Dan McCarthy: A Friend
by Dick Moore
When Dan Mc Carthy died the world lost a rare treasure: a devoted partner, parent, grandparent, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. Dan was a scholar, an engaged citizen, a lover of poetry, literature, music, a gifted conversationalist and a connoisseur of good food, wine and good times
Dan was a walker far beyond the usual definition of the work having trudged the Camino pilgrim route fourteen times.
I met Dan when he was a priest of the Diocese of Providence serving a curate at a Portuguese parish in Fox Point. We met at a religious education convention and became friends. Dan drafted my wife Mary Pat and \I to serve on his marriage preparation team.
Dan had recently returned for some years of service in Brazil with Neil Lynch, Dick Maynard and some other priests of the diocese. They ministered to various communities along the Amazon River. Dan had wonderful stories about his time there. One memorable one is of their staging a funeral with coffin and the usual funeral rituals for social justice. It embarrassed the oppressive government and they soon got their walking papers.
When Dan decided to leave the priesthood, my wife and I helped him furnish and decorate his apartment. Our shared circle of friends included Mary Reilly and Catherine Murray among others. We met for dinner parties and sometimes raucous good times in one another’s homes.
Dan bought a sail boat and we spent many days plying the waters of the Narraganset Bay. A particularly memorable day was sailing in Newport harbor among the tall ships gathered there for the bicentennial.
It was a one of our shared dinner parties that Catherine Murray invited her colleague Claire Aranson to join the festivities. Claire arrived on a bicycle without a light. As the party went late and the night was dark, Dan offered to drive slowly ahead of Claire lighting her way.
That evening was the beginning of Dan and Claire’s relationship. At the time however, Claire had other things in mind. She had planned for some time to spend time in Sweden at a folk school learning the culture, language and arts of her family’s heritage. These plans and Claire fulfilling them did not deter Dan. He followed Claire to Sweden and won her heart under the northern lights.
Dan and Claire married, bought a house, bought another house, moved to the country and welcome Kirstin to their family. From her first breath to Dan’s last breath, Kirstin was the apple of Dan’s eye. Her every accomplishment (and there were many and continue to be) a source of his marvel and boasting.
Claire became ill with a degenerative disease. She wished to live and die at home. Dan and Kirstin, with the support of Claire’s weaving group, neighbours and friends fulfilled her wish.
Dan’s work was in the field of mental health as a counsellor and administrator. He eventually worked for the state overseeing a network of mental centres in the state. This model of service delivery became a national standard of how such services are delivered.
In his later working years and his retirement Dan met and became a partner to Chris Stinson, the second love of his life. Early in their friendship, Dan supported Chris’ son Gabe who enjoyed extracurricular activities but lived far from school. Dan offered to pick him up and drive him home. Chris commented to me later that this kindness convinced her that Dan was a “keeper”.
Dan and Chris traveled extensively, enjoyed concerts, plays and time with family and a wide circle of friends. When Dan’s home became more of a burden than a joy, Chris suggested they build an addition onto her home, they live together and care for one another as they grew old.
Tragically, it was while delivering the last load of things form his house to Chris’ that his car was struck and he died.
I cannot end without a word about Dan’s parents Annie and Mike, his brother Gerry and his wife Jane, their daughters and families and his cousins the Tobin’s. It was from this good Irish stock that Dan learned of hard work, solidarity with the workers and the poor, loyalty to family, the church and the nation.
Dan McCarthy, you were my dear friend. I will always hold you in my heart.