City mourns passing of Brian McCarthy


NASHUA – Once he recovered from the shock upon hearing the news Monday morning regarding the unexpected death of veteran city Alderman Brian McCarthy, fellow Alderman at Large Mike O’Brien Sr. knew just what to do next.

“It’s time now for me to sit down and reflect on all the wonderful things Brian has done for our community over so many years,” O’Brien said.

“Early this morning, we not only lost a dedicated city official: I lost a very good personal friend,” O’Brien added Monday.

From a somber City Hall to the far reaches of Nashua’s borders, O’Brien’s sentiments were echoed thousands of times Monday. The day before a long-anticipated midterm election suddenly turned into a day of mourning and sadness in response to the loss of a man one colleague deemed all but irreplaceable for his deep, institutional knowledge of the city.

Brian S. McCarthy, an alderman for 25 years, including five terms as board president, suffered a medical emergency as he and fellow Alderman Rick Dowd were leaving Gillette Stadium after Sunday night’s New England Patriots game.

Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was transported to Norwood Hospital, just north of Foxborough, Massachusetts, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

McCarthy, 64, had lived in southwest Nashua since 1980. He is survived by wife, Gloria; daughter, Kimberly; and son, John.

Services are pending.

Mayor Jim Donchess called McCarthy “a very important figure in city government for a long, long time.

“Brian loved the city, and he loved our downtown. He couldn’t have been more committed to moving the city forward,” Donchess said.

Of all McCarthy’s contributions during his decades of service, it was his work as chairman of the high school Building Committee and his role in the city’s acquisition of Pennichuck Water Works that brought him the most satisfaction and pride, friends and colleagues agree.

“He was very proud of the school projects,” Donchess said, referring to the construction of Nashua High School North in 2003-04 and the concurrent major renovations of Nashua High School South.

Likewise, McCarthy “was an advocate for, and instrumental in, the city’s acquisition of Pennichuck” in 2010, Donchess added.

McCarthy began his City Hall career as a member of the Zoning Board, and a short time later was elected to his first of five terms as Ward 5 alderman.

He was re-elected to his current Alderman at Large seat in 2017, and during the organizational meeting at the start of this year, was again named president by a unanimous vote of his fellow aldermen.

Because more than six months remain in McCarthy’s current term – it would have expired at the end of 2019 – the city will need to schedule a special election to fill his seat, according to Donchess.

The city has 90 days to schedule and conduct the special election, he added.

Alderman at Large and board Vice President Lori Wilshire said in a social media post that McCarthy “will be remembered for his selfless efforts in making Nashua a great place to live.

“He was a mentor and a friend. I will truly miss him,” Wilshire added.

City Emergency Management Director Justin Kates said he will remember McCarthy as a “fair and thoughtful” man who “provided great insight during discussions about major investments or the future of the city.”

Kates, as with so many others who served with McCarthy, said he was a tremendous source of information.

“We had the ability to leverage Brian’s extensive experience and technical knowledge,” Kates said, noting that “many political officials” need to “ask city staff questions about work being done in the city.”

And McCarthy came prepared. “He would always have the background on the issue, previous attempts to resolve it, and a potential solution moving forward,” Kates said.

“Brian was exactly what you would hope for in a citizen legislator,” he added.

Several organizations also took to social media to pay tribute to McCarthy.

“It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to a friend and prominent figure in the Nashua community,” a representative of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce wrote on behalf of the agency.

The writer praised McCarthy’s leadership “across multiple school-focused projects (and) as chairman of the Performing Arts Center Steering Committee … his community-first attitude will leave a legacy for Nashua for years to come.”

He was “passionate about his community and poured his heart and soul into the betterment of Nashua,” the writer added.

Former three-term Alderman Ben Clemons called McCarthy “a mentor, a leader … someone who I aspire to be like.

“Brian was a man of great integrity” who had “an amazing wit and great sense of humor,” Clemons said. “He had a brilliant mind … and a love for Nashua unmatched by anyone.”

Ward 7 Alderwoman June Caron, who occasionally worked with McCarthy on projects when she was with the city Recreation Department, called McCarthy “a gentleman” who “didn’t mind if you disagreed with him.

“Brian respected people’s positions. He was always someone you could talk to,” Caron said. “I always found him very helpful, especially when I came on the board.”

United Way of Greater Nashua President Mike Apfelberg said he learned of McCarthy’s passing during a Monday radio show.

“Brian has been such an anchor in our community for so many years,” Apfelberg wrote in a social media post. “It was always clear that he loved Nashua and all of its residents. He was a warm, caring, and insightful individual, who I will miss.”

One of McCarthy’s closest friends was Ward 2 Alderman Rick Dowd, who was with McCarthy when he collapsed late Sunday night.

Dowd, struggling to come to terms with the series of events, said they were in the car leaving Gillette Stadium when McCarthy fell ill.

“We were still on Patriots’ property, so help was there in seconds,” Dowd said, referring to a nearby police officer who called medical personnel and began to administer first aid.

He recalled consoling Kim McCarthy, who went to the game with her father and Dowd, as medical personnel tended to McCarthy before rushing him to the hospital.

“We lost a great man … a man who is close to irreplaceable for his knowledge of the city,” Dowd said.

Their friendship “goes back decades … even before we were aldermen,” Dowd added. “He was a very close friend. I talked to him almost daily.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, or or @Telegraph_DeanS.