Saying Goodbye to Bill: 'He Wanted Waltham to Just Be Great'
Waltham resident Bill Walsh recently died at age 74.
Ask anybody — Bill Walsh was a man who got things done and brought smiles to many people’s faces.
Walsh, a beloved member of the Waltham community, died on Monday, Feb. 25 at the Maristhill Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Waltham. He was 74.
Walsh’s life could be summarized in two words – public service – which is what he spent much of life doing. Whether it was in the U.S. Army or with the Waltham Police Department or on the Waltham Arts Council, people who knew him say Walsh was always trying to make his country and community a better place.
“Bill was always about making the city better, kinder, more charitable,” said one of Walsh’s friends, Kelly Durkee-Erwin, who worked with Walsh on the Waltham Arts Council.
Walsh’s public service career started when he joined the Waltham Police Department in 1960. Soon after, he joined the U.S. Army in 1961. As a police officer, Walsh served as a patrolman, stress officer and in the police academy among other capacities. From 1982-1990, he served in the Public/Community Relations bureau.
"He certainly was a member of that force to be reckoned with," said City Councillor Kathleen McMenimen during a recent City Council meeting. "Bill was a police officer that walked the beat, never afraid to get involved in public safety for the city.
Before retiring from the police department in 1990, Walsh spearheaded new programs intended to reduce crime and improved the department’s response to bank robberies. He also organized lecturers to help businesses responds to armed robberies.
"He wanted Waltham to just be great. He was one of those people who cared about the city's history, legacy,” said Erwin.
Walsh’s spirit of service came with what one friend called an “over the top” quality Walsh sometimes displayed. Waltham Arts Council President Robert DiGregorio recalled Walsh sometimes could be a bit brusque in his drive to organize community events, such as the Concerts on The Common.
"His presentation could be a little over the top for some people, but he always got right to the point," DiGregorio said.
Walsh was instrumental in keeping the Waltham Concerts on the Common series going after another member could not longer do it, according to DiGregorio.
When Walsh set his eyes on a goal, he did everything he could do to accomplish it, according to DiGregorio. In 1998, Walsh organized the Historic Waltham Days parade during which DiGregorio saw that focus shine.
"His approach was ‘whatever you want, you got it. Don’t worry about it,’” DiGregorio said.
Walsh served on many other boards and community groups including the Council on Aging, as the Past Exalted Ruler of the Waltham Lodge of Elks No. 953 and as the Past Commander of the Joseph F. Hill American Legion Post No. 156 in Waltham.
In retirement, Walsh served as a funeral home assistant at Brasco & Sons Memorial Chapel on Moody Street where he comforted families who had lost loved ones.
Walsh is survived by his daughter, Cheryl Ann Feeley, as well as three grandchildren, Heather, Christopher and Matthew Feeley. He is also survived by his brother Michael and sisters-in-law Marie and Kay Walsh, his former wife Arlene and best friend Kathy Jackson.
Visiting hours will be held from 4 – 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28 at Brasco & Sons Memorial Chapel at 773 Moody St. Walsh’s funeral will be held Friday, March 1 at the funeral home at 1 p.m. A mass service will be held at 10 a.m. at the Sacred Heart Church at 311 River St. He will be buried with military and police honors at Mount Feake Cemetery in Waltham immediately following the service.
Donations in his memory can be dame to the Bill Walsh Scholarship Fund c/o Waltham Arts Council, 119 School St., Waltham, MA, 02453.
"[Walsh] was everything this great city was all about. He was the finest example of how selfless somebody could be and give back to their community,” said City Councillor Paul Brasco.