In the end, Peter Looney left this world with much more than when he came into it.
When he died last Thursday at the age of 69 following a long and heroic battle with lung cancer, his legacy added up to having become one of this neighborhood’s most well respected, best known and most highly thought of people.
He was, at the end of his road, a gem of a man to everyone he met; a friend to all. Everything that was special about Mr. Looney was rooted in his gentle and caring manner.
He was also a doer, and for many, many years was the leader of this neighborhood’s ongoing fight against alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence.
In May, Mr. Looney was still healthy enough to celebrate his own last hurrah at the dedication of the park named after him near to the skating rink.
People from all walks of life attended the event, which highlighted the life and times of Mr. Looney, who made thoughtful and heartfelt remarks to the crowd.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” he said – with the large crowd gathered around, and his entire family, too.
“To see all of you here for me says it all and to have my family around me means so much – and I don’t really know what else to say.”
At the time, he was wearing an oxygen mask and a ball cap and trying to be as inobtrusive as possible given the compelling nature of the day.
He stood without aid. He spoke firmly in a strong but sensitive voice.
That was in May.
Throughout the summer Mr. Looney condition deteriorated. Last week, things grew grim.
Thursday, he died quietly surrounded by his family – just as he wanted it.
At his funeral Mass Monday held inside a packed Saint Mary’s Church in front of dozens of city officials, high ranking politicians and the people of Charlestown who admired him, he was praised by Father Daniel Mahoney as a family man and as a man of the people.
“I worked closely with Peter. I loved Peter. He was a special man and a wonderful friend. In the end, his faith over everything else caused him to desire communion above all else before passing on,” Father Mahoney added.
William “Billy” Boyle, one of Mr. Looney’s best lifelong friends, said a lot about him – all of it greatly appreciated by the crowd. Mr. Boyle’s Charlestown heritage and his understanding of the neighborhood is without peer.
However, it was Mr. Looney’s oldest grandson, Nolan, whose compelling words caused many in the crowd to shed a tear.
“He would always travel down to Marshfield to watch all of us grandchildren at every game for every holiday – even when he was having to carry around the heavy bottle of oxygen which was watched over by my grandmother,” Nolan added.
“However, it was the walks and the long talks we shared along the beach that was so special to me – and I will miss him everyday of my life,” he said.
Father Mahoney detailed a story that highlighted the unselfishness that was such a great part of Mr. Looney’s persona.
“There was some concern that if the electricity went out that Peter’s oxygen, which was keeping him alive, would fail him. So I told him we were going to get him a generator,” Father Mahoney said.
“No way,” Peter replied. “If I get a generator then everyone in my position should have one as well,” he said.
Unbelievably enough, when the word went out about this situation locally, enough generators were found to take care of everyone in the neighborhood suffering as Mr. Looney was suffering.
Mr. Looney was a sheet metal worker. He grew-up here. He was a lifelong resident here.
As he said at the park opening in May, he loved Charlestown and Charlestown was his life – and he was just fine with that.
He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.
A few heartfelt words from friends of Peter Looney
Peter gave so much of himself to our community. Growing up, you always knew who he was, recognized him in the street, and saw him all over town. Like many of my peers I participated in CHAD events as a child, and would see Peter scrambling around town from meeting to meeting. However, only until I was an adult working in the community, did I begin to recognize the real magnitude of his accomplishments and commitment to Charlestown. His selfless dedication to our community has been, and always will be inspirational. It was an honor getting to know him over the years. I hope his family can take solace in knowing that his legacy of service has inspired countless people, myself included, to strive to become better, to do better, and to give back to Charlestown “now and forever”!
Many “Townies” know of the passion Peter Looney had for his beloved Charlestown, but not everyone is aware of his (and CHAD’s) behind-the-scenes financial commitment to the youth athletic programs in our neighborhood. Pete was a person who NEVER said no to any initiative which focused on keeping youngsters engaged in character/confidence-building activities and his priorities of faith, family and community was a source of great inspiration. On behalf of my children, who participated in many of the programs he helped sponsor, I offer my deepest sympathies to the Looney family.
Mr. Looney was one of the GREATEST (I have to emphasize that word) to ever live in this town. The list is endless of all of the great things he has done for this town and those contributions will forever live on through his fellow Townies.
I want to Thank Mr. Looney especially for the things that he did for me. Inviting me to sing at several of his events and fundraisers (Charlestown Community Awards, Hayes Square Reunion, Bunker Hill Day Breakfast etc.) I am so grateful to him for letting me be a part of those events. And I will be forever grateful for being able to become a friend of his over the past few years, a friendship I will forever treasure. When I appeared on Charlestown Live a few weeks ago, Mr. Looney was one of the callers on the show, and the kind words that he said to me I will forever remember.
