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Written by NEARO   
Monday, 25 June 2018 10:58

Frank Grasso!

He is one of the few people in my life who deserve their own paragraph and punctuation mark. My “brother from another mother” had that much impact on me for the quarter of a century and more that I enjoyed his friendship, his presence.

Once again, Frank, it is the wee hours of the morning and I find myself speaking with you. I have done this virtually each morning since I learned of your death. I was thousands of miles away when I learned the news. The jolt to me was intense. It did not matter whether I was in some corner of the Earth or in the room next to you. The distance did not matter. It is the connection that you and I have that covered the miles. There is part of an Eagles song that runs through my head when I think of your leaving: “There is a hole in the world tonight.” It is inside that hole that I have these early morning conversations with you. And, I smile!

I smile when I recount the many Frank stories and adventures. I was part of many of them, and share some of them here as my tribute to you, my brother. Many who miss you dearly will likely connect with my recollections. They, too, will smile!

The first time I visited your home in Maryland, I was so impressed by the swimming pool in the back yard. It was marvelous with its blue inlaid tiles. I asked who installed it, and your answer blew me away: “I did.” You explained that you just decided that you and Florence wanted a pool, so you did it! My friend, Frank, the builder.

I remember the time Lee Hedgepeth needed help at his house to make some repairs. I recall that a nail gun was one of the necessary tools. Lee was fascinated with this “new toy”. Your instructions were simple: “Back away from the nail gun and move those rocks to a new pile”! He complied and still has all ten fingers. Thanks, Frank, for being that kind of friend to help another friend in need.

Oh, how I remember our trip to Rome in late 1999. Many folks were concerned about the whole Y2K computer changeover. Not you, Frank! John Dunlop, Karen, Florence, Marilyn and I joined you and poked our collective fingers into the eyes of the computer gods and flew to Italy. My friend, Frank, is an adventurer!

I remember landing in Sicily on the first day of that trip. Marilyn and I emerged from baggage claim. One of the first things I saw was my friend, Frank, wearing his Indy Jones type hat. Man, the only thing missing was the Indy bullwhip!
I remember clearly so many Italians speaking to me in the language. You and Florence were taking Italian lessons at the time. My deer-in-the-headlights response to folks was always the same: “Frank?!” My friend, Frank, the learner!

We sat on the duplex’s deck during that trip watching Mt. Etna smoking in the distance. We kept saying, “Any minute that sucker is gonna blow”! It did not, but we were ready to flee. Our time on the deck always followed a magnificent breakfast you had fixed that morning. My friend, Frank, the chef!

We journeyed down to your ancestral home on that trip. We called the town “Franco Ville”. As we rode through town, I remember your saying, “No wonder my folks left. This town sucks!” We went shopping for leather goods!

On the drive to Rome from Sicily, you and I whined about stuff at work. Florence, a woman of few yet powerful words, turned to us and said, “You are organizers. Deal with it!” We caved!
Finally in Rome, we set out to return the rental car. You drove. I rode shotgun. We saw the rental car office across the street, but could not make a U-turn. We ditched the rental next to a dumpster, walked across the street to do paper work and drop the keys. When informed of where the car was left, the counter agent bolted out of the front door in a panic as she yelled, “You can’t leave it there. Someone will steal it”! Sheepishly, our reaction was, “Who knew??"

Soon it was New Year’s Eve and we partied on the streets like it was 1999. Wait, it was! We traversed the sea of humanity with me in the lead, you in the rear, with our friends between. I had a “G” on my baseball cap, and you calmed our charges by saying, “Keep your eyes on the G!” We got doused in the plaza with sprayed champagne from the folks high on a wall! The best of times, my brother!

Oh, how I remember Fausto Carboni, your safari guide in Africa. I never tired of hearing you tell the story of Fausto and how he led you into the bush and cautioned you and others to NOT RUN, as he went over a hill to check for wildlife on the other side. In the next moments, you heard a gunshot, and Fausto came running over the hill while yelling, “RUN”! I never tired of hearing you tell that story, Frank! I could always see the trails of dust in your wake.

I could go on. Ok, I will for just a bit longer! One of my fondest memories was when you, Lee, Thad Daise, and I met a gentleman in a bar in Seattle. He kept insisting that he knew Lee, Thad, and me. We assured him that he did not know us. At first he insisted that we played pro basketball. Huh? Then he thought the three of us were a singing group. Huh? On that note, he insisted that you were our manager. You calmly asked, “How come the White guy can’t sing? Why do I have to be the manager?” Those two questions slayed several dragons of stereotyping. My brother, Frank, the champion of all!

