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Robert Bernard McCarthy
August 10, 1936 ~ October 22, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old
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Robert Bernard McCarthy died on October 22, 2023, in Tarrytown, New York. He was 87. During his final days, he was surrounded by his wife of 61 years, Judith, and his four children: Robert Jr., Ann, Christopher, and Nicholas.
The fifth of eight children, Bob was born in Somerville, MA in 1936 to James and Beatrice McCarthy, both Irish immigrants. After graduating from high school in Arlington, MA in 1954, he served his country in the United States Marine Corps. Bob never envisioned attending college, but upon discharge in 1957, he attended Salem State University at the urging of his commanding officer. Bob subsequently went on to receive a Master’s in European History from UMass Amherst and received a Master’s and a Doctorate in Education from Harvard.
Upon graduating from UMass, Bob began a four-decade career in public education. In the late 1960s, he was the head of the Social Studies Department at Brookline High School, a school he truly loved. In 1971 at age 35 he became the Principal at Hanover High School in New Hampshire, noting to his family that he would never leave this job unless the position of Headmaster of Brookline High School became available. In 1980, his professional dreams were recognized as he returned to Brookline High School to serve as Headmaster.
Bob's character and moral compass manifested itself in his school leadership style; he established The Council in Hanover, and Fairness Committee in Brookline, structures that allowed students and teachers to override the Principal's decision-making authority in areas normally reserved solely for "the executive." Elements of his vision still stand in Hanover and Brookline, a testament to its enduring value and Bob's belief that the power lies in all of us, not just one individual. Bob later joined the adjunct faculty at Brown University as a Senior Associate in the Coalition of Essential Schools. The position brought him to schools around the world and once to the White House to meet President Bill Clinton. From 1997-2000 Bob served as principal at the Colegio Bolivar in Cali, Colombia, where Judy also taught. Both Bob and Judy committed their lives to public school education, and countless students and teachers have benefited from their contributions.
During his life, Bob inspired many students, had many friends, and was noted everywhere for his wry sense of humor and kind eyes. He traveled the globe for both work and fun. His over six-decade relationship with Judy began with a first date to see The Kingston Trio on Cape Cod in 1960. On Sept 7, 2023, they saw The Kingston Trio again at the Tarrytown Music Hall, which became their last date. At the time of his death, he was closely connected to his surviving brothers Charlie, Jack, and Bill, and was the beloved patriarch to his four children and seven grandchildren. He will truly be missed.