Attorney James A. O’Donovan of West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, formerly of Somerville Massachusetts, entered into rest on January 15, 2016 surrounded by his adoring family and with his wife Pauline, the love of his life, at his side. He left this world a brighter, more beautiful place, and all who had the good luck to cross paths with him are better for knowing him.
Born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, James Alexander Falcan O’Donovan was the son of Bridgetta Frances (McCarthy) O’Donovan and Timothy O’Donovan. Until the age of 8, he lived amid the rolling green hills and sandy beaches of Burgatia in Rosscarbery, County Cork. In 1931 he emigrated with his family to Uphams Corner, Dorchester, Massachusetts and in 1941 he graduated from Boston English High School.
Jim was a true patriot. He believed firmly in the American Dream and lived his life accordingly. With so many others of his “greatest generation” — including his sister Maureen, brother John, and brother Pat — Jim served his country with the United States Army in World War II. When his mother opened the door to two FBI Agents who were vetting him for high-level security clearance, her response was “Oh my God…what did he do now?!” Apparently they were unconcerned with any possible transgressions, because Jim went on to become a cryptography specialist, encoding and decoding messages and correspondence for Army Intelligence while serving in the Southwest Pacific Theater from 1943 to 1946. With his customary modesty, he rarely spoke of the War or his role in it, other than to relate the story of the time he was at a movie theater while on leave in Brisbane, Australia when a familiar rollicking laugh rose from the front row which just happened to belong to his brother Pat.
Home from the war, Jim enrolled at Boston University under the GI bill. He had a lifelong passion for baseball — playing varsity catcher for Boston University and semi-professional baseball with the Boston Park League’s Linehan Club of South Boston, and earning an invitation to try out as a catcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan, through glorious victories and heartbreaking losses alike, and spent many happy Sundays alternating with lightning speed on the clicker between football, golf, the military history channel and his favorite Westerns.
While working as a postal carrier for the United States Postal Service, Jim received his Bachelor of Arts in 1949 and continued on to Suffolk University Law School where he received his Juris Doctor in 1953. He was admitted to the bar in 1955 and commenced a legal career that shone brightly for five decades. Jim was guided by an unwavering sense of fairness, and began his career with the Voluntary Defenders Committee in 1956, a precursor to the modern public defender’s office. From 1960 to 1966 he served the City of Somerville as its City Solicitor, and subsequently went into private practice at 6 Beacon Street in Boston with his dear friend Albert Hutton Jr. Until his death he practiced law with his son Sean. He was a renowned criminal defense attorney and litigator throughout his career. To those he encountered in the courtroom, he was a fearsome but charming adversary; always gallant, always courteous, but fiercely dedicated to the principles of equity and justice.
Jim was truly young at heart, always open for new experiences and new opportunities, such as the time he trekked his entire young family from Somerville to Mexico for the summer to improve his Spanish. Language immersion at its finest! He was a voracious reader, gobbling up presidential biographies, military strategy, Irish history and medieval history alike. A well-worn dictionary was always by his chair. He also loved to be outside, especially when it involved a nine-iron and fairways. Golfing with his sons and grandsons was one of his greatest pleasures and he passed many golden days with them on the course.
Jim also took great joy in his weekly poker games with the West Yarmouth gang, especially when he broke the bank! He loved the company of his friends. Jim had a marvelous sense of humor. He loved a bawdy joke or a silly song and he took great pleasure in teasing his beloved Pauline. Each anniversary he would loudly exclaim in mock horror and surprise that they had spent too many years together. This past June he had the good fortune of announcing that he had now spent “65 years with the wrong woman!” Anyone who ever saw them together knew that she was, in fact, the one and only woman for him.
It is impossible to describe everything that Jim meant to his family, his friends, his clients, and colleagues. He was the first to congratulate or offer a word of encouragement, and he was always ready with a kind word and wide smile. He was a loyal friend, confidante to his grandchildren, and mentor to young attorneys. He was adored by his five sons and their wives, and idolized by his ten grandchildren and two great-grand-children. Jim’s greatest joy and inspiration in his life was his family. His sons and grandchildren were his pride and joy, and the love he shared with them illuminated the world around them.
In addition to his wife Pauline, Jim is survived by five sons: James D. O’Donovan of Somerville; Kevin O’Donovan, his wife Alessandra and their children Alexander, Elizabeth and Katherine, of Somerville; Brian O’Donovan, his wife Denise and their children Seamus, Devin, Aidan and Addison; Michael O’Donovan, his wife Gina and their children Kaleigh and Daniel, of Medford; and Sean O’Donovan and his wife Peri, of Somerville. Jim is also survived by his grand-daughter Cari-Anne McAuley and her husband David, of Marshfield, and two great-grand-children, Hunter and Madison McAuley of Marshfield. He is also survived by numerous loving nieces, nephews, and cousins, and many devoted friends.
The family would like to especially mention the incredible staff at Mayflower Nursing Center in West Yarmouth, who guided us along this painful journey with love and compassion.
We will never be the same without him but we are blessed to have him part of us forever.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
4:00 – 8:00
Doherty Funeral Home
Somerville, MA 02144
Thursday, January 21, 2016
St. Clement Church
64 Warner Street
Medford, MA 02155
Thursday, January 21, 2016
MA National Cemetery, Bourne, MA
Off Connery Avenue
Bourne, MA 02532