By Lily Belcher
Lorraine Boyce devoted her life to God and the Catholic Church after a lifetime of being uncommitted to a single denomination. She finally heard God’s voice calling her to Nativity Catholic Church through neighbors Deacon Robert Harris and his wife, Judy Harris.
Boyce had spent her career in the media center of Seffner Elementary School next to the physical education office and teacher Tony Saladino Jr. Boyce knows Saladino as a co-worker and friend, and Hillsborough County knows him as the founder of the Saladino Tournament and namesake of Bertha and Tony Saladino Park in Brandon.
“We spent a lot of time together during breaks, … But, when we retired, we lost contact,” said Saladino.
When Boyce’s son died, a mass was held at Nativity in his honor. She fell in love with the church and started attending weekly masses with the Harrises. She devoted herself to learning more about God and, with the help of Father John Tapp, was formally accepted into the church on September 11, 2018.
On her way home from church with Robert and Judy one day, they passed Bertha and Tony Saladino Park and Boyce mentioned she had gone to the original dedication.
“I think one of the highlights of teaching with Tony was when the county decided to honor him and his life, as you know, with the dedication with the Saladino Park, and I was there,” said Boyce. “They let us off of school long enough to go down there and see the dedication.”
Robert, who knew Saladino as a parishioner at Nativity, offered to reconnect them.
Both are now widowed and living alone but use their time to chat over lunches or on the phone. They share stories of their families and their shared love for Hillsborough County and education. Saladino spends much of his time watching his grandson, Tony Saladino IV, play baseball in junior college and Boyce spends her time with the Harrises and staying in touch with her daughter, who is currently in Central America.
“I think it’s a great privilege to have known him and I’m glad, and I want to always be in touch with Tony,” she said, “because I think the world of him.”
There’s an old saying that it takes a long time to grow an old friend, but Boyce and Saladino took another route: they waited a long time to make a new friend.