Longtime Mashpee selectman John J. Cahalane was laid to rest on Friday, June 14, after a funeral service at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home on Algonquin Avenue and a procession that wound its way through Mashpee and made one last pass by town hall.
At the service, eulogies were given by selectman Carol A. Sherman, assistant town manager Wayne E. Taylor, and town manager Rodney C. Collins. Deacon Frank Fantasia led a prayer.
Mr. Cahalane died June 8. He had been serving his seventh term on the board of selectmen.
In attendance at the service were a variety of people from Mashpee: school and town officials, town department heads, businessmen, representatives from the Mashpee Chamber of Commerce, leaders of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and residents.
The eulogies paid respect to Mr. Cahalane for his institutional knowledge, the guidance he provided the town during his 20-year tenure on the board of selectmen, memories of the nightclub that he owned called the Farm, and his gracious and approachable personality.
Ms. Sherman said that it was appropriate that the funeral was held on Flag Day because Mr. Cahalane was a “true patriot.” She also called him the town’s father.
She spoke of the three lessons that her friend and fellow selectman taught her.
For one, she was told not to talk about things she did not have all the facts about, because she would look “stupid” otherwise; second, he taught her to listen; and third, Mr. Cahalane told her to keep speakers during public comment at board meetings to two minutes.
The selectman did not like it when people spoke for too long at town meetings. On the funeral memorial cards was a picture of Mr. Cahalane with one of his popular refrains: “Keep it short.” Over two minutes, Mr. Cahalane would say, and speakers begin repeating themselves.
Mr. Taylor, who served on the board with Mr. Cahalane, said that Mr. Cahalane taught him how to build a consensus with the rest of the selectmen. He also taught him how to listen, or as Mr. Cahalane told him, “you can’t hear when you’re always talking.”
Mr. Taylor also heralded Mr. Cahalane’s impact on the town, saying that many buildings were built during his tenure, including the fire station, council on aging building, the library and others.
He called his friend and fellow selectman “the mayor of Mashpee” and said that his absence will leave a large crater in the town.
“But your presence will always be felt,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Collins called the long-time selectman the anchor for the town, a compass that provided direction, and the red and green beacons providing safe passage for a boater in the dark. He said that Mr. Cahalane could be blunt and forceful, but was equally compassionate and caring.
The town manager said that Mr. Cahalane remained focused on what the common people of the town wanted. He said that a resident in need meant as much to Mr. Cahalane as a congressman or senator.
In a moment of humor, Mr. Collins said of the restaurant Mr. Cahalane owned in the 1980s: “What occurred on the Farm, stayed on the Farm.” He also noted the awards Mr. Cahalane received over his career, including the municipal service award from the chamber of commerce, and that that he was a member of the Elks and Mashpee Men’s Clubs.
“John is a person you will never forget,” the town manager said.
Following the ceremony, more than 50 vehicles in the funeral procession headed up Route 151 and eventually to town hall for “one final salute” as Mr. Collins called it. Mr. Cahalane was known to frequent town hall.
On Friday, a patrolman held traffic back for a few minutes while the black hearse pulled up to the front door of town hall and stopped for a minute before turning back onto Great Neck Road North toward the town cemetery.