Celebrating the life of Michael Dennis Maher
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Mike’s love for Moe was beyond measure.
They had three wonderful children Mike loved immensely, the late Nathan Maher, Emily Maher, Brian Maher and Brian’s fiancé, Sara Andrusiw.
He is survived by his younger sister, Charlene (Maher) Bilodeau, of Rehoboth, and her family.
Mike was the proud son of Dennis Maher and Cynthia (Crocker) Maher, of East Providence and was the beloved Papa Mike to his nieces, nephews and “grands.”
He met the love of his life, Maureen, and sparked an adventure of a lifetime. The couple was married in 1982 and moved into the Big Pink House, known as the Inn at Quality Hill, the following year.
While building a family with Moe, he worked more than 30 years at Arkwright Incorporated as a graphic designer and chemical technician. It was there he met his lifelong friend, Richard Rupp, of North Kingstown.
Just as Mike loved to learn, he also loved to teach.
After leaving Arkwright, he took on the role of permanent substitute teacher in the Central Falls School District for many years before serving as a transitional coordinator at St. Mary’s Home for Children, George N. Hunt Campus School, where he was working at the time of his passing.
He was an active member of the East Providence Athletic Club since turning 18-years-old. He later served on the board and tended bar.
Papa Mike spent many years bringing holiday magic to families across Southern New England.
He was Santa, complete with a real beard, of which he was very proud.
Mike Maher was the heart and spirit to many.
While his passing was sudden and unexpected, the love and legacy he leaves behind are not.
His spirit is magnanimous, and like the Christmas magic, will live in our hearts forever.
Due to COVID-19, no services will be held at this time. A memorial mass and celebration of life will be held, when possible.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made in Mike’s name to the National Tay-Sachs & Allied Disease Association, via phone (617) 277-4463 or mail 2001 Beacon St., Suite 204, Boston, MA 02135.
A TRIBUTE FROM RICHARD RUPP
From Richard Rupp:
Mike and I first met on February 10, 1975. We were 40% of a group of men that had been hired into Arkwright’s new Print Division. The belief was that we were getting in on the ground floor of what would become a million dollar operation and get a shot at the opportunities which would spring forth from that growth. Mike had grown up in East Providence. I was from Bristol. Both of us were sons of working class parents from the WWII generation. Arkwright never delivered on the promise of professional growth but destiny had provided me with someone to share all the good times and bull shit that life had to throw at us.
Arkwright was located in the hinterlands of Coventry, which seemed a long way from the East Bay where we had both grown up. Mike really got into it and moved into a tent in the Ginny B. Campground in Foster for the summer months.
In those early years we had a half day off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. At 11:00 AM in the morning on December 24th a few of us went out in search of somewhere to find a cup of good cheer before heading home. The only place open was a dive bar on Clyde Hill. The most memorable thing about that day was when the barkeep said to one customer: “What’s the matter, your hands cold,” in response to the latter’s complaining about the room temperature. Mike nudged me and I glanced over to see that said customer had been through some tragedy which had cost him. In place of his hands were two mechanical hooks. Funny what you remember. That was the first time we went out for a drink on the last working day before Christmas. We would do that for the next forty-four years. Sometimes in one of a variety of groups and other times just the two of us, but we didn’t miss a single year.
The following Christmas I got to see Mike’s Santa Claus persona for the first time. Doris Ann was a secretary who predated us at Arkwright. They were engaged by then, but more important to my narrative was the fact that her family owned a really cool Santa suit and Mike had brought it to work. Well, if you were looking for a way to spend several hours at a bar and never have to pay for a drink one was to put Mike into a really cool Santa suit on Christmas Eve and turn him loose.
Time moved on. My wife, Linda, and I bought a home. We had our son, Tim. Mike was now married to Doris Ann. They had an apartment in that section of West Warwick known by the locals as “living in L.A.,” a reference to the lower Arctic section of town. Their apartment building nearly burned down when one of the neighboring tenants fired up the charcoal grill a bit too close to the building’s vinyl siding.
As the seventies ended so did the Print Division and we had to choose between leaving Arkwright and becoming second shift mill rats. I had a new mortgage, a preschool child, and the economy sucked. We ended up on the off shift. Meanwhile Doris Ann decided she preferred the company of her high school boyfriend. At the time this seemed like quite the sad state of affairs but in looking back at it now their divorce was a fortunate thing. Not terribly long after that Mike went off on a road trip with some folks to a blue grass festival in Virginia. He came back talking about this girl named Maureen.
We made it to the day shift. Mike and Mo married. They bought the 80 Spring Street property. I remember the Joy when Nathan was born. An Irishman longs for two things Mike told me: a piece of land and a son. Now he had both. But fulfillment wasn’t to last long. I can never forget the day he told me Nathan wouldn’t live long enough to start school. Ricky Pimental was another Arkwright employee. He was renting the third floor apartment at 80 Spring Street and he became quite fond of and developed a relationship with Nathan. Not long after Nathan passed, Rickey died of Aids.
Time kept moving. In ’88 Local 1554 ACTWU went on strike for five weeks. I was alternating time between the picket line and divorce court. After sixteen years Linda decided she didn’t want to be married anymore.
The nineties brought us Emily and then Brian, and of course great joy. Sadness came again with the passing of Dennis Maher, Mike’s father. I only met him a couple of times. I remember that he used to make a mean stuffed clam.
The nineties also gave rise to the Bald Brothers and those legendary Thursday nights. Thursday was payday. Peter Townsend, Bob Nobriga, Mike and I would leave work at 3:00PM, head out and play as many holes of golf as we could get in before the sun set, go out to supp on anything not vegetarian and beer, head out to the Last Call Saloon until last call, then wind up on the steps of city hall with a Haven Brothers burger.
I remained single for eleven years. In that time I was trying not to date anybody’s sister or friend. Mike and Mo determined that Jo Ann and I were a good match and wouldn’t let the matter drop. We were married in 1999. We have often joked that we should be buying Mike and Mo a bottle of wine on our wedding anniversary.
In the spring of 2004 Mike left Arkwright. He probably lowered the intelligence level of the whole place by a couple of points. Obviously we stayed in touch. The past couple of years we managed to go out for breakfast around the time of the full moon each month. We always said it wasn’t the food but the company that brought us back to the Beacon Diner time and again. Then the coronavirus shut the Beacon. After eight weeks we decided to try a little social distancing with a beer and a cigar on my front porch. Mike was fine, happy. When he left he said he would see me the next full moon. That may be the first time he broke his word to me. Twenty four hours later he was in Miriam Hospital. Neither I, nor the Beacon should it ever reopen, will see him again.
He will be missed.
I don’t know what I am going to do the last working day before Christmas this year.
Richard A. Rupp May 7, 2020
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