In Memoriam Dorchester 2022

From left, Thelma Burns was Boston’s “community service champion.” Robert Marr was “one of Dorchester’s most generous and loyal sons.” 105-year-old Ernestine Emiline Sealy, 105, a Barbados native, left behind a rich family legacy: 2 sons and a daughter, 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great grandchildren. Bob Haas was a passionate advocate for Dorchester, a legendary civic leader and organizer in the Dudley Street and Uphams Corner neighborhoods. Catherine White, 98, was a Savin Hill mainstay, the mother of 8, grandmother of 20, and great-grandmother to 24. A proud union representative of Local 54, she was the cook at St. William’s rectory until the age of 84.

They were among the many who said goodbye. Some served in government. Some served the interests of their neighborhoods in public settings while others did so from home. Some offered spiritual direction. Some built things, and one delivered the mail with diligence and equanimity. For all that, they had one thing in common: A connection to Dorchester during their lives.

Robert L. Marr, characterized in a Reporter editorial as “one of Dorchester’s most generous and loyal sons” was the son of Colonel Daniel Marr, the namesake of the original Boys and Girls Club. Bob and his brother, Dan. Jr., raised the money and drove the project. The fifth-generation construction company – which Bob’s grandfather, Daniel F. Marr, founded in 1898 – specializes in steel erection, scaffolding, and cranes. “Back in the day, and over 50 years, he never stopped,” said Bob Scannell, BCGD president and CEO. “Bob didn’t just write checks and walk away. He was involved in every committee, every event. And look at the legacy he leaves behind.”

Thelma D. Burns very much earned her designation as Boston’s “community service champion.” She served as co-founder and executive director of The Storefront Learning Center, one of Boston’s first programs focused on the needs of inner-city youth. Her involvement with Boston’s marginalized youth grew to include her service in two different Metropolitan Council of Education Opportunity (METCO) program communities, first Cohasset and later Belmont, where she spent more than 20 years as program director. After her retirement from METCO in 2001, Thelma focused on the needs and concerns of Boston’s senior community. She served on the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Board of Directors for more than 35 years in multiple capacities and headed the ABCD Dorchester Neighborhood Service Center board for more than 15 years. She also operated in a leadership capacity on numerous community boards, including Central Boston Elder Services, the Mayor’s Senior Advisory Council, and the Roxbury YMCA.

Theresa “Terry” Dolan was a longtime Dorchester civic leader and environmental activist who specialized in caring for her home community, the Lower Mills, to which she was drawn, she said, by the “mini-renaissance” of the Walter Baker Chocolate buildings on the banks of the Neponset River. After earning a graduate degree at Simmons College, she worked for 25 years in the Massachusetts State House, serving six governors of both political parties, from Michael Dukakis to Deval Patrick. Upon her retirement in 2008, Ms. Dolan became a leader in community civic activities, advocating for the cleanup of the Neponset River and volunteering as secretary/treasurer of the Dorchester Lower Mills Civic Association.

Bob Haas, a New Jersey native, a passionate advocate for Dorchester, was a legendary civic leader and organizer in the Dudley Street and Uphams Corner neighborhoods. He was also an accomplished, classically trained pianist and organist, who performed two full-length concerts at the Strand Theatre. A founding member of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, the two most important engines of economic renewal and civic life in his part of Boston, he “was a tall, big teddy bear,” said John Barros, a close friend and former colleague. “He was a committed community builder who organized in Roxbury and Dorchester for decades and was a true giant in the community with a big heart and consistent dedication to his neighbors.”

Others who served their city in public roles included Thomas P. Lyons, a onetime deputy Commissioner of Health and Hospitals for the City of Boston; William Cotter, who was a deputy Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development for the city for 30 years and a stalwart youth sports figure, especially with Savin Hill Baseball and Dorchester Youth Hockey; William “Billy” Celester Jr. rose through the ranks of the Boston Police Department to the position of deputy superintendent before he was recruited to become Director of the Newark (NJ) Police Department in 1991. He also served as commissioner of the Suffolk County House of Correction at Deer Island; Herbie Berman, 95, of the US Postal Service, surely set some kind of record for service with the agency through all sorts of Dorchester weather until he stopped walking his routes at age 88.

When it came to spreading the news, Jack Thomas was always at the ready. He grew up in Neponset and worked on Morrissey Boulevard for some 50 years as a reporter, city editor, columnist, ombudsman, and feature writer at the Boston Globe and as a correspondent for the Dorchester Reporter and its sister publication, The Boston Irish Reporter; Barbara McDonough, 86, who delighted Dorchester Reporter readers for more than three decades with her accounts of daily life in Neponset and beyond, died on New Year’s Eve 2021 just a few minutes before the arrival of 2022. She was the Reporter’s longest-serving columnist and a regular presence in the newspaper’s offices from 1983 until her retirement in 2015; Edward D. Miller, 91, a Dorchester native who moved all the way to Milton, told all the stories about Boston College athletics as the university’s Director of Sports Information over the last quarter of the 20th century.


Sister Theresa Cunningham, SND de Namur, 96, taught for many years at Notre Dame affiliated Dorchester schools, including St. Gregory Elementary and St. Gregory High Schools and St. Ambrose School. Later, she worked on the staff of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston Archdiocese. … Rev. Jacques A. McGuffie, 76, a native of Haiti who served as a priest in Dorchester at Holy Family and St. Peter parishes was a delayed vocation who came to the priesthood after the death of his wife and a career as an accountant. … Rev. George A. Carrigg, 91, was for 48 years a constant presence at Saint Christopher Parish on the Columbia Point Peninsula.


Michael C. Szkolka was that guy in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston reenacting a scene from the 18th century – a British Redcoat throwing back a few pints with tourists and locals alike, deploying his inexplicable combination of crankiness and charm that made him genuinely likable. He had a passion for education and history as he was a teacher for 26 years at Fontbonne Academy in Milton, an adjunct professor at Quincy College, and a staple on the Freedom Trail in Boston as a tour guide with Lessons on Liberty. … When it came to staying power, Catherine M. (Glavin) White, 98, of Savin Hill, was in the front rank. Mother of 8, grandmother of 20, and great-grandmother to 24, she was a proud union representative of Local 54 and employee of Boston University. After retirement, she took on the cooking responsibilities at St. William’s rectory, where she worked until the age of 84. … Another Savin Hill mainstay, Patricia Powers, raised her family there while finding the time to work as a patient care assistant at St. Margaret’s and St. Elizabeth’s hospitals for 37 years and later as a volunteer tour guide at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate on Columbia Point. … Ernestine Emiline Sealy, 105, a Barbados native, left behind a rich family legacy: 2 sons and a daughter, 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great grandchildren.

Lastly, the Franklin Park Zoo lost Anala the tiger, at 17, of kidney failure. Officials deemed her an “incredible ambassador for her species.”

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