It brought shock and sadness to so many current and former residents of South Boston, Dorchester and beyond when the news broke 2 weeks ago that John ‘Jack’ Dever had passed on. But after a while, when the initial effect of being stunned at that news that ‘Jack’, a man well-known and much loved, no longer walked among us settled in, the fond memories began to kick in and the stories, oh so many stories, began to be shared about this unique guy who touched the lives of literally thousands in such positive ways.
It was rare that Jack’s name came up in conversations, and it came up often year after year and probably still will, when a smile didn’t cross the faces of those who spoke of him. The smile came because, along with being so many things in his life – a US Army veteran, a school teacher, the world’s most famous life guard, a coach and even the guy who helped start the South Boston Youth Hockey League and helped keep the famed L Street Brownies the prominent organization that it is – he was a character who could find humor in almost anything.
In fact, Jack’s own smile was contagious, and it always seemed to be there. He could turn a boring or dry event or conversation into an adventure. He had the knack of putting all he came into contact with at ease and hanging out with him would often be a memorable experience for people of every age group.
Jack Dever, being the type of guy he was, prompted his many friends and family members to make a decision. They decided they weren’t just going to honor him with the traditional wake, funeral and burial, which they did, but rather they wanted to give him a special sendoff worthy of the special man he was and one that Jack himself would have loved and surely did. So on the Saturday before Easter, dozens of his friends and family members gathered at Woody’s L Street Tavern and made a toast in Jack’s honor and in his memory, swapped a bunch of great stories and then they all walked down to the L Street Bath House/ Curley Recreation Center, led by Michael Casper playing the bagpipes, where there were more of Jack’s friends and family waiting to join in. A wreath was thrown into the water dedicated to Jack and then the group went in for a traditional L Street Brownie style swim. The weather was cold, it was raining, and the ocean water was frigid, but no one cared at all. They did it for Jack. Swimming year round was one of Jack’s greatest pleasures and it’s a pretty sure bet he was with the crowd in spirit, loving every minute of it.
This was a wonderful tribute and send off to a one of kind, good man who will be missed. To the Dever Family, this community is very sorry for your loss which was also a loss to Jack’s many fans and the legions of friends he made over the years. Yet, it is surely the case that the memory of Jack Dever will occupy a special place in the hearts of all who knew him forever. God Bless you Jack and thank you for all you did.