To the Editor:

My friend and mentor, Richie Rossini, died in Jupiter, Fla., this morning of heart failure. In charge to the end, he told them to pull life support. Fate brought us together at just the right time for me when I was a young high school kid in 1965 driving an old army truck around town.

A natural born mechanic and fabricator, not intimidated by problems or materials, he could analyze anything wrong with any piece of machinery. Learning from his elders growing up here in the early fifties, he was a repairman rather than a remove and replace man. I can see him sitting on a low stool with a pail of gas full of gears and bearings in front of him, washing off the pieces to something he was rebuilding. I never saw him draw plans. It was all in his head.

He welded broken booms on backhoes, rebuilt buckets for them, fabricated new steel assemblies, rebuilt truck beds and even built his own tow truck. He taught me how to work steel: weld, braze, cut, design-in-my-head and build it. He taught me the lost art of torch welding. I learned how to operate heavy equipment and how it worked, shift its gears, use air brakes and plan ahead while driving something heavy on the road.

Richie played the role of my second dad at a time when I was ready to learn a trade. I only worked for him for a couple of years but he remained a friend for life, always interested in hearing my story and telling me his. He was so smart, so naturally gifted at what he did, it was my luck to know him.

Rob Kinnaird

Peaceable Hill Road, March 27