Rick Makin Endowed Scholarship at Monmouth U.

I’m going to say a bunch of really nice things about my Pop, but first, can I get an amen that God did a miracle in keeping my Mom alive. Thank God for Type O Positive blood and feisty Sicilian genes!

And thank you all for your interest in this fundraiser that remembers and honors my father with the Rick Makin Endowed Scholarship for Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University . Pop died on Dec. 27, 2020, in the ICU at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune from complications of COVID. Each year in loving memory, $5,000 will go to five students studying Pop's passions: Journalism, Music, Theatre, History, and Literature. 

My family and I adored Pop, and those of you who knew him as a wonderfully kind, colorfully eccentric character, adored him too. I prefer not to think that my father died. I prefer to think that he lived, and that his life was sweet, beautiful, meaningful and fun. During those times peace of mind is hard to find because of his passing, I remember what he would say when I would ask, “How are ya’, Pop?” He’d say, “I’m delightful.” You sure are delightful, Pop!

Rick Makin is a legend, a giant as Gov. Phil Murphy described when he chatted with Mom five days after Pop’s death and then honored him on network television . Pop is a legend at the Asbury Park Press, where he worked for 38 years, mainly as features and editorial page editor. Colleagues referred to Pop as one of the long-term talented, creative, committed staffers who helped improve the paper year after year. Another recalled her first assignment from a gentle guiding editor with a love of show biz as deep as her own. They thought the world of Pop. They will miss him.

But they also will remember him suddenly breaking into song and dance in the newsroom with fellow editor and his best friend of more than 50 years, Pete Donoghue. Nothing like a little Broadway to keep Pop from bashing in the pagination system with a baseball bat or setting it on fire. Generations of Asbury Park Press reporters will recall Pop being the institutional memory of one of the East Coast’s finest newspapers. And oh those plaid pants!

Pop was a renaissance man, a song and dance man, and a legend in Jersey Shore community theater. Dozens of roles included Capt. Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” The Narrator in “Our Town,” and F.D.R. in “Annie,” his favorite because he was in the show with my daughter Rebekah.

And Pop was a legend at home. When Mom met Pop in Asbury Park in 1974, he was involved in Red Oak Music Theatre. Having just played Beauregard in “Mame,” Pop recruited Mom to be in his next shows: “Hello Dolly,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Gypsy, “La Boheme,” and “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” which he also directed. They were having a ball, got married, and then Pop adopted my sister, Melissa, and me. We took his great name, which has served us very well in business, much like it did our Grandpa George.

After seeing Pop in a show, one of the top editors at the Asbury Park Press told him he should take his big singing voice to Broadway. But rather than continue to do more shows, Pop put the community theater career he loved so much on hold to spend more time with his new family, including coaching my Little League team. That was right around the time of the 1976 comedy, “The Bad News Bears,” which was hysterical for any coach to see. Pop howled, and the movie made his coaching even more fun.

Once Melissa graduated from college, Pop went back into community theater, as well as civic choruses and church choirs, including Monmouth Civic Chorus, Highlands Singers, Tower Hill Presbyterian Church, and Keyport Senior Center Choir, which he directed. He then played some of his greatest roles, such as the Narrator in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” which was more than 50 years after he played the part at Point Pleasant Beach High School in his first of those many roles.

All the while, Mom & Pop would discuss their mutual passions — music, theater, literature, film, art, and history — until the wee hours. 44 years they shared together, like two precious peas in a cultural pod.

Our home was immersed in that culture:
  * Playing the board game Masterpiece themed to classic paintings and sculpture
  * Going to movies, concerts, Broadway shows, art exhibits, Colonial Williamsburg, exotic ethnic restaurants, Hawaii
  * Hearing Pop recite long passages of Shakespeare, Kipling, Robert Frost, and history.

During a three-generation trip to Williamsburg, Pop was our family’s own tour guide. While Mom and I got a kick out of the historical narration, my kids gave their Papa the nickname, 18 Bladdie Blah. But as they got older, they learned to love Papa’s love of history too.

When my son Matthew was a wee lad, he saw Papa in “Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” During and after the curtain call, Matt stood up in his seat, and shouted, “More show! More show!” Matt wound up following in Papa’s footsteps and has a theater degree from Montclair State, while I followed in Pop’s entertainment journalism footsteps.

Pop was my mentor. As a young movie buff, I would ask him if he had seen a film, and we’d have a long conversation about it. Those chats shaped the way I write about entertainment.

When I first was writing my Makin Waves music column, Pop would edit my draft in red pencil. I’d make the changes, then show him the second draft. Eventually, the red edits vanished because l learned more from Pop on those weekly evenings in my parents’ living room than from my four-year journalism degree. 

Pop was a very entertaining fella, but what entertained me most was how every hour or so, he would sing a snippet of song to punctuate a sentence, make a point, or once again, share some culture. He was like a musical Old Faithful. Sometimes, we’d even get an old soft shoe.

Melissa and I and our kids loved that Papa could be silly and fun. The older he got, the less seriously he took life with a childlike joy that was contagious. A large part of that joy came from the unshakable faith he shared with Mom, and that inspired Melissa and me. I know he’s singing for Jesus now in the universe’s greatest choir.

They say legends never die! Well, Pop, I hope you stay forever young!

On behalf of our family, I thank you again for remembering our beloved Papa and supporting the Rick Makin Endowed Scholarship for Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University! All funds raised will go directly to the university.

Bob Makin 
  • Peter Gotch
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Gary Shaffer
    • $10 
    • 2 mos
  • Robert Foxworth
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Helen McNamara
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
  • Todd Bates
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
See all

Fundraising team (2)

Bob Makin
Raised $1,395 from 26 donations
East Brunswick Township, NJ
Melissa Sannelli
Team member
Raised $950 from 8 donations

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