Richard L. Rotelli Books    
  A Creative Odyssey: The Story of Floyd and Richie
Let Me Be a Light: The Faith Journey of Father Ron Lawson
both by Richard L. Rotelli
   
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Below are reviews from a few sources.

 
Review from Ann Connery Frantz

ANN CONNERY FRANTZ REVIEW
Published in The Lowell Sun
Sunday, November 23, 2003

With a little help from his friends, Floyd lived life fully
By Ann Connery Frantz
Sun staff


Title: A Creative Odyssey: The Story of Floyd and Richie
Author: Richard L. Rotelli
Publisher: Infinity Publishing, 2002
Genre: Biography
Ranking:
(1 – 5 stars)
Readability: Rotelli’s recounting of a remarkable individual who persevered despite his paralyzed limbs to grab life by the seat of the pants, and the people who helped him do it.
Selected Passage: “One half of it stood tall and proud and flourished, its branches reaching skyward with good, vital foliage. The other half was dead, its branches gnarled and twisted . . .Other people may have only seen a half-alive tree, but to Floyd it was a metaphor for his own body.”

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       What do you do when life deals you bad cards, decimating your ability to walk, run, play sports, even live a simple, independent life? In short, what happens when dreams are cut short – in an era before motorized wheelchairs, physical therapists and handicapped access?

       Floyd Walser, a Texas cowboy who loved to ride, a restless youth in search of his first big job, had to face those questions. In 1909, just as he embarked on the adventures of a western manhood, polio struck. The disease left him nearly helpless at age 21, with control over one arm only, and his head.

       It was a cruel twist of fate.

       What he did despite his handicap, however, underscores how vastly a person can exceed expectations. Floyd’s “creative odyssey” is a lesson in making the most out of life.

       If kids today read about Floyd Walser, they wouldn’t relate. They might not even believe that a man so burdened could embrace life as he did. But Chelmsford resident Richard L. Rotelli grew up knowing Floyd and has told his story in A Creative Odyssey: The Story of Floyd and Richie. Rotelli, who grew up on Waushakum Pond in Framingham, was Floyd’s neighbor. His father, the “Richie” of the title, became Walser’s friend. More than that, Richie was a born inventor, constantly challenged by Floyd’s unmet needs. Perhaps Floyd struck a sympathetic chord with Richie, who had been pulled out of school to help his Italian immigrant family financially, and knew what it was to have your dreams altered.

       But much transpired before these two met.

       Floyd, not stopped by his paralysis, possessed of an unusual tenacity and the courage to take risks, followed his instincts - - to try what most people in his situation simply would not have dared to brave.

       He began to draw, something he’d always had a whim to do, and something that seemed possible to achieve with only one hand.

       What followed his fledgling effort was the first of several “chance” meetings in Floyd Walser’s life that led to opportunity. A traveling journalist met, then wrote about, Floyd. With his life thus revealed in an article published in the East, Floyd heard from Edith Noyes Greene, truly a matriarch of the arts for Framingham in the early to mid- 1900s. Edith, a talented performer, teacher and composer of music - - married to her former music student from Harvard, Mass., Roy Greene - - was so amazed at Floyd’s efforts to accomplish an artistic career, that she impulsively invited him to live with the couple in Framingham. Husband Roy only figured that out when he met Floyd at the train station - - and needed to carry him into a vehicle, to a house with no handicapped access. Their home still stands by Lake Waushakum, known as “Harmony House”, thanks to its musical roots.

       The Greenes never balked at the daily care Floyd required, encouraging his development as an artist while taking care of meals and hygiene. They also made sure Floyd saw more of the world, taking him out for rides in the country and ice cream runs, including him in their dinner parties and social events.

       At one point, the Greenes had a car fitted with enough equipment to allow Floyd to drive one-handed. Floyd used that vehicle to go cross country. He couldn’t get himself in or out of it, couldn’t even take care of his basic needs, but he could drive that car. The rest he worked out, relying on strangers and friends. With that, his world opened up, and Floyd saw his Texas family again, the Northwest, the Plains states and the South. It would be in his artwork thereafter.

       Much like the Greenes, the Rotelli family accepted Floyd Walser into their lives. As the Greenes aged and were unable to assist him, the Rotellis took over.

       Richie Rotelli couldn’t stop tinkering, finding ways to make Floyd - - now 59 and still lacking the freedoms enjoyed by able-bodied people - - mobile. First came a motorized pulley arrangement to help him get out of bed in one minute instead of the 45 he was used to. Then a wheelchair Floyd could operate with a power switch - - the source of many a trial-and-error experience for them all.

       When Floyd became a determined fisherman, without the means to really explore his new avocation, Richie made it possible. First came “projectile fishing” something you must read for yourself to enjoy, then a motor boat that truly liberated him.

       Men especially may like Rotelli’s book, as the author goes into a lot of detail about the engineering challenges surrounding Floyd’s handicaps as well as the details of building projects and Richie’s cars. There’s more than a little local history tucked in as well. My eyes sometimes glazed over at all that detail, but history buffs and gizmo lovers will eat it up. Most engineers are a little wacky about solving problems, and Floyd’s needs offered a lot of opportunities to go nuts. As the guinea pig, Floyd suffered from fear more than once while trying out their inventions.

