Bill Bowman and Jack Trabucco team up with Wellesley Police.
It was 1986, and Jack Trabucco heard screams and whispers indicating that the General Motors factory in Framingham where he worked was closing. âI started looking for a job right away,â remembers Trabucco. The next day he made a call.
He had been a General Motors security staff for three years. âA policeman from Natick told me that Wellesley College had an opening. So he dropped a dime.
At the campus police station, Bill Bowman answered the call. It would change their life forever.
Trabucco interviewed for the job and got it. On March 8, 2021, 35 years later, he retired.
Bowman is still on campus, 46 and over. Eighty-one years in between! Bowman had initiated criminal justice in Northeastern. Thanks to the school’s cooperative plan, he ended up with the police position at Wellesley College. âAnd I never left,â he said. âI didn’t think this would be my life when I was 19.â
Bowman and Trabucco are both 66 years old. When they first spoke on the phone, there was a smell of familiarity. Their last names resonated with each other. But why? What was the connection, if any?
Then he clicked. It turned out they had been high school basketball rivals, Bowman to Framingham South, Trabucco to Natick. They began to remember. Trabucco described the game when Bowman landed the winning shot against Natick. Did Bowman remember? Oh yes. âThere are three seconds left, 16 feet,â he said.
Any deferred competition between them quickly dissolved at Wellesley College. They wore uniforms, badges and guns. They have become partners, primarily responsible for protecting the well-being of students. They often dated for dispatch calls.
He was doomed that Bowman and Trabucco would become lifelong friends. They played golf, skied, and traveled together to remote places; they were in the stands at Army-Navy December football games, which were usually windy and rough. They took a family vacation together.
They didn’t slow down much. Trabucco is inspired by a brief philosophy: âLife is too short. Remember how to have fun every day. “
For Bowman, fun is not guaranteed. The vicissitudes of life took care of that.
Five years ago, she was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Recently, COVID-19 also gave it a peek. CLL occurs when abnormal B cells press against healthy cells. âI thought I had Lyme disease,â he said. “I was in Cape Town and felt sick like a dog.”
He returned home to Hopkinton, didn’t feel better, spent a few days at MetroWest Medical Center in Natick, and was sent to Tufts Medical Center in Boston. âI had an immunity problem,â Bowman said. Even now, he may need more treatment. There are other medical problems that plague him. He knows how to take a punch and how to block.
After his COVID-19 failure, Bowman resumed his shifts at college, patrolling over 200 acres like he was the healthiest guy in the world. No complaints. All smiles.
He and Trabucco never took the college’s natural beauty for granted. âIt’s so well maintained, so picturesque,â ââTrabucco said. âWhen the flowers are in bloom, it’s breathtaking. I thought the grass in Fenway Park was green!
Bowman even took classes (they were free) in college. “I would be the only guy in the class, me and 15, 16 women.”
The reality is that Bowman and Trabucco were campus cops with big responsibilities at one of the most prestigious women’s colleges in the country. Calls to dispatch the police set everything in motion. A student had a bad fall; a complaint for theft in a dormitory. Alcohol abuse is problematic. Sometimes an ambulance is called to the scene. Heavy drinking is not uncommon on all campuses. âEspecially with freshmen away from home for the first time,â Trabucco said.
Weekend parties, with men on campus, can be awkward, Bowman pointed out.
âWe’re a small group of 10 or 12 officers and we have 4,000 people on campus. We want them to feel comfortable calling the police. There are two women in the force.
There have also been calls for animals in distress, especially on Lake Waban which is part of the college’s charm. Usually, in the event of animal distress, city firefighters are called upon to work with campus police. âWe’ve had a lot of dog rescues on the lake,â Trabucco said. “They came back to the rope.”
Some dogs, swimming too far, have been killed by swans who feel their space has been invaded. Once a deer was rescued on a frozen Waban Lake. The deer’s hooves were stuck to the ice.
Before landing at Wellesley, Trabucco had other ideas. “I had planned to be a teacher specializing in education.” But a neighbor, a policeman from Natick, Ted Kerrissey, made him think about police work. âIt sounded interesting. Ted had a great influence on me, âsaid Trabucco.
Bowman was already in Wellesley when he was courted by the Framingham Police Department. âThey wanted me to come for an interview. I told them I was going to stay put. He had settled in Wellesley. I liked the work, I liked the people.
âThe faculty here is second to none, we all look out for each other,â said Trabucco, an excellent three-sport athlete and college scholarship football player. âWe are a full community. It has been a privilege to work here.
Kathy Hagerstrom, a Wayland resident, has worked at the college for 30 years, 18 of which were as a basketball coach. She has seen Bowman and Trabucco do their jobs on numerous occasions. âThey are competent, student-centered communicators,â she said. âKind and caring. They would go out of their way to help beyond the demands and expectations of the job.
âEighty-one. I’m not sure we’ll ever see things like that here again. Hagerstrom is currently deputy director of the college’s Keohane Sports Center.
Trabucco met his future wife, Carrie, on campus. In fact, she was his supervisor for a time, after being a campus patrol officer and later a sergeant. Their daughter Kelsey graduated from Wellesley in 2016. One son, Sam, graduated from MIT. Twice married Bowman has four sons.
Ironically, Trabucco and Bowman grew up minutes from the Wellesley campus – âI could have walked there from Natick,â Trabucco said – but neither had ever checked out the place, not even a drive-through.
Although their personalities may be different, their friendship is limitless. Bowman, calm and soft-spoken, Trabucco lively. Always. âJack’s energy is contagious. He’s driven by life, âBowman said.
Obviously, they share the same attitude, that life is to be lived to the fullest, obstacles removed. Bowman’s leukemia? âI don’t let that slow me down. I’m all going! Go! Go! I am not standing still. His late father was like that. Bowman Sr. had been a member of the Cape Cod Ski Club. At 80, he wanted to ski again. So he and his son flew to Switzerland and hit the slopes. Speaking of flying, young Bowman learned to fly at Marlborough Airport and got a pilot’s license.
Bowman and Trabucco have long been at the stage where one begins a sentence and the other ends. They shared their lives and developed many common grounds. That’s what friends do.
âAnd what a friendship it has been,â Bowman said. Good men, good cops, in the right place.
Contact Lenny Megliola at [email protected] Follow @lennymegs on Twitter.