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Upton Soccer Field Dedicated in Honor of Two Hometown Boys

Cecelia Henderson, wife of the late Bob Henderson, and Scott Rivers, son of the late Ernie Rivers, thank family, friends, and town officials during the dedication of the Robert Henderson and Ernest Rivers Memorial Field on West River St.

During the early evening hours of July 24, town officials and family and friends of the late Bob Henderson and Ernie Rivers gathered at the soccer field on West River St. to officially dedicate the Robert Henderson and Ernest Rivers Memorial Field which honors the two deceased residents who many remembered as dedicated men who gave so much of their time to helping out others. Ironically, both Henderson and Rivers were friends who worked to create the soccer field, which now bares their names.

Robert (Bob) Henderson, who passed away in 2009, had a long-standing reputation of serving his hometown of Upton in multiple ways including as a volunteer fireman, serving on the Long Range Financial Planning Committee, and a little league coach. Henderson, a contractor and builder, also generously donated pieces of land he owned to the town, including the property that eventually became the West River St. Soccer Field about eight years ago.

Ernest Rivers, who passed away in 2008, was a lifelong resident of Upton who also gave back to his community. Rivers was a heavy equipment operator who donated much of his spare time to helping with various projects in town that had large equipment needs, including clearing the land that would become the West River St. Soccer Field. He was also instrumental in beginning the town's Babe Ruth League and volunteered as a coach for many years.

Selectman Ken Picard, who was coached by Rivers when he was a youngster, spoke at the dedication and told the story of how he wanted to quit baseball because he was not doing well. Picard said Rivers encouraged him to keep trying until he succeeded. "That's one lesson that Mr. Rivers taught me," said Picard.

Richard Gazoorian of the Recreation Commission said he had the pleasure of knowing both honorees. "Bob Henderson and Ernie Rivers did a lot for our town and never asked for anything in return," said Gazoorian, who added that its people like the two men who make Upton the town that it is.

Gazoorian is also involved in the town's baseball program and announced that the right and left field foul poles at Memorial Field would from now on be known as the Rivers Pole and Henderson Pole, respectively.

Other speakers during the ceremony included Selectmen Robert Fleming, former Recreation Commissioner Dave Adams, and Upton resident Al Holman; all of whom told stories of their two friends.

The field was then officially dedicated during a Board of Selectmen's meeting at the site.

Cecelia Henderson, Bob's wife, seemed to sum up the feelings of those who knew the two best. "They were great friends and a terrific team. They were hometown boys," she said.


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