By Josh Resnek
Saturday morning, the Immaculate Conception Church was packed to capacity with the friends, relatives and much of Everett’s officialdom for the funeral of William A. Hart.
For the past 8 months facing serious illness, Mr. Hart’s will to live didn’t fail him but his body did.
Mr. Hart died February 28 at the Whidden Hospital, in the city where he was born and where he spent his life.
He was 87.
He was known as “Booba”, a popular man from a popular family with his son Billy Hart one of the best known and most highly respected men in the city.
Mr. Hart’s casket was draped with the traditional Pall. The Mass began with mourners singing: “On Eagles Wings.”
Danielle Hart, one of Mr. Hart’s beloved granddaughters read a letter from her sister Gabrielle who is studying abroad in Venice, Italy.
“There are moments when words fall short, when they can’t adequately express love and loss or measure of character,” Gabreille wrote, Danielle read.
“This is that moment and yet I feel I must try to honor a man whose life put so much purpose into mine. Bill Hart to many was a tough guy, a family man, a man that garnered respect. And while he was all those things to me, he was my gramps – strong as a bull, soft as a teddy bear to me,” Gabrielle added for Danielle to read.
Many in the large gathering wiped away tears as Danielle read her sister’s poignant words.
Chris Connolly, a neighbor and lifelong friend of the Harts, delivered the eulogy.
He described Mr. Hart as a great neighbor, a wonderful and loving husband and father and an adoring grandfather.
“Billy, Kim, Danielle and Gabrielle you were blessed with a wonderful father and grandfather. Please know he is at peace now and reunited with his love, Dolores.
“As we leave here today please remember this “Lion of a Man” and the wonderful life he led,” Connolly said.
At the conclusion of the funeral mass, the Pall was replaced with an American flag draped over the casket.
As this was being done, parishioners sang with pride the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Outside the church the equivalent of a reunion followed.
The many friends of Mr. Hart and his family who were inside paying respects were now outside the church hugging and shaking hands.
The funeral procession to Woodlawn Cemetery was led by the Everett Police Department.
Cafasso Funeral Home employees maintained order and calm for the long procession into Woodlawn Cemetery.
Shivering mourners attending the burial stood in the cold and dampness as the funeral service continued. It was a testament to Mr. Hart’s popularity as well as that of his family that so many came to the service at the cemetery.
Three US Air Force officers attended the gravesite ceremony. They performed the traditional folding of the American flag and presented it to Mr. Hart’s son Billy.
Another officer played Taps by bugle.
In a moment of humor Mr. Hart would certainly have appreciated, Immaculate Conception Church’s Director of Faith Rick Randazzo concluded his interment rites by assuring the throng: “Not to worry. We won’t be doing the traditional Irish toast!”
Billy Hart, Kim Hart, siblings of the deceased and granddaughter Danielle and Phyllis Brady, Mr. Hart’s sister, laid white roses on the top of the casket as their final goodbye.
Following the burial, the mourners went back to the Off the Boat restaurant in Revere for a sumptuous meal compliments of the Hart Family.
One year after Dolores (Mr. Hart’s wife) passed away in May of 2012, Mr. Hart suffered a catastrophic brain aneurism. At that time, the family was told he wouldn’t make it, that there was no coming back.
“We’re not leaving him here. Let’s get him to Boston and give him a shot at coming back,” said son Billy Hart. Four days later, following complex brain surgery, William Hart was sitting up and having tea and toast.
“This tells about my father’s will to live. He had incredible personal strength,” said his son Billy.
William Albert Hart was the oldest son of seven siblings born into a struggling Irish Everett family dealing with the Depression and the difficulties of the era.
He would say he came from Woodlawn and most of the time the family lived in Woodlawn but in different houses, according to Billy Hart.
His childhood wasn’t easy. The family moved around a lot.
As a younger man coming of age in this city when it was a far different place than it is today, he was known as one of the toughest guys in the city.
He was a 200 pounder, 6’ 2”, with piercing blue eyes and a powerful physique.
“I never start a fight but I never shy away from one,” Mr. Hart liked to say when recalling his youth, reported son Billy.
He enjoyed sports and was notably recognized because of his abilities on the football field.
At Everett High School he was a standout athlete and football player playing under the legendary Moody Sarno and Denny Gildea.
He graduated from EHS in 1948.
He became an ironworker and then suffered a dramatic injury in 1959 when a load of steel fell on him crushing his foot and impacting his ability to walk.
Once again, according to his son Billy, Mr. Hart came back and stronger than ever.
He got a job with General Electric in Everett and just to prove how he had recovered, he walked to GE every day.
Mr. Hart met Dolores, his late wife, at Hampton Beach where he was a life guard in the early 1950’s. Mrs. Hart was the love of his life.
They married at St. Therese’s Church, October, 1954.
He was absolutely devoted to her and to his children, according to son Billy.
For most of his adult life until he died on February 28, Mr. Hart lived at 817 Broadway.
Mr. Hart was an avid reader.
“He loved history and anything to do with animals and animal life. My father was a smart guy but never had the opportunity to further his education. He was too busy working for us,” said son Billy.
Mr. Hart’s adult life was inextricably connected with his childhood friends.
He remained close with Dan Morrison, who worked at Sweetlife in Chelsea, Jack Oram, another Woodlawn guy who was also an ironworker, and John Hanson, also a Woodlawn guy and a fellow ironworker.
They are all gone now.
“My father was an American patriot. He was a proud Air Force veteran. He didn’t understand even to the end those who disrespected the flag and the nation,” son Billy recalled.
Mr. Hart was also a public man, serving for many years as the city’s Director of Parks and Recreation. He was appointed by the late former Mayor of Everett Edward Connolly.