One man's legacy: All about devotion
Brian Leahy had a perfect day last Saturday. He spent the morning at Greenhill's Bakery. Brian had attended the meeting at the Murphy Community Center earlier in the week and was anxious to round up support from local officials to make the Murphy Community Center on Worrell Street a more welcoming place for the kids in the neighborhood.
He stopped in to Gerard's, went to Mass and Confession at Saint Ann Church, and then had dinner at Sonny's with his wife Evie and best friend Billy Fitzgerald and his wife Susan.
After returning home and going to bed, Brian came down with an excruciating headache and became violently ill. An ambulance was called and he was taken to Carney Hospital, where he died of an aneurysm.
Brian loved Dorchester. He took great offense when he bumped into old friends who asked, "You're still in Dorchester?" Although he loved to travel, the truth was that there was no place in the world that he loved more than Dorchester, the place where he lived for his entire 64 years.
Brian had served at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority since 1986, first as the Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs, and beginning in 1994 as the Director of the MWRA Retirement System. He was also an elected member of the MWRA Retirement Board.
Prior to the MWRA, Leahy served as the Executive Director of the State-Boston Retirement System and Special Assistant to Mayor Kevin H. White for Intergovernmental Affairs. He took great pride in his work at City Hall. He helped many people in the city, whether it was helping them decipher retirement paperwork, or assisting neighborhood kids with their summer job search.
For a great number of years, he chaired the Dorchester Day Road Race and Tenean Beach Race Days. Just last year he and his daughter Kaitlyn Brohel resurrected this fun family day in loving memory of Michael "Porpar" Leahy, Brian's younger brother who passed away last year. For the last ten years he was a member of the L Street Brownies, taking his last polar plunge just ten days before his passing.
Mr. Leahy was a star-football player at Cathedral High School. He attended Boston College on a football scholarship before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. Leahy continued playing football for the USMC in Quantico, VA, and then locally for the Lion's Club Football Club, the Boston Wolfhounds and Eddie's Giants. He was instrumental in the formation of the Boston State College (now UMASS-Boston) football program and played in the Garvey Park Flag Football league well past his fortieth birthday.
Leahy always wanted to keep his pulse on the game of football. For years he officiated high school games in Boston. After a hip replacement in 2003, he took great pleasure in announcing the games at White Stadium. He livened up the breaks in play time by playing marching band music. Though he loved this post, he stepped down when he was asked to swap his John Philip Souza CDs for rap music. He refused to play music that disrespected police officers and encourages violence against women.
He was a man of principles who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed. He worked hard on many political campaigns and local initiatives.
Brian loved traveling with his beloved wife and best friend Evie. The two had been to the Bahamas, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Savannah, San Antonio, Washington DC, Sante Fe, and Denver in the last two years. They especially loved their annual winter trips to Naples, Florida. His grandchildren Ellen, Michael, Kevin and Deirdre McGough will always remember the times spent with him at the beaches in Brewster on Cape Cod. No matter how cold the water or how cloudy the day, Papa was always up for a swim and a trip to the ice cream truck! Mr. Leahy loved attending Cape Cod League Baseball games with his son Brian.
Brian was also an avid movie-goer. He loved all kinds of films, but in the comfort of his living room recliner, his genre of choice was the cowboy western.
Brian had recently celebrated 25 years of sobriety. In turning his life and will over to God, Brian helped many other people with their addictions. Brian deeply loved his wife, four children and four grandchildren. But he also felt very grateful for his friends in the program.
At 6 foot 3 inches, Brian Leahy was a guy's guy. But he was also a tender gentleman. He talked to his children everyday, and ended each conversation with, "I love you." Brian's life was a journey that he did not take for granted. He knew what was truly important in life. He saw the beauty not only in life's "big events," but in each and every small moment, as well.
His neighbors were lucky to have someone who always looked out for them, his brothers were lucky to have someone who worked hard to keep family close, his grandchildren were so lucky to have a Papa who loved spending time with them, his children were fortunate to have a dad who they called first, to celebrate victories and share challenges, Their 39th Wedding Anniversary would have been this June 27th. Brian loved his wife like they were newlyweds, never missing a chance to hold her hand and give her a kiss.
While he is so profoundly missed by so many, it is a gift that we were touched by Brian M. Leahy. How he spent his last day on earth sums up the beautiful way in which he lived his life; he was civically active, he was a man of strong faith, and he always made time for friends and family.
God Bless you. May God hold you in the palm of his hand until we meet again.
Ann McGough is the daughter of Brian Leahy and a longtime contributor to the Reporter. A funeral Mass was scheduled for Thursday morning at St. Ann's Church, after which he was to be buried at Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne MA.