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Honoring a Local Legend

Roy Malool – An Amazing, Positive Spirit!

'Karen and Jay share thoughts on their great friend and community leader, Roy Malool'

When we founded the Newport Sunshine Initiative five years ago, Roy Malool was 91 years old. A positive spirit with boundless energy, he was running his business, going into the office every day and most of all, committed to helping the community he loved. Doing all this in spite of the fact, that he was pretty much legally blind and had to be driven up to Dartmouth three times a week to get his kidney dialysis treatments. And of course, that yes, he was 91 years old. But you couldn’t stop this guy!

Not surprisingly, when we founded the Sunshine Initiative, Roy embraced the effort with all his heart – and literally became my closest partner in driving the progress – revitalizing our great community of Newport, New Hampshire. In the course of our efforts together, Roy became a close, close friend. Karen and I developed a deep respect and fondness for Roy and his devoted wife, Eeva. I talked to Roy almost every day. The phone would often ring around 7 a.m., and it would be Roy. An idea to restore the Opera House, improve the school, revive the local newspaper, build a community center for the next generation, develop a ‘school to work’ program for our high school students or whatever else. Idea after idea. And, always with the most positive spirit and a firm belief that if we could just get good people together, talking, communicating with one another – then magical things would happen.

When it comes to leadership by example, there is no one who can surpass what this man demonstrated. The town of Newport has benefited in ways that are beyond measure due to Roy’s efforts and generosity. And, I personally have learned so very much from Roy – and his leadership. Really a role model for so very many. So, it is with a great sense of loss that we said ‘goodbye’ to Roy a couple weeks ago at the age of 96. Newport lost a true treasure. And I lost one of my closest friends.

But as Roy would say ‘the future is bright!’ Incredible opportunities. Our best days are ahead of us. When it comes to leadership in our communities, we often think that it’s solely the responsibility of our elected officials to find solutions to our challenges or problems. We may also look to them for guidance, inspiration, or a morale boost. While it certainly is part of their duty, it must also be recognized that community challenges require community-based solutions, and with that, support and action from the community. Whether it be local businesses, charities, just an everyday citizen, or a coalition of each of these, the strongest communities are the ones where local civic engagement beyond that of our elected officials is not only prevalent, but commonplace. And this is what Roy so very much exemplified.

When President Teddy Roosevelt helped create the National Civic League, he boldly challenged Americans to, “be actors, and not merely critics of others.” Building community “takes a village” as the proverb goes, and this includes individuals willing to take responsibility for their communities. A few years ago, when the Sunshine Initiative was just an idea, it was Roy who first offered his support. He attended every event he could, health permitting, donated resources and capital, and made important introductions. Now several years later, thanks to his support and initial belief, that idea has flourished into a series of actions that have not only helped my hometown of Newport blossom, but has helped several communities across New Hampshire do the same. It’s Roy’s example that demonstrates how much we as individuals can do not only to inspire others to get involved, but address the needs and aspirations of our communities.

Following a visit to the United States in 1831, French historian and Philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville wrote his famed book Democracy in America. In it, he expressed his fascination with the way in which Americans believed in working together as means of promoting the greater good. He went on to note that, “the health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens,” an observation that within the foundations of American society, even if we do so unknowingly, as citizens we tend to promote the well-being of one another, which strengthens us. It was also a warning that in order to promote the well-being of our democracy, we as citizens must take responsibility for it through civic duties. Roy brilliantly demonstrated in his own playful way that all starts with each of us taking ownership within our own communities.

So, please enjoy this edition of the Sunshine Report. We are dedicating it entirely in honor of our dear friend, Roy. And, as we move on, we leave on a positive, upbeat note, in much the same way that Roy ended so many conversations with me over these past few years – ‘Jay, stay positive! Stay positive!’ I urge you, too, to stay positive and see the wonderful future that lies ahead.

Roy Malool – Local Legend

“It’s a really sad day for the town of Newport. He’s going to be missed,” said Newport resident Brian Coronis when discussing the passing of Roy Malool. The Newport institution passed away last Sunday at the age of 96.

