Obituary of Jack Browne
Jack Browne, retired head mechanic for the Cambridge Fire Department, passed away on Tuesday morning, January 29, 2019. He was 93 years old. Jack was born on a farm in the town of Coolgreen (Cuilin Uaithne) in County Cork, Ireland. He was the oldest of 9 children born to James and Nora Browne. He grew up and was educated in Glanmire. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 24. He spent a year living in Cambridge before enlisting in the Air Force. He spent 4 years in the Air Force during the Korean War. His major assignment was with the 770th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron stationed at Palermo Air Force Base. He also spent two years stationed in Reykjavik, Iceland. He was a natural when it came to fixing any type of engine and the Air Force quickly discovered his talents. Jack took advantage of any training and classes that were available to always improve his skills and knowledge. He achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant, earned both the National Defense Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal, and learned skills and knowledge that would carry him throughout his career.
Jack was never afraid of hard work and long work days. He often worked 2 jobs at a time. He worked for General Motors Corporation for 6 years where he honed his skills as a diesel mechanic. If it was a diesel engine, he could fix it. He fixed truck engines, generators, engines on yachts, and any other piece of machinery or equipment that had a diesel engine. At the same time, he worked evenings for Brewer Petroleum as a mechanic. He continued to devour any opportunity to further his knowledge and education. He attended evening classes at Wentworth Institute of Technology, in Boston, where he received certificates in Diesel Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering. He took every opportunity to be the best in his profession. This was a trait he proudly passed onto his children and grandchildren. He was heavily recruited by the Cambridge Fire Department who had been moving their fire engine fleet toward diesel engines. They were struggling with the maintenance and repairs and Jack was the person who could keep their fire engines on the road. He spent 32 years with the Cambridge Fire Department. In 1992, when Jack retired at the age of 67, he was their Chief Mechanic. A six day work week was the norm and Jack joked that his favorite hobby was “working”.
Jack was devoted to his family. He came to the United States with nothing and wanted to give his family the opportunities and luxuries that were not possible for him while growing up in Ireland. He lived in Cambridge for many years before moving his family to Burlington in 1974. He gave his children a strong foundation and education on which they could build upon as adults. He was there for his family whenever anyone needed anything. He fixed their cars, helped babysit his grandchildren so their parents could work, and could fix almost anything around their homes. He was willing to tackle any project that needed fixing, especially at Peggy’s house!
Jack was a man who enjoyed being proactive, active, and having a good time. He walked regularly until well into his 80’s when his hip started to slow him down. He also had the opportunity to travel. In 1972, he was fortunate to go to Russia, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Germany when Matt skated with Team USA. He traveled to South Africa to visit his sister, Joan. After discovering his long deceased brother’s unmarked grave in New Zealand, he and Joan traveled there to place a grave marker. He and Anna enjoyed many trips and cruises over the last 20 years, including Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Europe. His favorite was the Panama Canal. They also cherished their many trips back home to Ireland. He was very musically inclined. He never took lessons, but could play the accordion, harmonica, and piano (all self taught, and by ear!) He loved to dance, but not the modern stuff. He preferred having a partner and dancing to traditional Irish folk, waltzes, and fox trots. He was a regular at the Arlington Irish American Club and always one of the first people up on the dance floor with his partner and soulmate, Anna. He enjoyed being a member of the Cork Club and participating in their weekly dances. He loved Sundays spent with his children and later his grandchildren. He had a witty sense of humor and always spoke his mind. He often would write humorous notes to remind him of his day and the special blessing that occurred, even if it was just a low price gas fill up or a great meal. He was a self-made man, strong provider, role model to his children, and a loving and kind soul who touched hearts of all his family and friends.
Jack was the beloved husband and favorite dance partner of Anna (McGrath) Browne. He was the loving father of Kate Maloney of Stanford, CT, Peggy Degou of Burlington, Matthew & his wife Minde of Concord, NC, Maura Rodenhiser & her husband Alan of Ayer, Lisa Price & her husband Jack of Billerica, Sean & his wife Doreen of Billerica, and the late Burlington Patrolman Thomas J. Browne. He was the stepfather of Patricia Barry & her husband Howard of CA. He was the eldest brother of Marie Sheehan, Joan Browne, and Elish Keating all of Ireland, the late Ena Styles, Matthew, Margaret, Tom and Shamus Browne. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., Burlington (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Friday, Feb. 1 from 4-8pm. Funeral from the Sullivan Funeral Home on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 9am. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Barbara’s Church, 138 Cambridge Rd, Woburn at 10am. Services will conclude with a burial in Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Burlington. Memorials in Jack’s name may be made to Compassionate Care Hospice, 800 West Cummings Park, Suite 3100, Woburn, MA 01801. For directions, obituary & online guestbook see www.woburncatholic.org or www.sullivanfuneralhome.net
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050