Rev. Bill Loesch dies at 77; activist in Codman Square and crusader for civil rights

Rev. Bill Loesch

Dr. Rev. Bill Loesch, who led community organizing efforts in the Codman Square and Four Corners neighborhoods for five decades in his adopted home of Dorchester, died on Sunday surrounded by friends and family. He was 77 years old and had battled illness over the last few years.

A native of New Jersey, Rev. Loesch lived for most of his adult life on Brent Street and was so involved in efforts to improve the city park across the street — popularly known as Wainwright Park—that the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino re-named it for the reverend in 2012.

“I’ve always been an activist,” he told the Reporter in an interview last year. “Some people can’t leave their jobs – that was my job, to be a troublemaker. To be helping the bigger picture.”

Dr. Loesch came to Boston to attend school. In 1965, he moved with some fellow seminary students into the Grove Hall neighborhood where he became immersed in the civil rights efforts of the era. He participated in desegregation campaigns in the South— including the 1965 March on Selma led by Dr. King. He was deeply involved in anti-racism work in Boston as well.

He served as a chaplain at Boston City Hospital while living and serving in Columbia Point before moving to Brent Street, where he became active in Codman Square’s Second Church and in the early efforts to launch the Codman Square Health Center. He and his daughter Cynthia Loesch-Johnson have been instrumental in community work around Codman Square and Four Corners— and in leading anti-tobacco efforts across the city.

In addition to the honor of the park re-naming, Rev. Loesch’s efforts were recognized by UMass Boston, which presented him with the Robert H. Quinn Award for Community Service.

There will be a Celebration of Life at Second Church, 600 Washington Street, Dorchester, MA 02124 on Saturday, July 14 with visiting at 12 noon and the celebration service at 1:00 pm. Interment will be private in Andover, MA. Arrangements are made by Floyd A. Williams Funeral Home, Inc., 490 Columbia Road Boston, MA 02125. www.floydawilliamsfuneralhome.com.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the BOLD Teens, c/o Treasurer, Codman Square Neighborhood Council, 14 Euclid Street, Dorchester, MA 02124