       There are some terrific vignettes in A Creative Odyssey, including an incident with the Rotelli’s cat and dog that I truly would have loved to see. The book . . . is a fascinating, down-home read about the way people come together to accomplish great things.

 
Reviews from Buybooksontheweb.com
Courage and Caring
Reviewed by: Joe Scole (3/10/2004)

Does one's inspiration and motivation for living a meaningful and gratifying life get any better than this? A Creative Odyssey is a real story about how two very special individuals, Richie and Floyd, met despite distances and backgrounds far apart, resulting in a captivating combination of courage and caring. It is a story that had to be told. Author Dick Rotelli had a huge advantage in relating the human bonding aspect while interweaving much of the history of the times and locale of Framingham, Massachusetts. Richie was the author’s dad. Floyd Walser, stricken as a young man with polio, refused to allow his adversity to become an obstacle in experiencing a rewarding and productive life as an accomplished artist. Richie, a neighbor and mechanical wizard, one of Floyd’s closest supporters, provided not just a spirit of hope and friendship, but took his mechanical ingenuity to the next level in building several apparatuses that would miraculously facilitate Floyd’s mobility- including a fishing boat in which Floyd spent many enjoyable days on a nearby pond. An interesting assortment of historical photographs sprinkled throughout the book capture the colorful flavor of the times and the closeness of an immigrant Italian family, while much of Floyd’s remarkable artwork demonstrates his true genius. Dick Rotelli has a down-to-earth style of writing that effortlessly conveys the intended message of his story; a message of courage, human kindness, generosity, caring and of course, family pride. This is a must read for anyone who needs a little inspiration now and then.

Screenplay ingredients.
Reviewed by: Frank Porter (1/5/2005)

"A Creative Odyssey" relates a true story about real people, especially Floyd Walser and Richie Rotelli, and it is an outstanding testament to their human spirits. While I had the pleasure of working with Richard Rotelli for many years at Raytheon Company I was unaware of this background in his family history. Upon his retirement, family and friends convinced Richard to write this story about Floyd and his father, also named Richard. They thought it was that important to do and Richard (thankful for us who read it) under took the task. It was certainly a labor of love and Richard is still collecting data for future editions. This is an amazing story and Richard has presented a truly splendid accounting. Take the time to read it; it is well worth the effort. I also think it has all the ingredients for a splendid screenplay. Frank K. Porter Jr.
 

 
Reviews from Amazon.com

This book has made my top 10 list, December 28, 2013
Reviewer: Peter Barbella

Once in a while a book comes along which has the power to alter your life; make it more fulfilled. This is just such a book.

The author has a writing style which makes you feel like you are living in the story; and what a story this is. A Creative Odyssey is a whirlwind of dogged determination in synergism with staggering human compassion.

You cannot come away from this book without feeling envious of the people who lived the story.

Well done!

America in its Infancy, July 21, 2002
Reviewer: Madlyn A Fafard (Framingham, Mass)

America was still young, when this story began. Hardships were common among the general population. Immigration from Europe was still heavy in the early part of the Century, and the story is alive with the kindness, and helping of recent immigrants.

It brought back so many memories for me, things I had forgotten, about how good family and neighbors could be for and to each other.(It is especially interesting, if you grew up in Framingham, with Fred Bortolussi, Henry Belloli, and Richard Rotelli, as I did.) Here was a man, Floyd, born over two thousand miles away from New England, who came as a stranger, and ended up being supported, loved, cared for and encouraged, by total strangers who in essence became his family. It is more than the story of Floyd Walser and the Greenes, who took in Floyd Walser , it is the story of the neighbors, the Rotelli's, the Bortolussi's, the Belloli's and especially Richard Rotelli, who invented an electric wheelchair and a boat for Floyd, and of Carlo Belloli, who was with Floyd to the end. We can not forget the author's part in this story, obviously he was awed and impressed by the interaction of the people involved in doing what we are here on earth to do. Give of ourselves, our love and caring, to help others learn to overcome the obstacles in their lives. Truly an all American story, garnished with history, as it was occurring around us.

No man is an island ..., July 7, 2002
Reviewer: corvidmind

"A Creative Odyssey" is the engaging narrative of a young Texan man by the name of Floyd Walser who answers adversity with courage, and finds meaning in a life of art. It is also the story of his inspired patrons - the Greenes, husband and wife musicians who bring a young Walser to Massachusetts to live with them and to study art at the famed Museum School in Boston. Lastly, it is the story of Walser's neighbor Richie Rotelli, and how the courage of a disabled man facing life without excuses can inspire the generous support and incredible ingenuity of a man and his family. This is a true story of Americana, with threads of interesting historical detail supplied by the author. The most compelling aspect of the book is the human drama - how people respond to challenges, whether their own or someone else's. This is not history writ large, but the rich history of extraordinary people you find next door to you. This book should resonate particularly with residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, where most of the story is set. Well-researched, the book is written with a personal, refreshingly unmannered voice. The book is illustrated liberally with examples of Walser's art, and with many interesting period photographs.