Born in 1926 in Teaneck, New Jersey, Malool grew up in the state and lived there until he joined the US Merchant Marines in 1944. While serving, he traveled worldwide, from South America to Europe. Upon returning home, Malool made his way to New Hampshire because his family had a summer home in East Lempster.

He would then meet his first wife, Margot, on a blind date just after she immigrated to the US from Finland. The two would go on to have three children; Susan, Melissa, and Shayna. Margot and Melissa preceded him in 2005 and 2013, respectively. In 2006, he married Eeva of Helsinki, Finland.

A man ahead of his time, he started a water-based coating-for-printing company called Roymal, Inc in 1956. The company was the first of its kind, providing environmental and food-friendly printed materials for large item packaging. Based in Newport, the company provides materials to manufacturers worldwide.

Many Newport projects can thank Malool for his help in the planning and funding through the Roy Malool Family Foundation. Examples include the bronze bust of Sara Josepha Hale, which resides outside the Newport Library Arts Center. While Malool was often generous with his funds, he also was generous with his time and love for the town of Newport.

“He loved Newport, and he wanted to preserve it,” stated Virginia ‘Biddy’ Irwin while reminiscing on the life and times of Malool. “He will be missed; there is no question. He was a force to be reckoned with.”

When approached for this story, several Newport residents spoke about the kindness, generosity, and humor that Malool shared throughout his life.

After speaking with community members, it is clear that for each incident of philanthropy Malool was known for, there are untold examples of the ways that he gave to Newport in secret.

“He’s contributed to the town for a lot longer than people probably knew, and he did it anonymously for a long time,” Brian Coronis said of his longtime family friend.

Coronis would go on, stating that it was Malool that was directly responsible for him returning to Newport to purchase his father’s business, “Coronis Market’’ after he had moved to California. Coronis stated that Malool and Harold LaValley sat him down and read him the “riot act” to make sure he knew what he was getting into when purchasing the business.

“Roy always said he was the board, meaning the Coronis board, and wanted to make sure that I was doing things the right way, which meant his way,” Coronis said, laughing about Malool’s input.

Malool’s input throughout the town of Newport was seemingly boundless for many years. According to former Selectboard members, Malool would not often attend town meetings but rather reach out to individuals on the board to discuss the many ways he would like to see Newport improve. On top of countless donations for groups, he sat on boards such as the Newport Opera House Association and the Richards Free Library Arts Center. Malool was also deeply invested in the education system in town.

“He was very concerned about our education system and wanted it to model some of the systems they use in Finland,” recalled Irwin. “At one time, he asked me to go to Boston to meet with a famous Finnish educator while he was a visiting professor at Harvard. He was interested in seeing if we could adapt some of it to our system. We realized we couldn’t, but he was always looking out for ways to try and improve the community.”

Aside from the significant contributions Malool made to the town of Newport, he is often spoken of as an incredibly humorous man who had a penchant for pulling pranks on his friends, George Dorr Jr. and Jim Lantz in particular.

“When my father remarried my stepmother, they went on a honeymoon. When they got home, they found that [Malool] had left them an old rusted-out car with a rooster in it. He left a bunch of bells under their bed and had plastic wrapped all the toilets in the house. I remember my dad going out to feed the rooster in the mornings after that,” Terry Dorr, son of Dorr Jr., recalled fondly of the antics between his father and Malool.

Over the last few years, Malool knew his health was failing, but that certainly didn’t slow him down. He managed to come up with a non-traditional way to help fund artistic endeavors in Newport that he loved dearly. According to several Newport residents, Malool intended to stage a “pre-death funeral” in which he reached out to Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home to borrow a coffin. He intended to throw himself a funeral at the Newport Opera House, where people could donate money to town associations. While the plan did not come to fruition due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, he was still able to raise a considerable amount of funds.

