By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – In September, the youth hockey world was rocked by the sudden passing of Herbert “Wes” Tuttle, arguably the most well-known local figure in the sport. Tuttle was just 62 and died unexpectedly at home, leaving a large hole in the heart of the New England Sports Center and local hockey fans.
Longtime ice hockey coach for Assabet Valley Regional Technical High, David Quinn, remembers Tuttle fondly.
“Wes was an excellent hockey player in his own right, having an outstanding career at Marlborough High and then on to some level of junior hockey I believe. Like a lot of other sports- minded people, he continued to find a way to make his passion, ice hockey, a huge part of his life,” Quinn relayed.
“My first interactions with Wes were when he helped manage the Navin Rink. He was always in a friendly and welcoming mood whenever you entered the rink. When he moved to manage the Sports Center, he was really able to grow into a role I think he was born to do, a promoter of the game of hockey. He was truly a wonderful ambassador for the game, played at any level. In conversations with Wes, it didn’t take long before you understood he really enjoyed the hockey environment and truly cared about the kids who were coming into his building. “
“He was also always out and about in the Sports Center, and if you needed him, he would always make himself available any place and any time of day to assist you with your ice time needs. In the hockey world of these parts, when people were speaking of Wes, no last name was needed. Everyone knew him and all of us will miss him,” he continued.
With Tuttle at the helm since its inception, the New England Sports Center (NESC) recently was expanded to over 300,000 square feet, boasting eight full-sized rinks and two smaller ones. Ice skating championships and hockey tournaments fill the arena and also local hotels weekend after weekend. Mayor Arthur Vigeant once referred to the NESC as an “economic engine” in the city of Marlborough, referring to the number of people coming to stay, eat and shop in Marlborough while in town for events. Indirectly, those visitors to the city, through the revenue from hotel taxes, support the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation and through meal taxes, make local parks and recreation improvements possible, such as the turf fields, playgrounds and splash parks.
Tuttle, however, was not using the economic boon to the city as his motivator. He was all about hockey and getting youngsters to come in and get excited about the sport. He loved to encourage people to just get on the ice. He often spoke about the various camps and classes that were run at the NESC, giving local youth opportunities to strap on the skates. He typically would not take credit for the success of the Center, however. He stressed what a great community Marlborough is, mentioning the restaurants and hotels, the mall, and the APEX Center, for in his mind, making visitors feel welcome was the reason they would come back.
In an unprecedented move, the calling hours for his funeral were held at the NESC. Tuttle was a hometown boy who never hesitated to give back to his community or help someone in need. Maybe, just maybe, Tuttle was one of the reasons so many visitors came back. He will be missed.