Graduates of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Class of 1976 gathered at the Porthole Restaurant in Lynn on May 12 for their 35th reunion.
Two graduates with Lynn connections, Phil Trapasso, who attended Lynn English High School, and Tom Donahue, a long-time Lynn resident, were among the guests.
“In my senior year at English I made a decision to go to Mass Maritime,” recalled Trapasso. “I had played football with my classmate, John Ryan, and he was going to Mass Maritime. At the time I knew very little about the school, but as it turns out it was a great decision to go there.”
Trapasso majored in Marine Engineering and had a 20-year career at sea, retiring in 1998. He currently repairs ships for a New Hampshire firm.
Trapasso, who is married and has four children, said he was excited to his former classmates.
“I can’t believe I haven’t seen some of these guys for 35 years and some of them haven’t changed a bit,” said Trapasso. “We have great memories of our college days. I would definitely recommend the academy to high school students.”
Donahue graduated from Winthrop High in 1972 before matriculating at MMA. He received a degree in Marine Engineering.
“I didn’t learn about the school until my senior year in high school,” said Donahue. “I loved the ocean and boating and I knew I wanted to travel. The more I learned about Mass Maritime, the more I wanted to go there. A lot of students from Winthrop were already at the academy and that inspired me.”
Donahue said while growing up in Winthrop he did a lot of sailing with his father, Bob, on Point Shirley and at the local yacht clubs.
“We were always out on the water on speed boats and fishing on Saturday mornings – we had a love of the sea,” said Donahue. “That’s how my mother [the late Anne Donahue] brought us up, with a love of the sea.”
Donahue said the reunion rekindled great memories of his days at the academy.
“This reunion was about a brotherhood that we’ve had for 35 years as former students at Massachusetts Maritime Academy,” said Donahue.
He hopes high school students will consider Mass Maritime.
“We want to get a message to high school students that if you love the sea, take a look at attending Mass Maritime. The school will open up so many doors for you. You’re going to get the military discipline and you’re going to travel world wide.”
Following his graduation from MMA, Donahue worked as an engineer on merchant ships for eight years and traveled to South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
Following his marine career, Donahue and his wife bought a house in Lynn and he took a position at National Grid where he is currently an account executive. They have two sons, Tom Jr., 27, and, James, 25, both graduates of Lynn English.
Donahue is looking forward to the next reunion.
“It was a great time. It was like being at the family dinner table with long-lost relatives that I haven’t seen in 35 years. As soon as you see the faces – we were so close when we were at Mass Maritime. We use to go out on ships for training cruises throughout Europe and South America for two months at a time. It was a real kinship and a great life.”
(Massachusetts Maritime Academy, located in Buzzards Bay, offers Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. The Website is www.maritime. edu.)