Appreciation – Second Longest Serving Mayor, John McCarthy, Passes Away

The second-longest serving mayor in the history of Everett, John R. McCarthy, has passed away at the age of 79.

McCarthy passed away on Feb. 15 at Lowell General Hospital surrounded by his loving family. In recent years he had made his home in Dracut.

McCarthy was known to be a boisterous man, who loved local politics, and is best known for laying the ground for the Telecom City and Gateway Mall developments – as well as kicking off the new school building process.

McCarthy came from a long line of politically active people, with his brother, George, operating an appliance store on Main Street and also becoming mayor before John.

John was born on June 7, 1939 in Everett to John and Madelyn McCarthy.  He was one of four children, brother of Bob, George, and Connie.  He graduated from Everett High School and attended Newman Preparatory School and Suffolk University. He often worked in the family appliance store, but his main career was with the NYNEX telephone company as well. He entered local politics later in life, becoming an alderman in 1982 and continuing until 1985. At that time, he beat Ed Connolly in a closely contested race and started his run as mayor in 1986. He continued as mayor until 1997 when former Mayor David Ragucci beat him. He tried to run against Ragucci one more time, but was also beat once again.

“He is the second longest serving mayor,” said City Clerk Sergio Cornelio. “Our longest serving mayor is Phillip Crowley and John McCarthy is our second longest serving.”

Long-time Councilor Wayne Matewsky said McCarthy will be remembered in Everett for the Gateway Mall and for keeping taxes down.

“He was responsible for getting the Gateway Mall to where it is today,” he said. “I didn’t think it would ever happen, but he deserves credit for that. He also always kept taxes down and he was a hands-on mayor. It was a different city back then, of course.”

McCarthy was actually one of the first to begin talking about reviving Everett Square, which was very desolate in the late 1980s and 1990s. Like the current plan to revive the Square, McCarthy wanted to see an enlivened downtown and was the first City leader to start that process, though a bad economy stopped its progress.

“The Everett Square revitalization dates back to John McCarthy,” said Cornelio. “They wanted to do it because there was supposed to be state funding, but the Massachusetts economy took a downturn. We were supposed to revitalize the downtown 30 years ago. He started that discussion decades ago.”

McCarthy also established the city’s first Conservation Commission, the first Disability Commission, the first curb side recycling program, and the countless renovations of schools, parks and public buildings, including the Everett Armory, and the award winning renovation of the Parlin Library in Everett Square.  His leadership in office also resulted in the re-purposing of a large portion of the Monsanto Chemical Company site into what today is known as the Gateway Shopping Center. 

As Mayor of Everett, John developed longstanding relationships with Mayor Tom Menino of Boston, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Speaker George Keverian, Congressman Ed Markey, Governor Michael Dukakis, and Speaker Tip O’Neil, and had the opportunity to meet President and Mrs. Clinton to discuss the impact of federal policy on local communities.  He was elected President of the Massachusetts Mayor’s association in 1992, and the Massachusetts Municipal Board of Directors from 1986-1992.  John was also an active participant in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which influenced local government nationwide.  John was elected to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board from 1993-1997, and served on several subcommittees, including Health Reform, Health Care Financing, Health Insurance, and the subcommittee on Aging.

John had a deep connection to the residents of Everett and the Italian and Irish heritage that many residents shared. He established a sister city relationship with Orsogna, Italy, and led a delegation that traveled to Italy to formally recognize the relationship, and later hosted a group from Orsogna when they visited Everett.

After leaving office in 1998, John and his wife Priscilla remained in Everett until 1999 when they retired to their lake house in Dracut where they had spent summers while raising their family.  John and Priscilla spent the next several years traveling the country, visiting with old friends and making new ones, while maintaining their residence in Dracut.  In true snow-bird fashion, they spent their winters in Florida, either in New Smyrna, Del Ray Beach, or the Villages. At home in Dracut, John was the proud “Grampy” to nine Grandchildren:  Connor (18), Brendan (15), Kayla (13), Dillon (11), Sloane (11), Caroline (10), Michael (8), Sinead (8), and Sean (7).  John and Priscilla had an open invitation for all of their children and grandchildren to visit Dracut and enjoy time on Long Pond.

John is survived by his loving wife Priscilla (Josephson) McCarthy, of Dracut, MA, his children, Robert McCarthy, of Wakefield, MA, John McCarthy, of Dallas, TX, Darren McCarthy and wife Michelle McCarthy, of Winchester, MA, and Kristin McAuliffe and husband Jason McAuliffe, of Malden, MA, and his brother George McCarthy and wife Charlotte McCarthy, of Hamilton, MA.  He is also survived by nine grandchildren.

A wake is scheduled at Murphy & O’Hara Funeral Home on Broadway in Everett on Friday, February 22, 2019, from 4:00PM-8:00PM, and a funeral mass is scheduled for Saturday at 11:00AM at the Immaculate Conception Church, on Broadway in Everett.  All are welcome to attend and celebrate John’s life.

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