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~ Malden Musings ~ “Arthur P. Boyle Sr. – An Extraordinary Ordinary Man”

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By Peter Levine


Just so Malden doesn’t forget, here’s a little reminder of who the Arthur P. Boyle Building was actually named after. In Malden, Mr. Boyle was a giant, not just physically, but as mentor, friend, community leader and beloved father and husband. I reached out to son Arthur for his memories on dad and I found a wonderful article written by son Michael on the interweb. The title of this article was from something Michael wrote in 2019. I have weaved Michael’s thoughts as well as oldest son Arthur’s into this piece.

Arthur Boyle Jr. from the Class of 1975 recalls his father: “I can’t believe it’s been nearly 40 years and I still think of him regularly and his name comes up about school events, the scholarship in my family’s name, the nice card I get from Jeanne Marquardo on special days, a nice remembrance from Ed Lucey our former mayor in honor of my mother who was the biggest part of Dad’s life.

“There were many days I wish I had the benefit of his counsel. There were other times, like the loss of our grandson at three days old where I could have used his words of wisdom. It shows the type of character he had as you must go back forty years for words from the man you admire most.

“He does live on in the memories of his grandchildren particularly Mandy and Jen who are now in their 40’s. He lives through his grandson, Billy, whom he never met but is named for (former police commissioner Bill Davidson and my father) so he is William Arthur. We have my brother Michael’s two children Mark and Michaela. Mark is in his first year of college and Michaela is a professional hockey player. Dave’s two, Emily (a college freshman) and Liam (just getting his license).

“Brother Mike won a World Series ring with the Red Sox as the strength and conditioning coach in 2013.

“Sister Kathy passed away nearly two years ago and was without question his favorite and losing her would have broken his heart.

“On a more positive note, we are continuing the scholarship each year and there is thanks to former student Joe Levine, a recreational basketball league named for Dad and that came 30 years after his passing.

“If he were alive today Dad would have had 4 children, and six grandchildren and knowing him as I did, we would be having Pepsi and pizza from DiPietro’s: after all its Friday night!

“The secret to his success as I look back was when you came to see him, nothing was more important. You were his focus. Paul Solano brought that to my attention many years ago and he was right. And it wouldn’t be a school function without Dad and Mom’s best friends Roy and Lorraine Finn.

“Good night, Mom, and Dad. Keep an eye on Tommy for us.”

Second oldest son Michael Boyle from the Class of 1977 recalls his father: “I was inspired to write this by Nick Demarco’s tribute to his father. Nick is the Director of Sports Performance at Elon. I stole the title from my cousin Nick Covino Jr. He used those words years ago to eulogize his father (Uncle Nick to all of us) after his passing.

“Arthur Boyle Sr was a teacher, a coach and eventually principal. I was blissfully unaware as a child that I had an amazing role model who loved his wife, his children, and his jobs. His standard joke was that anyone with one job was lazy. He taught, coached, umpired and amazingly drove a Pepsi delivery truck in the summer.

“My dad didn’t drink, smoke or swear in the time I knew him. He was a larger-than-life character yet lived a very modest, very ordinary life.

“He was a military policeman in World War 2, a post-war football star at Boston University and an institution at Malden High School, yet he never considered himself to be anything but ordinary.

“He was inducted into the Boston University Athletic Hall of Fame and named to the Boston University Football All Post War Team in the 1970’s. He played with the legendary Harry Agganis at BU and in fact was the center when Agganis was the quarterback.

“He coached basketball teams to championships in spite of never playing organized basketball and taught his kids about racial equality in the sixties when it certainly wasn’t fashionable.

“When asked about his military service he joked that his job was cleaning out bars in Paris. That is about as much as I got to know about his time in the military. He never spoke about his football career but, when I was lucky enough to meet teammates, they described a monster of a man who dominated games. My dad was never a ‘look at me’ type of guy.

“He also died when I was 25. He was never lucky enough to meet Cindy or to hold Michaela or Mark. Those might be my biggest regrets.

“The largest tribute to my dad is the high school building that bears his name.

“Although the school is still Malden High School the building is officially the Arthur P Boyle Building and, if you drive down Salem St. in Malden you can see the tiled image of my mom and dad on the front of the building.

“The next, and maybe more fitting tribute, is that the recreation basketball league in Malden is the Arthur Boyle League.

“I’m writing this today because 35 years later there aren’t that many Malden residents who probably remember my dad.

“Strangely, I worried about telling my dad’s story. He was never one to brag and I guess I’m the same.

“But it is time to brag. As Arthur P Boyle nears what would have been his 98th birthday I want the whole world to know about this extraordinary, ordinary man.

“If you search Arthur Boyle on the internet two stories pop up. Both are about kids who became successful after my father talked them into returning to high school to get their degrees at Malden High School. Both thanked them at their inductions into the Malden High School Hall of Fame for believing in them as kids and probably for seeing more in them than they saw in themselves.

“My dad specialized in that. Seeing the good in kids who didn’t yet see it in themselves might have been his real skill.

“A story, that until now was known only to a select few, is more telling. When my dad was dying one of his former students, now a mom and a nurse, basically moved into our house to care for him. She described a man who took her by the hand and brought her to nursing school after high school and changed her life. Her only way to give back was to be with him those last few days. Imagine having that much impact in your life.

“His wake was supposed to be 2-4 and 7-9 for two days. It went from about 1-10 both days as hundreds of people stood in line to pay their last respects. His funeral looked like a parade as people lined the streets of Malden for what seemed to be miles to say goodbye.

“For thirty-five years I’ve been like my dad. Keeping quiet and doing my job but, today I’d like people to learn just a bit about my father Arthur Patrick Boyle.”

As Peter Falk’s iconic TV character Columbo would say, “Just one more thing, sir” – at Mr. Boyle’s funeral mass back in 1984, one of the eulogists, Dr. Bertram Holland, retired principal at Brookline High, verbally painted a beautiful picture of Mr. Boyle to the congregation of over 1,000 family, friends and former students: “Arthur Boyle’s ‘monument’ has been built on the memories and the deeds of the late high school principal.” He continued, “We thank God for the monument of Arthur Boyle that will endure in our memories and continue to inspire us all.”

Postscript 1: Before Malden completely forgets, Mr. Boyle – as head coach of the boy’s hoop team at MHS – earned the Greater Boston League and Tech Tourney Championships in both the 1960-1961 & 1963-1964 campaigns.

Postscript 2: The first nominations for Malden’s version of Mount Rushmore – which will be located at Waitt’s Mount – are in: Paul Phaneuf, Mabel McQueston, Brendon Duffy, Jim Conway, Walter Mullaney, and, of course, Arthur Boyle.

Postscript 3: At the corner of Salem and Holden Streets in 1984, approximately 120 faculty members joined nearly 150 members of the MHS Band. The band (Mr. Boyle’s pride & joy) marched silently and without instruments. Members wore bright blue western-style hats at their backs, and the only sounds were that of the drummers, who played a “constant, doleful street beat.”

Postscript 4: No, I have not forgotten Mr. Boyle’s youngest son, David. Due to space limitations, I will have to include Dave’s thoughts at a later date. Stay tuned.

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