Thomas J. Ribaga
Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There are times when sorrow seems to me to be the only
truth”. Sorrow is the only truth for the people who loved Thomas “Jay” Ribaga, 73, who left this
world too soon on April 28, 2022.
Born in Brockton, the son of Mary Ribaga and T. Joseph Ribaga, Jay was the first in his
family to go to college. Jay had a love of learning. After earning a Bachelor of Science from
Northeastern University Industrial Psychology and Finance in 1971, Jay went on to earn a
Masters of Education from Springfield College, Summa Cum Laude, with a concentration in
counseling and Psychological Services. He put that degree to use as a Student Adjustment Counselor
for the Brockton School System, an adult special education specialist at MCI-Bridgewater, and a
Behavioral Specialist and Special Education Instructor at Barnstable High School. He also
practiced privately offering counseling and educational services such as group counseling and
small group tutoring up until he passed. Jay was a lifelong learner who continued taking classes
and getting designations.
However, Jay was more than his resume. Jay was a “Renaissance Man”. Jay could
tackle any topic and master it whether it be gardening, playing the guitar or athletics. As a
teenager, Jay watched Paul Newman in “The Hustler” and decided that is what he wanted to be.
He spent every afternoon at the pool hall mastering the geometry and style of Newman and
Gleason until, indeed, he became a “hustler”. He was a country gentleman who took great pride
in his yard and spent many hours in the hot sun pruning, cutting the grass and cultivating plants.
Jay was a music enthusiast and had a passion for concerts and playing his Martin guitar. And
although he would go anywhere for a good concert, he was a fixture at The Narrows Center for
the Arts, which he considered the best concert venue in New England.
He was also an avid athlete who once jumped out of a helicopter to ski Whistler. He was
a scuba diver, motorcycle rider, bike rider, mountain climber, and runner. Jay ran three Boston
Marathons. And in the last four years, Jay climbed Mt. Washington, Mt. Lafayette and Mt.
Always the adventurer, some highlights from Jay’s life would be going to Woodstock,
traveling through Europe with Sheldon and Henry, motorcycle trips with his deceased friend
Ralph, white water rafting through the Grand Canyon, and too many ski trips to count.
All of this is who Jay was, but for us, Jay was simply a great guy and devoted friend. Jay
would drop everything to help out a friend whether it was to take a chainsaw to a tree, give
someone a ride to a Dr.’s appointment, or offer an ear and impart good advice, Jay would never
let you down.
Jay is survived by his life partner Donna Torres, best friends’ Sonny and Cindy Mone,
Carl Brugnoli, and Sheldon Moniz. He is also survived by his godchild, Megan Mone.
And while sorrow is our only truth right now, Jay would not want us to be sad. He would want
us to remember him at our happiest shared moments.
What is legacy? Some people say their legacy is their children. Others say you can find
legacy in art. Or perhaps legacy is a poem or a book or having a building named after you. Jay
didn’t paint. He didn’t write a song or a novel. And his name is not on a building. But a legacy
is not only what you leave after you die. A legacy is who we become because you lived! And
Jay made us all better. That’s a legacy that will carry on. And the road goes on forever.
There will be a private burial for Jay. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later
date at The Narrows Center for the Arts.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas J. Ribaga, please visit our floral store.