Those We Lost: Recent Passings in the Irish-American Community

In this Oct. 21, 1975 file photo, New York Gov. Hugh Carey, right, and Felix Rohatyn, chairman of Municipal Assistance Coportaion, press memebrs of a House economic stabilization subcommittee in Washington, to enact legislation to aid deficit-ridden New York City.

By Irish America staff
October / November 2011

Hugh Carey

Former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who famously saved the state from the brink of financial ruin, passed away at his home on Shelter Island on August 7. He was 92.

Carey, New York’s 51st governor, served for two terms from 1975-1982. During his first year in office, he immediately inherited the debt incurred during Governor Rockefeller’s four terms and the deficits and troubles of the 1975-75 recession. The measures he took to save the city and the state from insolvency were not always popular, but they were undeniably effective. He raised taxes and transit fares, instituted tuitions at the city’s universities, negotiated with banks and the legislature, and helped reverse President Ford’s 1975 decision to deny New York much-needed extra funding.

Hugh Leo Carey was born in Brooklyn, NY on April 11, 1919, one of five sons of Margaret and Denis Carey, both children of Irish immigrants. In later years, Carey featured prominently in the Irish American political scene. Along with Edward Kennedy, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Tip O’Neill, he was one of the “Four Horsemen,” a group that sought to block U.S. support for Irish republicans. Carey changed his opinion in later years and even backed the granting of a visa to Gerry Adams in 1994.

Governor Carey was predeceased by his first wife, Helen Owen Twohy, and is survived by 11 children, 25 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.


Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan, former pitcher, general manager and broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, died at his home on August 24. The Maryland medical examiner determined that the cause was a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. A police investigation concluded that Flanagan, 59, had been upset about unspecified financial matters.

A left-handed pitcher, Flanagan joined the Orioles in 1975, switching from Toronto to Baltimore. His best year was 1979, when he was awarded the Cy Young Award for his impessive 23 victories and 5 shut-outs. Flanagan spent many more seasons with the Orioles as both a pitching coach and a broadcaster. In 2003 he was appointed co-general manager, and then served as executive vice president from 2006-2008. Fittingly, he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame.

Michael K. Flanagan was born in Manchester, NH on December 16, 1951. A talented athlete, he excelled in both baseball and basketball. It wasn’t until he was at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, that he decided to stick with the sport that would become his career.

Flanagan is survived by his wife, Alex Flanagan, and three daughters, one of whom was among the first babies conceived via in-vitro fertilization in the United States, and the first to be born without a Cesarean section.


Bernadine P. Healy

Dr. Bernadine Patricia Healy, the first woman to lead the National Institutes of Health, a former head of the Red Cross, and a pioneer in cardiology and women’s health, died on August 6th in her home in Gates Mills, Ohio. Sixty seven years-old, she had faced recurring brain tumors for 13 years.

One of four sisters, Healey was born on August 2, 1944 in Queens, NY where her parents ran a small perfume factory. Raised Irish Catholic, Healey aspired to be a nun for some years, before switching her attention to medicine. After finishing college in three years she went on to Harvard medical school, graduating in 1970.

A pioneer from the earliest stages of her career, she was the first female assistant dean for postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins, where she became a full professor in 1982 and also directed the university’s cardiac care unit.

In 1984, Healy joined the Reagan administration as deputy science advisor and then served as president of the American Heart Association before becoming head of the National Institutes of Health in 1991, where she founded the groundbreaking Women’s Health Initiative.

In 1999 she took over as the president of the Red Cross, but resigned in 2001 amid controversy surrounding the organization’s response to 9/11: Healy’s move to reserve some of the donations received for future attacks was met with criticism, as donors and Congress questioned why all of the funds were not directed to relief efforts.

Healy is survived by her husband, cardiac surgeon Dr. Floyd Loop, and two daughters.


John Kelley

John Joseph Kelley, winner of nine national marathons and a member of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, died on August 21st in Connecticut. The cause, as reported by the New York Times, was melanoma.

Kelley was born on Christmas Eve in 1930 and grew up in New London, CT. He began running competitively in high school and set a national record for the mile in his age group. In his junior year, he attempted to run his first Boston Marathon but had to stop halfway through due to difficulties with his knee.

