A Woman Remembered: Mary Brett McCarthy celebrated for her service, humor and friendship


DORCHESTER — Hundreds gathered this morning to pay their final respects to Mary Brett McCarthy, a longtime clerk-secretary for the Boston Police Department who worked out of Area C District 11 in Dorchester, where she grew up.

And it was to Dorchester, her home church of St. Margaret’s, that Mary returned one last time. A couple of pipers from the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums played as her casket passed through an honor guard of uniformed members of the Boston Police Department. The pallbearers escorting the casket included BPD Superintendent-in-Chief Willie Gross and other members of the department, along with Mary’s brother Bill and her brother-in-law Francis McCarthy.

Among the many gathered were Mary’s family, including her husband, Robert T. McCarthy, granddaughter Bridget Lenehan, and children, Maryellen, Sean, and Michael, who delivered a powerful eulogy prior to the funeral Mass that covered the many interests of his mother—including her love of a funny joke, cooking and baking, chatting up those who worked in the stores she shopped in, spending warm nights in New Hampshire, and always keeping tabs on those in law enforcement.

Her son Michael also told a story of how Mary came to the aid of a veteran in a wheelchair who became stuck while crossing a street in a snowstorm at a time when Mary herself was weakened from the treatment she underwent. Mary, of Quincy, died on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Pat Roche Hospice Home in Hingham, after a long period of declining health, fighting her illness with unbelievable strength and dignity.

The concelebrants who said the funeral Mass represented the current and former leadership of St. Margaret’s and other Dorchester churches as well as Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, who was out of town and unable to lead the service.

Born Bridget Mary Brett, she was the daughter of late Henry Brett and Mary Ann (Brennan) Brett of Dorchester. Mary’s oldest brother, John P. “Jack” Brett, died in September 2010. Mary also leaves her sister, Margaret “Peg” McCobb and her late husband William of Weymouth; three brothers, Harry Brett and his wife, Lucille, of Braintree, Bill and his wife, Ginnie, of Hingham, and Jim Brett and his wife, Pattie, of Dorchester. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sat with the family for the Mass.

Mary officially retired from the Boston Police Department on Friday and was posthumously given a citation by Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans. (The BPD also presented the family with a special department badge with a green shamrock that was placed in the casket for the viewing hours at the James A. Murphy & Son Funeral Home on Tuesday.)

It was said of Mary that “no one loved or respected the police more than Mary and she was dearly loved in return. She was truly a mother to them all.” She saw a number of the patrol officers that she took under her wing go on to leadership positions and Mary took particular interest in the young female officers who were assigned to the District 11 station.

Some of the stories that her former co-workers shared included her many kindnesses to the members of the police department and the community. Several people mentioned Mary’s nut rolls that she would bake for birthdays, retirements, and other special occasions.

Following the Mass, the funeral cortege wended its way to Cedar Grove Cemetery, passing by the District 11 station where members of the BPD greeted the procession.

After the burial, family and friends gathered at Florian Hall in Dorchester for a reception. As one firefighter entered the hall, he remarked to Bill Brett that “somebody big in the Police Department” must have died because traffic was so backed up to which Bill remarked that it was not an “official” but his sister, who worked as a clerk. The firefighter replied, “She must have been special.”

(Donations in Mary’s memory would be greatly appreciated and may be made to the Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry, at St. Margaret Church, 800 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, MA 02125. Mary attended this year’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast fundraiser to support the food pantry that bears her mother’s name.)

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