Francis ”Mickey” Roache

Boston is a better place because of you.

By Charles P. Burke

As we approach Christmas week and we look forward to spending time with our families, please keep the family of Francis “Mickey” Roache in your prayers.

“Mickey”, as he is known to Bostonians, passed away on Monday. He was a son of South Boston who had a profound impact on the City of Boston. Roache graduated South Boston High School in 1954 and served in the Marines.

He joined the Boston Police Department in 1968. In 1978, he was served as the head of the newly formed Community Disorders Unit.  He was named an acting lieutenant in 1983, and appointed Boston Police Commissioner by Mayor Raymond L. Flynn in 1985.Roache served in the role until 1993 when he made an unsuccessful run for Mayor. The people of Boston showed their appreciation for Roache’s service by electing him to the Boston City Council two years later, as he garnered more votes than all others seeking the council.  He repeated that feat several times before being elected as the Suffolk County Registrar of Deeds, where he served until 2015.

I had the honor of working with Mickey.  First, at the Boston Police Department serving as the Deputy Director of Administrative Services, and later serving as his Chief of Staff at the Boston City Council. Mickey and I were close for a few years.  He once told me he considered himself ”a late bloomer.” I will always appreciate his wok ethic and his smile. Mickey was not someone who wanted the spotlight, attention or even the credit. He just wanted to serve. As Police Commissioner, he served our city during some difficult years.  He told me,” I never imagined being Police Commissioner or running for office, but I was honored to have done both.” Being the Police Commissioner is a difficult job. Only those who have actually sat in their chair and been in that position can truly understand the toll it takes on them and their families.  Running for citywide public office is grueling in its own right, but Mickey did it with ease because he knew the city and its people so well.

I admired Roache as he was a visible and approachable public figure.  He had a great heart and was a good listener. When tragedy struck, and news had to be delivered to someone that their child would not be coming home, he was a compassionate messenger who seemed to have lost a piece of himself as well – due to the death of a young one happening on his watch. As time moves on, we sometimes overlook our true history. The 1970’s were a tough period for the City of Boston, and the images that portrayed us around the world created scars for Boston that still exist today. Mickey Roache and Mayor Ray Flynn dedicated themselves to help heal those wounds throughout the 1980’s.  They were approachable and extended helping hands to all who needed it.   They changed the direction of the City of Boston by bringing government to the people through the inception of community policing.

While the 1980’s were not all that long ago, the work of devoted public servants like Commissioner Roache, Mayor Flynn and so many others are often unknown or forgotten by many Bostonians. They played a significant role in improving race relations in the City of Boston and we still feel the impacts of their work today. When Roache sought elected office on the Boston City Council, his theme song was from the TV show Friends, “I’ll be there for you.”  Well, Mickey, you were there for us.  A leader, a listener and a friend.  You made Boston a better place and we thank you.