An Odyssey of the Human Spirit, July 6, 2002
Reviewer: Larry & Judy Pumfrey (Saugus, MA United States)

A heartwarming story. Not only the story of one man's courage and determination to overcome the challenges of near total paraplegia to become a successful artist-----but also the story of the generosity of spirit that he encounters in the benefactors and friends that he meets along the way.
The author brings us into this "Creative Odyssey" and with clarity and wit enchants us and puts us in touch with the best the human spirit has to offer, filling us with warmth and hope and the appreciation of life's gifts.

Memories Revisited, July 4, 2002
Reviewer: Jean M. Goodwin (Goodyear, Az)

Dick Rotelli has written a facinating book. He has a unique way of blending the love of family, friends and history.
The Town of Framingham, Massachusetts will be proud to have a "son" so talented.

A Creative Odyssey, July 3, 2002
Reviewer: Thad Risinger (Blanco, TX)

"A Creative Odyssey" is the story of Texas native, Floyd Walser, who was badly crippled by polio in the early 1900's. He overcame despair and eventually became an accomplished artist although he had only the use of his right arm. Factors in his remarkable accomplishment were the help of his family, the altruistic efforts of New England musician and composer, Edith Greene, and the Edison like inventiveness of Richie Rotelli who was ahead of his time in developing aids for the disabled.
The story of Floyd should serve to remind most of us that our problems are not as cataclysmic as they might seem.

The book is well organized, clearly written, and flows well for the reader.

Courage, Love, and Creativity, June 30, 2002
Reviewer: Mary Starr (Del Mar, CA United States)

A Creative Odyssey is the biography of three people connected by chance and their exceptional qualities.The story takes place primarily in the first half of the 20th century.
Edith Greene, a New England society woman and composer; Floyd Walser, a Texas cowboy artist who could move only his right hand; and Richie Rotelli, a factory worker who invented and built, share this odyssey.

All three characters were fascinating, but it was Floyd who intrigued me the most; however, Floyd would not have been able to have done the things he did without the help and generosity of the other two.

This is a story of courage, of love, and of creativity which is a very worthwhile read.

Art and Science; Love and Respect, June 27, 2002
Reviewer: Susan Bassler Pickford (Portland, ME)

A Creative Odyssey is a page turner. It appeals to the reader on many different levels. Art enthusiasts will marvel at the obstacles overcome by Floyd N. Walser who suffered from the ravages of polio. He became a respected painter and engraver. Engineers will respect the native imaginative genius of his friend Richie Rotelli who designed and created whatever Floyd needed to be an independent person including a customized wheelchair and fishing boat. History buffs will enjoy the story of Framingham as seen through the relationships of an Italian immigrant family. Everyone can relate to the warm unique friendship between Floyd and Richie. The author has woven all these threads into a fascinating narrative and a wonderful inspirational story.
 

 
Reviews from Barnes & Nobles

A reviewer, November 25, 2002,
A Fascinating Book

I found "A Creative Odyssey" by Richard Rotelli a fascinating "read". Foremost it was an inspiring story on how one man, the artist Floyd Walser, managed a handicap that would have made most people give up. At the same time it was a celebration of the impact of the author's father on his family, friends and the artist. But, what I found particularly intriguing was its glimpse into life in a small New England town during the World War II era as well as the warmth and contribution of the Italian community. A demographic pattern that was duplicated in so many New England towns by all ethnic groups.

A reviewer, November 22, 2002,
Two Lives Intertwined

A Creative Odyssey by Richard Rotelli spans a fifty-four year journey of two very different individuals describing how they met and how their subsequent friendship impacted their lives. This true story is filled with factual documentation and is a fascinating, entertaining book of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of two diverse families in the early 20th century whom those with similar ethnic backgrounds will identify. One is an Italian family of immigrants who migrate to Framingham, Massachusetts, and the other is an early American Texan family entrenched in early American southwestern culture. The reader’s curiosity is heightened with the eventual meeting of two extraordinary talented men, one from each family: Richie, who is mechanically inclined and a clever inventor in his own right and Floyd a strong willed, incapacitated crippled artist. These two men with vastly diverse aptitudes and family backgrounds, impact and bind with each other to form an incredible strong friendship. A Creative Odyssey blends factual historical information with the emotional impact and sense of responsibility that motivates Richie to devise creative inventions to overcome obstacles that virtually salvages the talents of his friend Floyd.

J. Manning, a reader who enjoys a good story., November 20, 2002,
" A Creative Odyssey" is worth the trip.

"A Creative Odyssey" is a wonderfully warm and sensitive story of the remarkable life-long friendship of two talented and creative men. The impact of each of these men on the author is so powerful that he seems to be relating the story rather than writing it. This sense of narration is a gentle urging for the reader to continue and not put the book down.

 


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