By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury/Rutland – On Aug. 13, Michael Gelbwasser, a freelancer for the Community Advocate for the last two years, as well as several other media organizations, lost his hard fought and valiant battle with colorectal cancer. Prior to joining the C.A., Mike was a local editor for several Patch online news sites. As such, he was well-known to many, covering everything from government meetings, community festivals, and school events, as well as profiling dozens of residents and groups.
Thanks to more than two decades of experience and a tireless work ethic, Mike had the tools to be a successful journalist who always got his story done correctly, on time and in an interesting way. But just as importantly, his open, friendly manner and compassion for others helped him make friends where ever he went as he covered his stories. To know Mike was to be his friend. It was really as simple as that.
All of us at the Community Advocate join his many friends and acquaintances in sending our sincerest sympathies to Mike’s family on this great loss of a talented and kind young man whose life ended much too short.
Rest in peace, Mike, you will be missed.
The following – his obituary – is his last piece that he wrote shortly before he passed away.
Michael (Mike) S. Gelbwasser, 46, of Shrewsbury, formerly of Rutland, died August 13, 2015 in the Rose Monahan Hospice Home in Worcester after a battle with colorectal cancer which was diagnosed in June 2014.
Born on December 25, 1968 in Holden and raised in Rutland, he was the son of Bonnie and the late Herman Gelbwasser. He was educated in the Rutland public schools and was a 1986 graduate of Wachusett Regional High School. He earned a B.A. in English/writing in 1990 and an M.A. in professional writing/journalism in 1992 at the University of Massachusetts -Dartmouth, where he was sports editor of the college newspaper, The Torch, for three semesters.
Mike was a local journalist for more than 20 years, most recently freelancing. He was the first editor of Sharon Patch. He later was editor of Westborough Patch and Northborough Patch and was previously a staff writer for the (Attleboro) Sun Chronicle. He earned three awards in the New England Press Association’s 2000 Annual Better Newspaper Contest for his work with the Foxboro Reporter: special award, first place, unique and outstanding journalistic accomplishment; first place, human interest feature story; and second place, reporting on religious issues.
A former member of the Westborough Historical Society, Mike volunteered at Friends of the Westborough Public Library book sales and volunteered for 10 years at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Greater Attleboro, serving as a team captain and planning committee member toward the end of his tenure. In 2014, he participated in the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Cancer Walk. He was an avid comic book collector and, for a time, wrote “With One Magic Word,” a blog about the New England comic book scene for the Sun Chronicle. He also was a diehard baseball and hockey fan.
Mike is survived by his mother, Bonnie Gelbwasser of Johnson City, NY, formerly of Rutland and Mashpee; his sister, Amy Payne and her husband, Mark, of Endwell, NY and their family; uncles and aunts, Carl Romalis, Edward and Bernice Gelbwasser, Frank and Rhonda Gelbwasser, Michael and Alice Jacobs; several cousins; and many friends. Mike’s dad died on August 11, 2011. His sister, Sherry, died of ovarian cancer on April 26, 2013.
The family thanks the staff of the UMass Memorial Medical Center, VNA nurses and the Rose Monahan Hospice Home staff for their compassionate care.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, those who wish are invited to donate to Mt. Wachusett Community College, 444 Green St., Gardner, MA 01440 or to Asnuntuck Community College, 170 Elm St., Enfield, CT 06082 in memory of Michael S. Gelbwasser.