There was not anything that Billy Boyle wouldn’t do for Charlestown – let alone all the people he helped in the Town.
Last Thursday afternoon, scores of his family, friends and neighbors came out to honor him and let him know how much everyone in Charlestown appreciated him. Though he lie in his bed on the third floor of his Main Street apartment, he was moved by the gathering – that so many would show up in such trying times to let him know they were with him.
Sadly, on Wednesday morning, Billy Boyle passed away.
But he didn’t leave this life without the support of hundreds of good souls in the Town at his side in spirit.
On Wednesday, Mayor Martin Walsh said he would miss his friend dearly.
“Billy devoted his life to the community of Charlestown, and we will miss him dearly,” said Mayor Walsh. “His service to our country as a veteran and as a firefighter, and his advocacy in the neighborhood has inspired and guided generations of Townies to give back to their community. His legacy will never be forgotten.”
Last Thursday, an impromptu car parade was organized that was led by the police and fire, and Mayor Martin Walsh showed up to support Boyle and the family.
His children, Billy, Christine and Little Dodie were all in attendance as well at Thursday’s parade and were very grateful to the community for rallying around their father.
Though everyone tried to keep their distances as best as possible, the outpouring brought on a lot of emotion.
“That man up there in that bed is such an inspiration to me and has done so much for so many people and we are all here to support him,” said the mayor. “We’re going to get through this thing.”
Maureen Collier, president of the Bunker Hill Associates, and Kim Mahoney, past president, said they were there to honor a charter member of their organization in Boyle.
“Billy Boyle is a charter member of the Associates and gave so much to this Town,” said Collier. “There is no one we would rather have honored and we let him know how much he is loved by this community. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone.”
Said Mahoney, “Last Thursday came together quickly and it was so that people from all over the community could honor him and let him know how impactful he was on so many lives. It’s a sad day for Charlestown and the Bunker Hill Associates and every other organization in the Town he gave to. His family was with him every step of the way.”
Boyle was a retired firefighter, and grew up in Charlestown – often recalling how he lived in a cold-water flat near where Ironside’s restaurant is today. He recalled having to go over to where the old Tobin Bridge entrance was in that area to look for coal during World War II so the family could heat their home.
In his adult years, he was well known for his work with the Associates, yet also for his formation of CHAD – Charlestown Against Drugs – and the strong anti-drug message he brought to the Town when it was ravaged by opioids and other substances long before there was a national epidemic.
He inspired many to turn from drugs, yet he did it softly and compassionately and didn’t judge anyone harshly, he often said. He was known for leading the CHAD Parade during Charlestown Pride Week, and also for emceeing Peter Looney Night as well.
In later years, he was often found at Zume’s getting coffee in the morning – where just about everyone ran into him at one point or another.
Few things can be said that suffice, but that he will be missed far and wide.