I remember how you had my back when I got stopped in the Indianapolis airport by the police. I had a bag of PAC money. Yes, literally a bag of money from the earlier leadership conference. I balked at the cops when they insisted I explain the money. When I relayed the story to folks back home later, some friends admitted they would have caved. You stood with me when you supported my response to the cops. My friend, Frank, the social justice warrior!

I remember when you emerged from a dimly lit café in Amsterdam. You were a bit disoriented when the sun hit your face and could not remember which direction would take you back to the hotel. However, you knew the hotel was on the circle tram line and that if you got on it, the hotel would appear sooner or later. Victory! It did! My friend, Frank, the explorer!

I remember how you doodled on napkins during staff meetings, creating these awesome works of art. My friend, Frank, the artist!

I remember the point at which you would become frustrated with something going on in a staff meeting. You would stop doodling, rub your eyeballs with the heels of your hands, and then make your point for all of us to hear. We all moved our chairs back when you rubbed your eyeballs because we knew what was next! My friend, Frank, keeping it real!

I remember how you took on the town council in Vermont when your property taxes were too high.

I remember how you created the new menu for the tennis club restaurant near your new digs in Florida.

I remember you, Lee, and me dressed in our tuxedos at the second Clinton Inaugural Ball. Damn, we were hot. However, we got our comeuppance when Jimmy Smits walked in and our respective wives left us to get their “Smits Fix”! Here is our picture from that night.

My dear Frank, I remember your passion for the Union and the members. I remember your integrity, your honesty, your larger than life personality.

I miss you, my brother. The Eagles tune goes on to say, “Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.” I help fill the hole with these memories and will always do so. I still smile in the wee hours of the morning.

I will see you on the other side of whatever separates our worlds now! Love and peace, Frank!

Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2018 12:25
COLA increase for our pensions! Print E-mail
Written by NEARO   
Saturday, 16 December 2017 09:13

Good news! Effective 1/1/2018, each of our pension payments will increase by 1.6%!

There will be a note on each payment stub for everyone who receives a pension benefit that their 1/1/2018 benefit has been increased by 1.6%.

The COLA applies to every recurring retirement payment effective on 1/1/2018, regardless of when someone started receiving their pension.

NEARO played a role many years ago in advocating for the automatic COLA on our pensions.

Here's a description of the COLA from the Summary Plan Description:

"The Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is an annual increase that is applied to your basic NEA Plan monthly retirement pension each January 1. It is designed to help you keep up with inflation and the increased cost of living.

Each January’s COLA is based on 80% of the change in the U.S. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, CPI-U, from October to October of the previous year. There is a maximum annual increase of 3% applied to your pension. Effective January 1, 2000, the minimum annual increase is 11/2%.

COLA = CPI-U change from October to October x 80%, up to a maximum of 3% and not less than 11/2%"

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 December 2017 10:29
Written by NEARO   
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 20:51


  • NEARO is measurably stronger; including increased membership, participation in coalitions, innovations (such as electronic voting) and more frequent membership communicatio
  • Our participation in member meetings has strengthened and we have established more active committees.
  • Increased engagement and coalitions with allies (such as NSO).
  • Increased participation and recognition by NEA in our oversight of NEA Retirement Board.

2018 & Beyond Goals

  • Membership Engagement -  Continue to expand membership to all plan members, focusing on state affiliate retirees as well as NEA retirees.
  • Communication/Connection - Update our technology for greater effectiveness, in order to expand our ability to communicate with members, provide timely information and receive their input.
  • Advocacy - Continue our advocacy for all retirees in the NEA Retirement Plan, and strengthen the voice of NEARO, whose members represent the majority of plan participants.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2018 12:34
2018 NEARO Officers, Board of Directors, Ex Officio Print E-mail
Written by Editor   
Monday, 04 April 2016 00:00



Joel Packer, President *

Gloria Constant, Vice President *

Betty JeungBetty Jeung, Recording Secretary

Tomás Saucedo, Membership Secretary *

Martinez Steven Martinez, Treasurer

Board of Director members:

Carol Adams

Mona Ball *

Edith JeffersonEdith Jefferson

Pat OrrangePat Orrange

Rafael Rivera *

John Thurston *

Teresa Rankin, Immediate Past President

* term expires 12/31/2018, all others expire 12/31/2019

Lynn Coffin, Ex Officio - Outreach Editor

Last Updated on Friday, 15 December 2017 15:48
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