Malool’s time, dedication, and generosity to the town of Newport can not be understated, but that did not dissuade him from treating everyone equally or becoming jaded. Newport residents recall fondly Malool coming to Coronis Market in his overalls to pick up old bread ends to feed his fish.

“He treated everyone exactly the same; it didn’t matter what your background was. He was just a very down-to-earth guy,” said Coronis.

Jay Lucas, a businessman and former Newport resident, said he had the ultimate respect for Malool. Lucas states that he became not only a close personal friend, but a key trusted partner in the development of Lucas’ Sunshine Initiative. Lucas notes that he will always remember, and keep this close in his heart, a saying Malool told him, “Jay, stay positive, stay positive!”

At this time, a memorial is set to be planned at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the Newport Opera House Association, PO Box 351 Newport, NH 03773, or the Library Arts Center, 58 N. Main St. Newport, NH 03773.

Roy and the Newport Opera House

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Newport Opera House Association, Chris Gardner says “Roy Malool was the wind in our sails when we needed it!”

In downtown Newport, the picturesque Opera House was built in 1886 and is the focal point of Main Street. On the first floor you’ll find two winding staircases that lead you up to the second floor which holds the stage that at one point was considered one of the largest and best performance venues north of Boston.

So much history has crossed the stage and is in the walls of the building from the John Philip Sousa Band to town meetings and countless performances in between. But, like many historic buildings, neglect and decay eventually took over the building and its once beautiful luster was lost. It soon became apparent that a lot of work was needed to restore this historic building.

In 1974, the Newport Opera House Association was formed to bring back the “golden days” of the Opera House. One of its biggest supporters was my dear friend and resident of Newport, Roy Malool. Really a man behind the scenes or should we say curtains, Roy always gave generously and liked to match any project that was a part of the Opera House Association. Long-time Executive Director of the Newport Opera House Charles H. Massey noted that once local kids were cast in the play but did not have stage shoes. Roy put up half the funds so that every kid would have stage shoes for the play - without telling anyone.

On another occasion, during the production of the Music Man at the Opera House, Roy had arranged for the Londonderry Marching Band to play in the grand finale, but no it did not end there; the band continued up the aisle, down the stairs, through the doors, and down Main Street towards the Common, like a real brass band parade and the whole community came out to see the spectacle.

The Newport Opera House Association will greatly miss Roy, as he shared their dream of bringing back the golden days. And, thanks in large part to Roy and his efforts, the golden days are here and once again in the future for the Newport Opera House!

Positive of Profile of the Week: Roy Malool

This week we are delighted to highlight our dear friend, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and devoted community leader, Roy Malool, as our positive profile of the week.

Truly a creator, Roy started his company, Roymal Inc., as one of the first to use water-based technology for printing on multiple surfaces. The company continues to test and design new products and be an innovative leader in sustainable coating chemistries for food packaging and other industrial applications. Roy was a true visionary and was tremendously excited by the sustainable, ‘green’ opportunities that Roymal could offer going forward.

Exceedingly generous as a philanthropist, Roy created a family foundation and consistently contributed funds from the foundation to support a wide variety of initiatives to help the town of Newport, lift it up and enable it to be its very best. From small to large projects, Roy was generous and helpful. Serving on multiple boards, Roy gave great and needed input into the community and guided many endeavors to fruition.

Roy was a great friend to his neighbors, and his sense of humor was one of his greatest qualities. He was the master of the ‘kazoo’ – giving out kazoos to kids, to business colleagues – and being the first to ‘break the ice’ in any social situation. As one of the first to encourage the creation of the Sunshine Initiative, Roy played a crucial role in spreading the positive message in Newport.

Roy will be greatly missed. The best way to honor his spirit is to generously give of yourself to the community and live a life of positivity and good will.

Quotes of the Week: A Positive and Lasting Legacy

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” - Dolly Parton, singer-songwriter

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.” - Steve Saint, pilot and author

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.” - Kalu Ndukwe Kalu, political scientist

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made...It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.” - Ray Bradbury, author

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, author


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