Undeterred, he went on to win second place in 1956 and was the champion of the 1957 race. He competed in the national championships in Yonkers, NY every year between 1956 and 1963, winning each time. Kelley was the victor of the 1959 Pan American Games marathon and traveled to the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. His personal record was 2:20:5.

A graduate of Boston University, Kelley worked as an English teacher and track coach for many years in Groton, CT. In retirement, he contributed to magazines and books, sold sports equipment, drove a taxi, and kept running long after his competitive days were over.

Kelley was predeceased by his wife, Jacintha Braga, in 2003. He is survived by their three daughters and eight grandchildren.


James T. Molloy

James T. Molloy, who ushered six presidents into the House of Representatives to deliver the State of the Union address by bellowing “Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!” died on July 19 in Rochester, New York. He was 75.

Molloy was the 34th and last doorkeeper who held this position, which was created in 1789. He lost his job after the 1994 election when Republicans gained control of the House and eliminated the job. The duties of the doorkeeper, which included supervision of the House document room, the press gallery, the photography office and 400 employees, were redistributed in attempt to save money. The duty of introducing important figures was passed onto the sergeant of arms.

In his youth, Molloy paid his way through Canisius College working at the Buffalo Fire Department until he graduated in 1958. A third-generation Irish-American, Molloy was honored with an Outstanding Citizen Award from the New York State AFL-CIO, the President’s Award from NY State Federation of Police, and the U.S. Senate Youth Alumni Association Outstanding Service Award. In 2006, he received a more personal honor when his local post office on South Park Avenue was renamed the James T. Molloy in 2006.


Paddy Murphy

Paddy Murphy, whose persistence through a seven-year battle with a degenerative disease enabled a TV documentary on an Irish famine ship to be broadcast, has died. He was 70.

Patrick Bernard Murphy was retired from a marketing career when he picked up the tale of the Irish famine ship Hannah sinking in 1849. He was a descendant of Bernard Murphy, who was saved from the icy water as a child.

Paddy had MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, and raced against its progression to tell the story of the sinking, in which many Irish immigrants perished on the ice floes of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada.

Paddy’s research led to a documentary, Famine and Shipwreck: An Irish Odyssey on BBC Northern Ireland and the CBC in Canada. An article in Irish America in Aug./Sept. 2008 was a key link to getting the story told. The great-great-grandson of William Marshall, the captain of the ship which saved Hannah passengers, found the story on the Internet and connected with Murphy. It proved to be a vital link in getting the documentary made.

“Paddy left us on the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of his illness,” said his wife Jane. “His four loving children were with him.” Daughter Kathy Pugliese said her father was a man who packed a full life into his 70 years.

Murphy’s ashes were interred in Westport, Ontario on July 30 following a prayer vigil at the Mission on the Mountain, the site of the area’s first Roman Catholic Church. He was instrumental in getting the location designated a historical site.
– John Kernaghan


Eamonn O’Doherty

Irish artist and sculptor Eamonn O’Doherty passed away in Gorey District Hospital, Co. Wexford on August 4, 2011 at the age of 72.

Known primarily for his popular sculptures throughout Ireland and the United States, O’Doherty was born in Derry in 1939 and studied architecture at University College Dublin before continuing his studies on scholarship at Harvard University. His most widely recognized works includes Fauscailt (Co. Wexford, 1998), Crann an Oir (outside the Central Bank in Dublin, 1991), and Anna Livia (widely known as the “floozie in the Jacuzzi”), which the city council controversially removed from Dublin’s O’Connell Street in 2002, and has since been placed near Heuston Station. His most notable work in the Americas is the Great Hunger Memorial in Ardsley, Westchester County, New York, completed in 2001.

Also an academic, painter, architect, and musician, he taught at several universities throughout the United States and Europe and was scheduled to open a new exhibition of drawings in Dublin this September. Fellow artist Mick O’Dea remembered him in the Irish Times as “a maker, shaper, [and] lover of life,” and remarked, “his contribution to Irish artistic life has been enormous.” O’Doherty leaves behind his wife, Barbara, daughters Aisling, Medhan and Rosie, and son, Eoin.

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