Hill Happenings

Last month, family and friends mourned the death of Richie Durkin, a stalwart citizen, who loved Mission Hill. Richie was a retired Boston School police captain. He graduated from Mission High School in 1975, where he was an outstanding athlete. Richie was the center on the great 1974 Mission High basketball team. That group posted a 20-0 record in the Catholic Suburban League before losing to Middleboro High in the state tournament.

Durkin, a lanky right-hander, was also a terrific pitcher on Mission’s baseball team. More importantly, Richie was a great guy and a wonderful family man, who was married to Barbara (O’Connell). The couple has two lovely daughters, Erin and Chelsea. At Richie’s funeral mass at Mission Church, Chelsea succinctly defined her dad, “He was the best father any daughter could ask for.”

Richie had a keen sense of humor. I recall Richie telling me some years ago, “I struck it rich, I married a fine woman and she also owns a liquor store.” Barbara and her family owned Brigham Liquors, the well-known store at Brigham Circle. Richie was the mainstay of our Facebook page, “I Grew Up In Mission Hill.” He would post pictures and video of Hill events going back to the days of “Pilate’s Daughter,” the renowned religious play, performed at St. Alphonsus Hall. Richie would post my column every month, connecting me with former Mission Hill folks throughout the country. If he liked my article, Richie would write, “Another great Mission Hill Gazette column by Mossy Martin.” Thanks Richie.

A gleeful group of Mission Hill folks gathered with Mara St. Cyr on Feb. 19 at the Elks Post in West Roxbury to celebrate Mara’s 90th birthday. Mara is an alumna of Mission High School, class of 1945. Mara is a member of the Mission Hill Post, where her late husband, Al St. Cyr, a World War ll veteran, was the Commander. God Bless Mara, who is still sharp as a tack.

A tip of the hat goes to Bill Raynor, who retired from basketball coaching after 42 years. Raynor, a soft-spoken gentleman, coached the past 12 years at MassBay Community College in Framingham. Raynor grew up in the Mission Hill project where he honed his basketball skills, later becoming a great player at Catholic Memorial High and Dartmouth College. He was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007 and Raynor currently works with the Harare Basketball Association, which promotes basketball in Zimbabwe.

Condolences to the family and friends of Mark Shaughnessy, who passed away last week. Mark was a wonderful guy from Mission Hill with a big heart. Donations may be made in Mark’s memory to the Home for Little Wanderers.

Good luck to Bob O’Neill, who retired from the Boston Fire Department (BFD) last month. Bob, from Mission Hill, is a great guy with youthful looks. In a different life, before Bob was a firefighter, he was a fine singer. Back in the 1970s, Bob and fellow Mission Hill crooner, Frankie Scheffler, performed at Kilgarriff’s, then a popular Jamaica Plain nightclub on Green Street. The pair sang their signature song, “Hummingbird,” made famous by Seals and Crofts.

Best wishes to Rick Doyle, who also retired from the BFD. Rick was a firefighter out of the Jamaica Plain fire house.

With March 17 on the horizon, perhaps a few Mission Hill bars will feature a bit of Irish music. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and don’t lend money to a leprechaun because he’ll always come up short.


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