Mr. Looney on behalf of the Charlestown Community, I would like to thank you being the great man you were.
I will miss you dearly.
Such a lovely man who gave us such a warm welcome when we moved to town. He is missed already.”
Tom wrote: “It’s heartbreaking to have someone who gave so much to one town pass away when he still had so many things that he wanted to accomplish. Peter never let his health issues hold him back. We will miss you Pete.”
It is very sad to see some die that loved Charlestown so much”
Peter was one of the first people I met when I started working at The Patriot. He was a great guy and he will be missed.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Peter Looney who fought as hard as he could for as long as he could. His efforts over the years were always focused on the future of Charlestown and its children, the neighborhood’s real future. Charlestown after-all, to him was never the landscape, but its people. He spent a lifetime working on causes that improved his hometown an its residents. He was a good and gentle man and a fierce fighter for important causes.
I was so glad to be with him back in June at the dedication on “Peter Looney Park” on Union St. What more appropriate place to honor the legacy of Peter Looney’s life than a children’s playground.
It rained over Charlestown on both the day of his wake and the day of his funeral and burial. I saw the raindrops as tears falling on Charlestown for a great community person who loved his neighborhood so much and so long.
By Fr. James Ronan
During the past days our Town has remembered Peter Looney with a number of fitting tributes. When I came to Charlestown seven years ago, Peter was only a name around the Parish. It was awhile before I met him, for he had been ill and not around in his usual activities. But that did not mean he was not active, as we all came to know. Even in his failing health, his attention was unfailing to all kinds of matters and issues. Yet no matter the issue, for him, it was always people who mattered the most.
Sometime in 2005 when Peter returned to active life in the Parish, I came to see first hand this remarkable man for whom traditional boundaries meant little and the welfare of people meant everything. Serving on the Parish Pastoral Council and working hard with others to face the challenges of the Church in Charlestown, Peter spoke with honesty and conviction for what he thought would be the best for everyone. For me, Peter embodied a practice of authentic Christian service.
Have you noticed that the whole idea of “service” is getting more attention in all areas of our communities? In most schools and universities, in Confirmation programs and other activities, service requirements have become an integral element. This was never a part of formal education some years ago – but now it is. Companies promoting an initiative where employees leave the office for some service activity have become commonplace and opportunities to engage in service trips to parts of our country or the world for a period of time are growing.
Maybe this new awareness is evolving in response to an age when people seem more disconnected from one another and individualism is more the norm than the exception. Whatever the reason, what a good development this is! For the truth is, to concretely act in a way that is selfless and helpful to another is a fundamental aspect of being Christian and essential to building and sustaining any community.
I often hear someone say they love this Town because of the sense of community here – a place where people greet one another and where people seem to care about others. Indeed, it is true, and one of the underpinnings of it is the recognition of the importance of service.
For men and women of Faith, the practice of service includes a deeper meaning. Whether it is the Golden Rule, “Do unto others what you would have them do to you”, or living the fundamental command of Jesus that we love one another as He loves us, service is crucial in the life of faith. And caring for those most vulnerable and needy is a central teaching in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Maybe the most compelling aspect of serving for anyone is how a life of service can be so very rewarding – in more ways than one can imagine. Peter Looney knew all about this and he was the first to speak of how blessed has been his life. Our grateful Town will miss Peter, and we are surely the richer for his presence in Charlestown. And now, we commend him to the God who has always loved him and has brought him home. And we continue in this great Town – inspired by Peter’s living example of what it means to live a life of service. Rest in peace, Peter.
Charlestown Against Drugs
Assisting Charlestown Youth and Families for Over 20 Years
The Board members and volunteers of Charlestown Against Drugs wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of our Chairman Peter Looney. As you may know Peter passed from this earth on Aug. 11, 2011 at the age of 69. Almost half of his life spent as Chairman of Charlestown Against Drugs. We would like to reassure the Looney family and all of Charlestown that the work Peter has done to establish and nurture Charlestown Against Drugs will not be forgotten nor neglected. Charlestown Against Drugs will continue as Peter would have wanted it to, as an all volunteer organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Charlestown. Peter has passed from this earth but his spirit will live on though Charlestown Against Drugs. The path that Peter has carved will continue to be heavily traveled by providing programs that are dedicated to serving the residents of Charlestown, especially our youth. Charlestown Against Drugs is committed to honoring the legacy that Peter left us. It is our intention to continue the good work of Charlestown Against Drugs. Peter can never be replaced but his work ethic and commitment to the town he loved so much will carry on through those who worked side by side with him. With Peter always in our hearts, CHAD will continue its efforts to assist the residents and organizations of the Charlestown community when and where ever we are needed.
“Now and Forever”.