Retired nurse, volunteer extraordinaire and friend to all
Published January 14, 2021
NORTH READING — Gloria R. Mastro, 88, of North Reading, was called to heaven on January 7, 2021 after the heart that she gave so selflessly to others, stopped beating.
Born in Berlin, New Hampshire on February 17, 1932 to Louis and Lydia (Drouin) Roy, Gloria attended boarding school at St. Mary’s Academy in Island Pond, Vermont, graduating in 1949. She later attended the Hôpital Saint Louis Nursing Program in Berlin and graduated from Boston College School of Nursing in 1955. While at BC, Gloria worked at Mass General Hospital, New England Medical Center and Camp Pemigewasset for Boys during her summer breaks.
After graduation she returned to Hôpital Saint Louis to teach and worked at several New England hospitals. She found her calling serving the elderly, working for many years at the Green Grove Nursing Home in North Reading and Mary Immaculate Nursing and Restorative Center in Lawrence as Nursing Supervisor. Following retirement, she worked for many years with the disabled at the John T. Berry and Hogan Rehabilitation Centers.
Gloria and her husband John moved to North Reading in 1957 and relished in raising their children in a quintessential New England neighborhood. Gloria’s Central Street neighbors became beloved, lifelong friends that made being a full-time working mother of five children possible, and to whom she was the epitome of a good neighbor. A mother like no other to her five children, she fervently supported us and instilled in us the importance of helping others, and continuously and tirelessly showed us how it was done. As her children, we remain in awe of the impact our Mom made on everyone she met, in her very own, very unique way. Young or old, once Gloria came into your life, you had a remarkable friend.
She became an active member of the community in the 1960s, becoming a scout leader and dedicating time to her children’s various activities and serving as nurse at their Boy Scout and Campfire Girl camps in Harold Parker State Forest. In the 1970s she became an active member of the NRHS Athletic Boosters, coordinating seasonal sports award banquets and as a fixture behind the concession table at countless sporting events. Through the years she made many dear and lifelong friends on the ball fields, basketball courts and hockey rinks of North Reading sports as well as through many other town activities.
After her own children were grown, Gloria spent years volunteering as a coach for Destination Imagination, helping students develop problem-solving skills, and served as a substitute nurse in the North Reading Public Schools. Gloria could also be found wearing a stethoscope and performing wellness “check-ups” on the stuffed animals that children brought to the town’s Annual Teddy Bear Picnic.
An active member of St. Theresa’s Parish, Gloria joined the Women’s Activity Committee, helping chair the Annual Harvest Bazaar and setting up refreshments in the church hall for weekly bingo and spaghetti suppers. Gloria served as a religious education teacher for many years, conducting CCD classes in her home for her own children and countless others who remember her fondly. She got tremendous enjoyment from her years serving as an original member of the Fourth of July Committee, and could often be seen dressed as Betsy Ross, waving from the bed of an antique pick-up truck in the town’s annual Memorial Day parade. In 1994, the committee recognized her as North Reading Citizen of the Year.
In 2010, she was inducted into the NRHS Hornet Hall of Fame for her decades of service with the Athletic Boosters. In 2018 the North Reading Community Action Team recognized her as a Community Champion for her involvement with the Community Impact Team, a partnership between First Responders, Youth and Elder Services and other local groups that that work to identify negative quality of life factors for community members of all ages, and implements solutions that solve the underlying problems.
As a staunch advocate for the elderly, Gloria became a member of Mystic Valley Elder Services, where she served as an Ombudsman, and on the North Reading Council on Aging, where she volunteered countless hours at the senior center named for her good friend, the late Edith O’Leary.
She found great pleasure in her years of involvement with the North Reading Historical and Antiquarian Society. In the fall, she looked forward to baking pies with NRHS students and kitchen staff to sell at the Annual Apple Festival where, dressed the part, she proudly welcomed visitors to the historic Rev. Daniel Putnam House. She remained an active Board Member, attending monthly meetings via Zoom throughout the pandemic and advocating to resurrect the Boston Post Cane tradition in town.
Gloria loved the Town of North Reading and eagerly awaited Thursday deliveries of the town paper, the North Reading Transcript. When reading articles that interested her, she wouldn’t hesitate to ask how she could help, or write a letter to the editor to voice her support (or opposition). She appeared in the paper many times herself over the years, often in the company of her close-knit group of friends who enjoyed the decades-old tradition of spending St. Patrick’s Day watching Irish step-dancers perform at the Horseshoe Grille, a welcomed guest of the Lee family.
Once she knew your birthday or interests, she never forgot and would send cards, notes, thoughtful gifts or newspaper clippings that she thought you would like. There are likely hundreds of homes in North Reading that have received one of Gloria’s envelopes over the years. She would not hesitate to call people in town, whether she knew them personally or not, to ask for help with a town event, or to connect people who she thought could help each other. We can’t express our appreciation enough for everyone in town who simply “couldn’t say no to Gloria.” At the time of her passing her we received countless messages of remembrance from people young and old about how she touched their lives, with her caring, thoughtful and selfless nature as well as the impact she made on them and the community.
Gloria remained in her Central Street home for 55 years until she moved across town to the home she loved on Martin’s Pond. There she enjoyed watching the amazing sunsets from her living room and quickly became the matriarch of the new neighborhood she shared with her daughter Paula. Together they planned regular neighborhood events and birthday celebrations. Gloria will be sorely missed by all her former neighbors and lifelong friends, some of whom she met upon her initial move to North Reading and remained close with throughout their lives.
Gloria was predeceased by her husband of 49 years, John Mastro, and brothers, Dr. Richard Roy and David Roy. She leaves behind her siblings, Donald, Louise and Maurice Roy; her children, Peter Beck and his wife Bernadette of Wakefield, Anne Valade and her late husband Jay of North Reading, Paula Mastro of North Reading, Andrea Kelly and her husband Kevin of Wilmington, and John Mastro and his wife Joan of Methuen. She was also the beloved “Memere” to her grandchildren, Jennifer and Nathan Valade of North Reading, Deirdre, Tighe and Eadeen Beck of Wakefield, Matthew Corrieri of North Reading, Olivia and Coleman Kelly of Wilmington, and Joseph and Jacqueline Mastro of Methuen, whom she all loved a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Gloria was a registered organ donor and in the last selfless act of her life on earth, she registered with the Anatomical Gift Program at The University of Massachusetts Medical School, to whom she bequeathed her physical body to be used in medical education. Gloria was glad to know that when the time came, her remains would be used by local medical students and often joked that it might be her only chance to get into Harvard; just one example of her amazing sense of humor. She will be sorely and endlessly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Calling hours will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 21 from the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow Street, North Reading. Social distancing and mask wearing protocols will be followed by all guests while passing through the funeral home. A virtual guestbook may be signed at: www.croswellfuneralhome.com.
A memorial Mass will be held on Friday, January 22 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, 63 Winter Street, North Reading. COVID-19 protocols will be in place.
In lieu of flower donations may be made to The Gloria Mastro Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Reading Cooperative Bank, 170 Park Street, North Reading, MA 01864. This scholarship will be awarded annually to community-minded students from North Reading who pursue a career in the medical field.