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- Previous Leominster Legends
Previous Leominster Legends
John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed)
John was born on September 26, 1774 in Leominster. He was an American pioneer nurseryman, who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and present-day Ontario, as well as the northern counties of present-day West Virginia.
He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples. He was also a missionary for The New Church and the inspiration for many museums and historical sites.
The popular image is of Johnny Appleseed spreading apple seeds randomly everywhere he went. In fact, he planted nurseries rather than orchards, built fences around them to protect them from livestock, left the nurseries in the care of a neighbor who sold trees on shares, and returned every year or two to tend the nursery.
John passed away on March 18, 1845.
Diego was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 14, 1995. He moved with his family to Leominster, Massachusetts when he was five years old. He began his soccer career playing for Leominster Youth Soccer.
He joined Austin FC after spending the entirety of his career with the New England Revolution (2011-2020), where he played 265 league games (189 starts), tying a Revolution record for appearances while scoring 53 goals (second highest in Revolution history) and tallying 45 assists.
Diego became the youngest player to reach 100 appearances in MLS history on June 13, 2015 (20 years and 119- days-old) in a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire, and the youngest player to score 25 goals in the League after scoring in a 1-0 road win against the Philadelphia Union on August 29, 2015 at the age of 20 years and 196 days. He has also registered 15 appearances (12 starts) in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup between 2012-19.
The experienced midfielder signed as a Homegrown Player with New England at the age of 15 in 2010 and debuted professionally in MLS as a 16-year-old the following year, making a substitute appearance against Chivas USA on August 6, 2011. Diego made four (4) appearances (two (2) starts) with the U-20 Uruguay National Team during the 2015 Campeonato Sudamericano Sub-20, helping the country qualify for its 12th U-20 FIFA World Cup.
Neddy moved to Leominster from New York City, where she volunteered at a housing project, in the 1980s. She accepted her current position as Executive Director of the Spanish American Center in 1986.
The Spanish American Center was established in 1966, and was the fruit of discussions between the city’s Catholic clergy and its growing Hispanic population. She oversees all of the Center’s programs including, domestic violence advocacy, English classes, a food pantry, elder care, legal assistance, voter registration, children’s programming and a comprehensive summer meals program for students.
In addition to food distribution, the agency helps clients who need housing, employment, health care, legal advice and general advocacy. Despite its name, Latimer stressed that the Spanish American Center serves everyone, regardless of their ethnic background.
Neddy is thankful for the many volunteers and small staff, which allows the Center to serve more than 15,000 people a year.
“I’m passionate about what I do,” she said. “We are blessed,” she added. “It’s a community we love and they love us as well.”
Alex was born in Leominster and started working in professional kitchens at age 12. He competed in national-level culinary competitions by his senior year of high school, and won a full scholarship to the Culinary Institute of America, after which he completed an externship at Clio in Boston, where he later returned as its first pastry chef following a stretch at the Federalist.
In 2005, Alex was approached by Grant Achatz to become the pastry chef at his now-acclaimed Alinea in Chicago. Two years later, he moved to New York to be the pastry chef for another leading molecular gastronomy chef Wylie Dufresne at wd-50.
With earnest dedication to doing the unexpected, Alex pivoted away from pastry and these styles of cooking, choosing instead to adopt Mexican cuisine as a perpetual source of creative inspiration. He is the Chef and Co-Owner of the Empellón restaurant group based in New York City.
Alex opened Empellón Taqueria in Manhattan’s West Village and went on to open four more restaurants under the Empellón brand. His approach to cooking focuses on opposing the reductive way people often view different cuisines.
Alex triumphed on Iron Chef America in 2008 and was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2013. He has since received multiple James Beard Foundation Awards nominations, including one for his 2015 book Tacos: Recipes and Provocations.