By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
PROSPECT — Eugene “Gene” McCarthy left his mark on Prospect in more ways than one.
McCarthy, the town’s former longtime assistant director of public works, died April 16. He was 83 years old.
The late former Mayor George Sabo Jr. hired McCarthy in March 1977, before even Mayor Robert Chatfield’s tenure in office started.
“From that day forward, Gene molded the public works department to what it is today and taught me an awful lot about construction,” said Chatfield, who was first elected in November 1977.
McCarthy retired in 2017.
The Town Charter states the mayor is the director of public works, but it is the assistant that runs the department. Chatfield said McCarthy, who referred to him as “kid,” brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in construction to the public works department.
McCarthy’s legacy in town stretches far beyond public works.
Mark Capanna, who succeeded McCarthy as assistant public works director in 2017, said he was like a father to him.
The same can be said for countless young athletes who grew up in town.
“He was everybody’s father,” said Kathleen McCarthy, second oldest of McCarthy’s six children.
McCarthy was active in local youth sports, including coaching Long River Middle School girls basketball, Prospect Little League, Pop Warner Football and Prospect Youth Recreational Basketball.
Kathleen McCarthy said her father coached every team she and her siblings played on growing up, and he remained involved well after they stopped playing. Players on his teams still called her father “Coach McCarthy,” she said, after they grew up and had children of their own. Many fondly remember rides in McCarthy’s green town pickup truck, “Prospect Unit 3,” she said.
“He was also everybody’s taxi for sports,” Kathleen McCarthy said.
Kathleen McCarthy said her father was raised in a close-knit Irish family and learned the importance of being a family. He was all about family, she said, and he was dedicated to ensuring that the children he worked with learned lessons that would carry on with them throughout their lives.
“You just knew he was a guy who loved those kids,” said Town Council member Patricia Geary, who added her children still remember their playing days with McCarthy.
Town Council member Larry Fitzgerald, a former president of the Prospect Little League, said McCarthy always went out his way to help the Little League and take care of the fields. He added McCarthy made sure all the fields and parks in town where in good shape for the children.
“Gene was always willing to help with the fields; very dedicated to the town and all the kids in town,” Fitzgerald said.
Kathleen McCarthy said her father was devoted to the town. Even if it was Christmas Eve, she said if it was snowing her father’s first priority was to make sure the streets were clear so people were safe.
“He just loved the town and the people of the town,” she said.
Chatfield said McCarthy was a dedicated employee, husband, father and grandfather.
“He’s truly going to be missed in more ways than the town can imagine,” Chatfield said.
McCarthy is survived by his wife, Diana, four children and six grandchildren. He was predeceased by two sons.
Calling hours for McCarthy are Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Prospect Memorial/Palmerie Family Funeral Home, 72 Waterbury Road. Funeral services are Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Church, 4 Union City Road. The funeral procession leaves the funeral home at 10:30 a.m. Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery.