Obituary of William Attaya
William Lawrence Attaya, 90, beloved husband of the late Yvette (St. Jean), passed peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Burlington on Friday morning, June 15, 2018.
Bill was born in Boston and raised in Roslindale. He was the youngest of seven children born to the late Joseph and Mary (Bacci) Attaya. Bill graduated from Mechanic Arts High School in Boston and went on to further his education receiving a BS from Tufts University and a MS in Physics at Boston University. Bill, a veteran of World War II serving his country in the United States Navy, was the recipient of the World War II Victory Medal. Bill and Yvette married in Boston and settled in Burlington in 1959 where they would raise their family.
Bill started his career working at Itek in Lexington, MA, a company which specialized in camera systems and various other reconnaissance systems. Bill subsequently started his own consulting company, Attaya Associates, which provided optical imaging services for the government. Yvette, as his executive secretary, managed his contracts, handled all of the business accounting, and typed reports. Bill’s area of focus was researching photo interpretation methodologies to best analyze imagery received from secret reconnaissance missions. He commuted to Washington DC most weeks, and once his work was finally declassified, was finally able to tell his children that he had been working for the CIA all the while!
Next to his wife and children, Bill’s greatest love was music. It was while singing in a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta put on by the Boston University Catholic Graduates Club that he would meet his future wife Yvette, who was the accompanist and music director. Bill, with his rich operatic baritone, was a favorite in many local chorales and opera companies. One highlight was singing the role of Colline in La Boheme at the Hatch Shell in Boston with the Cambridge Opera Company, joined by his children (who were aptly cast as as street urchins).
Bill and Yvette also provided music for masses at St. Malachy and for many of his children’s and grandchildren’s celebrations. Singing was his passion; he always had a song for any occasion and even when he couldn’t talk anymore towards the end of his life, still managed to sing one of his favorite songs, “Fly Me to the Moon”.
Bill loved his home and his family and enjoyed many trips with them camping and exploring New England. After retiring, he restored a 1926 Model T panel truck that he had bought as a young man and rode it in the Wakefield Fourth of July parade for many years. The grandchildren have many happy memories riding in the back of the truck, handing out candy to the people watching the parade.
Bill was the best that a man could be: good-natured, loyal, hard-working, considerate, fair, and honest. He was devoted to his wife Yvette and lovingly took care of her during her illness, missing her deeply after she passed. As a father, Bill was extraordinary: loving, compassionate, non-judgemental, and always available to lend a hand or offer sage advice. As “Paca”, he adored all of his grandchildren, thinking himself so fortunate to have the “smartest and most talented and beautiful/handsome grandchildren in the world”. Bill also had a great sense of humor and was known as a wonderful storyteller and who delivered jokes with impeccable timing.
Bill was the beloved husband of Yvette (St. Jean). He was the loving father of Mark & his wife Janice of Billerica, Christopher & his wife Jeanne of Wakefield, Ann Cope Cary & her husband Robert of Andover, Michelle Nelson & her husband Charles of Chesterfield, VA, and Carol Entzminger & her husband Gil of Petersburg, VA. Bill was the proud grandfather of Alex, Rachel, Victoria, Vanessa, Matthew, Elizabeth, Emily & Justin. Bill was the brother of the late Patricia Denton and Joseph, Arthur, John, James and Louise Attaya.
A visitation will be held at the Edward V Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St. BURLINGTON (Exit 34 off Rt. 128/95 Woburn side) on Sunday, June 17 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. followed by Funeral Services at the Funeral Home at 11 a.m. Burial will follow with Military Honors at Pine Haven Cemetery, Burlington. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Bill’s name may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverley Oaks Road, Waltham MA 02452.
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050