|When Francis M. “Mickey” Roache was a kid growing up in South Boston, he was kind, quiet and a shy boy, but he had a left hook as fast as Sugar Ray Robinson’s. You made a serious mistake if you took his soft voice lightly. He didn’t hit you very hard, but he could hit you with a rapid combination before you could even get ready to throw a punch. South Boston had a lot of boxers in those days and you were smart if you knew who they were. Shortly after Mickey Roache joined the United States Marine Corps, he became a serious contender for Marine Corps Boxing Champion. His brother Buddy and I played on the EMass Tech Tourney Championship team, defeating Belmont High School with West Point grad and Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Bob Foley. Several years later, Mickey started a boxing program with Eddie Kelly and Mike Larkin up the Walsh PAL Gym, while I started the South Boston Youth Basketball and the Softball League. We got to see a lot of each other and I got to know Mickey Roache very well.|
Mickey and I had the same objective in those days, keep the kids active in sports and you’ll keep them out of trouble. A philosophy that attracted a lot of committed coaches and volunteers. In those days, we didn’t spend much time talking about politics or attending political meetings. However, as time went by, we started getting more involved in involved in community and civic events. Mickey Roache was appointed Head of the Community Disorders by Mayor Kevin White and I ran for State Representative. For the next several years, we saw a lot of each other. The Federal District Court school busing decision tore Boston apart, but a lot of good people from throughout the City refused to give up.
Mickey kept attending neighborhood meetings from Roxbury, Charlestown, South Boston and Mattapan. Yes, he sometime got attacked by people on both sides of the conflict. But when Mayor White retired, and I ran for Mayor of Boston against some outstanding candidates like Mel King, David Finnigan, Dennis Kearney, Larry DiCara and Fred Langone . I believed that everybody felt it was time to bring the City of Boston together.
When I was elected Mayor, I knew that I had the perfect man to unite the police with the divided neighborhoods of Boston. We had been working with dedicated black and white clergy leaders like Fr. Michael Haynes, Fr. Bill Francis, Fr. Dan Mahoney, Rev Bruce Wall and Police Superintendent Billy Celester. New Boston Police Commissioner Mickey Roache was the right person to step in and provide new police leadership, which was welcome in the city.
As Mickey Roache once told Police Union President Donny Murray and me just before the start of the Boston Marathon, “God Bless and I will be waiting for you at the end of the Marathon.
Ray Flynn is the former Mayor of Boston and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.