As the crowd gets ready for the upcoming 2011 Bronx St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 13, the festivities will serve not just as a celebration of Irish heritage and of community, but also a solemn remembrance of deceased loved-ones.
The members of the Throggs Neck Benevolent Association parade committee have chosen to posthumously honor 17 community members whose lives exemplify the silent, everyday heros who make a community a better place to live.
These people lead lives of quiet resolve and perseverance, contributing to their the Throggs Neck community in altruistic ways and by raising well-cared-for families.
Named honorary grand marshals for this year’s parade are Gerald Baumann Sr., Nora Browne, Joann Duffy Collins, William Donovan, James Hooks, Joanne Jackson, John “Jack” Kelly, Mary Sullivan Koester, Frank McSherry, Anna Mullins, Bridget O’Farrell, Joseph O’Grady, Gerard Shadwick, Michael Tierney and John Walker, whose families will march behind grand marshals Pat Devine and Mary Holt Moore and honored clergy Sr. Christine Hennessay when the parade kicks-off from the intersection of E. Tremont and Lafayette avenues at noon.
Intensely proud of his Irish heritage, Michael Tierney would have been honored to be honored, his wife Pat Tierney said.
“He was a rough and tumble man, but very proud of his Irish heritage and enjoyed being part of the scene,” Pat Tierney said.
“Our family, including our five children and ten-and-a-half grandchildren, will be there marching in the parade and will be remembering him.”
He was a construction worker to whom she was married for 50 years, working his way up from laborer to site safety manager, and Tierney was described by his wife as a man with a big heart who was always willing to extend a hand to others.
For honorary grand marshal Mary Sullivan Koester, who spent nearly her entire lifetime living in a two-block radius of the house on Wilcox Avenue that her father purchased in the depths of the Great Depression in 1931, the parade was a great local event.
“She always used to take us to the parade downtown, but it was a lot easier seeing a parade celebrating Irish heritage when they bring the parade to you, especially for a senior citizen,” her son Ed Koester said.
“As she got older, the parade became more important to her.”
She was a devoted member of St. Benedict’s Parish, an employee of Albert Einstein College of Medicine for 30 years, and considered her greatest accomplishment to be her family, working hard to raise children who had sound values and a moral compass, family remembered.
Like so many of the other honorary grand marshals, Gerard Shadwick, probably would have shunned the spotlight, but would likely be smiling down from Heaven knowing he was being honored, his wife Peggy Shadwick said.
“If he were here, he would have probably not let you honor him in the parade,” Shadwick said. “He was very much a behind-the-scenes kind of a guy and you would have had to convince him.”