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Robert F. Moakley, long-time community and veteran advocate, remembered in South Boston

Posted by Patrick Rosso  October 15, 2012 11:10 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

Lew Kneeland and Robert J. Moakley, Jr., unveiling the new plaque at the South Boston World War II Monument.

With the rain letting up and the clouds slowly parting over Pleasure Bay, family, friends and admirers remembered Robert F. Moakley at the South Boston World War II Memorial Sunday.

Telling stories and singing songs like “Southie is My Hometown”, the crowd paid tribute to a man who gave so much to the community of South Boston, from his service during World War II to his work fighting for veterans.

Moakley, who also worked as a detective for the Boston Police Department and the Suffolk Superior Court, passed away in 2009 and is survived by his son and three daughters.

“He was really a selfless guy who just wanted to help people,” said Robert J. Moakley, Jr., Robert’s son. “He believed in helping out the little guy.”

Residents paid tribute to Moakley Sunday afternoon with the unveiling of a plaque at the memorial that Moakley and members of the South Boston World War II Memorial Committee worked so hard to get constructed.

“I hope when people see this memorial they think of the 216 South Boston boys on the memorial that went away to protect us and never came back,” said John Mullen, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Thomas F. Fitzgerald Post.

The marble and bronze memorial, which overlooks the South Boston waterfront and was constructed and officially dedicated in 2002, features the names of South Boston men who fought and died in World War II.

Now with Moakley’s name on a plaque at the site’s entrance, those in the neighborhood and visiting the beach won’t forget a man who worked tirelessly for veterans, his country and his neighborhood.

“My father would have been very proud to be remembered by his fellow veterans this way,” Robert J. Moakley, Jr., told the crowd. “This memorial means a lot to my family, I couldn’t have picked a better place to remember my father.”

The stories on Sunday about Moakley ranged from tall tales to touching memories of his dedication to doing the right thing and making sure his neighbors, community and veterans had the best services and opportunities.

“Bob [Robert] was a member of the great generation. He was a terrific public servant with a distinguished career,” said Representative Nick Collins. “What is clear today is we’re honoring a man who loved his country, people and his home of South Boston.”

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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