SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — He stood guard at the corner of County and Buffinton Streets.
Jacob Raposa – wearing a yellow vest with a police scanner in hand – was the unofficial watchman of Somerset.
“Every community has a person that shines, and he was our person,” Kara Magoni, of Somerset, said.
Raposa’s watch came to an end early Sunday morning when he died unexpectedly in his sleep from a seizure. Now the community is coming together to honor his memory.
“If I could say one thing about Jacob, it would be that some people live a lifetime of many years, and Jacob lived a lifetime of service in 27 years,” Annie Prescott, of Somerset, said. “What a life well lived.”
Somerset Town Clerk Dolores Berge said his love of serving Somerset was a calling from a young age.
“When he was young, his grandfather, who was retired from the fire department, started taking him to water breaks and fires,” Berge explained. “I would have to say that’s where it came from.”
Somerset police officers eventually designated Raposa, who had autism, “Bike 1,” because he was one of the first people to respond to a scene and was always willing to lend a hand.
“When I first became chief, he came up to ask me if he could remain ‘Bike 1,’ which was his call sign because he always carried a scanner with him,” Somerset Police Chief George McNeil recalled.
McNeil said even when Raposa wasn’t on duty, he still found a way to be present in the community.
“Whenever a police officer had a birthday, he would buy them a cake,” McNeil said. “He would deliver the cake to their home or the police station. He was just that thoughtful of a person.”
In the days since his passing, the community has rallied together to remember him.
In Raposa’s memory, Liz Cardoso began selling purple magnets and ribbons around town to spread awareness for seizure disorders. The fundraiser has helped raise thousands of dollars for Raposa’s family.
“The community really showed up with picking up the magnets and handing over money,” Magoni said. “It wasn’t about the purchasing of it, it was about showing up and saying we loved him and to support the cause.”
Raposa will be laid to rest Saturday morning after a funeral mass at St. John of God Church on Brayton Ave. in Somerset. Before his burial, the community is expected to line County Street for a procession in Raposa’s honor.