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April 27, 2014

Ageless 'Rudy's Tigers' continue fitness tradition

HAVERHILL — They call themselves Rudy’s Tigers — a relentless, never-say-die coterie of fitness buffs who are putting old age to shame.

You’ll find them most any day at the Greater Haverhill YMCA working the treadmills and elliptical machines.

Talk to 90-year-old Ted DeRoche, the patriarch of them all, and he’ll be the first to admit that exercise is a way of life. Doing it with others — your best friends — makes it far more enjoyable.

Ted spent his working years at AT&T Technologies and his non-working years visiting a wife with Alzheimer’s for eight years. Only when he climbed mountains did he hand over the visitation rights to another member of his family. They came anyway so Ted could maintain a life of fitness.

The “professor”, as he’s known, is Dr. Gene Grillo, another AT&T product who spent 35 years teaching physiology and biochemistry at Boston University. He was a city councilor in Haverhill for 16 years. Few have loved this city more than him.

Then there’s Morris Piccolo. You may know him as the city’s realtor emeritus. Despite his 84 years, he’s still selling houses, bouncing up and down the streets with many a community interest, and dodging one physical impediment after another.

The “baby” at 76 is Bernie Clohisy, the self-anointed sergeant-at-arms keeping the group in order. He, too, is an AT&T retiree and has kept Haverhill Gazette readers informed over the years with his nostalgic snippets.

They are all protégés of Rudy Valenzi, a former fitness director at the YMCA, who started this group 45 years ago. At one time, they numbered 300. Now, there are four originals remaining. We were joined for lunch by another Tiger named Danny Piccolo, who hopped aboard two years later.

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