Fredrick Michael Ferriter of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, passed away on December 29, 2022 at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
The third son of Robert P. and Jeanne L. (Roy) Ferriter, Michael was born in 1951 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His family moved to South Deerfield in 1960 for the adventures of country life. Mike attended grammar school in South Deerfield, graduating from Frontier Regional High School with letters in baseball, track and field, and cross country. He was passionate about running and became a state champion cross country runner.
Mike took classes at UMass Amherst. He later met Judy Ray at his brother John’s wedding, and they eventually married on the beach on Cape Cod in the summer of 1972. They had two children, Jason and Leah.
A construction accident in 1979 nearly ended Mike’s life and left him paralyzed. After a herculean battle back, and as a quadriplegic, he returned to school attending Boston College, earning his master’s degree in Social Work determined to help those also in wheelchairs. With his guiding principle of “someone who’s been there can show the way,” Mike entered private practice to counsel and mentor those with recent spinal cord injuries, helping them cope with their new reality.
Mike ultimately co-founded and chaired the Greater Boston Chapter of United Spinal Association. Additionally, he developed the Peer Mentor Program for the United Spinal Association which laid the groundwork for their 30 years of changing lives, one visit at a time, one person at a time. The Peer Mentor Program went on to receive national recognition and an award from the Christopher Reeve Foundation.
Mike worked with both the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Massachusetts state government to craft legislation that advanced the rights and care of people with disabilities. He also partnered with and supported charitable foundations that funded research into the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
Mike partook fully in life, cheering on New England’s sports teams, especially BC’s athletes. He was an avid birdwatcher, talented watercolor artist, and understated tattoo collector. He was serious about Native American culture. The music at local pow-wows freed and allowed him to dance in his chair. Discussing politics was another high point. Mike could say more with one eye roll than another’s hour harangue.
Predeceased by his parents and eldest brother Robert, Michael leaves his children, Jason and Leah, sister Kate, brother John, longtime caregiver Donna and many, many admiring and thankful colleagues, associates, friends and family. He will be deeply missed by all who remember and admire his bravery and many accomplishments.
Calling Hours, at Carr Funeral Home, 24 Hill St., Whitinsville, will be Saturday, January 7, 2023, from 1-3:30PM, followed by a time to share memories and stories. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Greater Boston Chapter of United Spinal Association.