger community. Joe’s bequest will help fund the construction of the new academic building, which will serve generations of Holderness students, some of whom will excel, just like Joe did, if only given a chance. We cannot think of a more fitting tribute.
Albert Bierstadt, the German-American painter renowned for his landscapes of the American West, came to the White Mountains to capture its simple yet overwhelming beauty. What came to life through nearly a decade’s worth of work was The Emerald Pool, a massive oil-on-canvas monument to the natural majesty of a hidden swimming hole along the Peabody River in the Pinkham Notch. Recounting The Emerald Pool, Bierstadt said, “I never had so difficult a picture to paint, as this White Mountain subject the Emerald Pool; my artist friends think it my best picture and so do I.”
At Holderness we deliberately build community through the people we bring in and programs we support. Today I want to share one story about people who showed us what it means to be a mission-centered community and talk about one unique program that is hitting a milestone.
Kicking off its 141st year, Holderness School welcomed new students to campus on September 5th. Under blue skies and surrounded by the cheers of joyful Senior Leaders, 114 new students eagerly joined the Holderness School community. The day was filled with smiles as new students and families unpacked their cars and turned dorm rooms into a home away from home.