Perry Farrell: Late mentor Neville Britto made a world of difference

Perry Farrell: Late mentor Neville Britto made a world of difference


Perry Farrell: Late mentor Neville Britto made a world of difference


Neville Britto

Neville Britto

My mentor died last week.

I know it was from a broken heart.

Neville Britto changed my life. He was my English teacher, homeroom teacher and mentor while I was at Sacred Heart Junior High in Saginaw. My interest in writing was spurred by him. He was always impeccably dressed and because it was a Catholic school he had the right to discipline us in his own way.

One time he caught me talking and he said “Perry come here.’’ He had a cane with tape on the tip to make it hurt more. That was the first and last time he hit me.

While I was roaming the halls of Sacred Heart, Britto met Leatha Herd. She worked at the school. They would marry and for 43 years she was the love of his life.

When she recently died, he could never get over her loss. Last week, I was told he died of a heart attack.

The last time I saw him was at the family hour for Leatha. He hugged me and had me come up and stand next to him while he hovered over her body. Her spirit still lived inside him. She was his soulmate.

On Aug. 29 at 6:04 a.m. he wrote on his Facebook page:

“Today is a day that is both nostalgic and sad. Nostalgic because I begin my 53 years of teaching and 43 of those were shared with my beloved wife. Sad because for 43 years each morning before I left for work I always write a love note to my wife telling her how much I loved her and missed her while I was away at work. I always wished her a happy day and I looked forward to coming home to her at the end of the day. Today memories and sadness fill my heart and soul. I miss her and promise myself to keep on writing the notes to her because I know she is with me in spirit and she expects me to continue doing this as my token of love for her. I miss you Leatha and each day will never be the same, but the memories of the years will be my consolation and spirit to go on living like you would want me. I will always love you and will continue to write the love notes each day as tribute of my love and devotion to you. I miss you.’’

I told him to hang in there after I read that and told him I loved him. He just missed her too much and wanted to be with her.

Mr. Britto was from Bangalore, India. He studied English and Economics at St. Francis de Sales. He described himself as laid back and cheerful. He was all that and more.

Sacred Heart closed and he continued teaching English at Delta College and was a pillar of the community. He helped so many, counseled so many, gave often of himself to so many. He was a man among men.

I always gave him credit for what little success I’ve had in journalism. He said it was what was inside me. No, it was how he carried himself and what he demanded of me that kept me on the straight and narrow. He made me want to be a better person.

He has joined his soulmate and they are together. I’m happy that he is with her, but sadly he isn’t around to talk to. Mrs. Britto, before she passed, told her daughter that she was tired and ready. That was probably difficult knowing how much her husband would miss her.

His heart was broken and the only way it would heal was to be with her.

Rest in Peace Mr. Britto; you deserve it. Just know you made a world of difference in a lot of people’s lives.

Especially mine.


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