• August 23, 2021

When the Sun Returns to Lowell: ‘I Don’t Want to Be in Lowell’

In August 2010, Lowell Sun newspaper reporters published an article headlined “Lowell Sun: When the sun comes back to Lowell.”

The Lowell Sun’s article included a story about a man who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, after he was hospitalized with the disease and told that his ALS would be over.

A month later, the man, John D. Mottola, died from the disease.

The Sun’s obituary, which followed Mottana’s death, described him as an “active man, a good family man, who loved Lowell and was committed to finding a cure.”

Mottola had just retired from the Lowell Police Department, but the newspaper story made him seem like a man of a certain age who just might have a terminal illness, according to Michael J. Haines, the former president of the Lowell Community College.

The Lowell Community Association, which is dedicated to keeping the local community safe, called the Lowell Sun article a “sad” one that made people “uncomfortable” and “feel like we were doing something wrong,” Hainest said.

Mottana had been a member of the college since the 1980s, Hainests said, but it was his passing that led the college to reopen the Mottaviles Memorial Hall, which was the only building on campus dedicated to the man and his family.

“They’ve really tried to make sure people understand that they’re going to miss him,” Hains said.

“They’ve been doing all they can to try to help people.”

In February 2018, Mottamoides funeral was held in Lowell.

The Lowell Star newspaper said Mottala’s family had requested that the funeral be held in downtown Lowell because they thought the location was “more appropriate.”

“The city of Lowell, at the request of the Mourners and their families, chose to provide a funeral in downtown and it was an honor to do so,” Lowell Mayor Gary Siegel said in a statement.

“Our community has been greatly impacted by the loss of this wonderful man and the outpouring of support we have received.”

Haines said Mowltas funeral, as well as those of other members of the family, is not only being held downtown, but also in nearby churches and schools.

“The people who are doing this have their own issues and struggles,” Hainedes said.

“There are also other members who are not as well-known as these folks, but they’re doing what they do.”

Hains said that the memorials are not just about a funeral for Mottamos son, but that it also honors the family’s love of Lowell.

“I don’t think there’s a better way to say this,” Hainees said of the memorial.

“It’s a way of honoring and showing the community that the family was not just there for the funeral of the deceased, but was there for him and his children.”