In memory: The life of Bill Bagley recalled at funeral: “Drink the Good Wine First”


Submitted by Michael Laurano

“Bill” Bagley, Jr. Memorial Service Held Saturday 3/21/15 –    Standing Room Only –

The immense Romanesque  Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Revere Massachusetts once aptly described as a veritable “basilica” by the late Boston Cardinal William O’Connell is the largest church building in its vicinity. The church was filled beyond full seating capacity on Saturday morning, March 21st, for a memorial Mass celebrated “in loving memory” of East Boston native and retired pharmacist, William Morgan (“Bill”) Bagley, Jr.

Scores of persons, many recalling and speaking of Bill’s kindnesses during the years he practiced pharmacy in East Boston and Winthrop, others coming from out of State, some from Europe and Asia, arriving by car, bus, and taxi  began to fill the church parking lot an hour before the service began at 11:00 AM. The celebrant and homilist Rev. Brian McHugh of Somerville, Mass. said that upon arrival he had difficulty in finding a parking space. Streaming in to the piping of a lone kilted bagpiper on the front plaza later arrivals found “standing room only” inside the cavernous ornate edifice for which construction began in 1926 as an Italian “national parish” church. Artistically restored in recent years it is now the impressive house of worship for an area comprising three former Roman Catholic parishes.

The Processional Hymn was the traditional Irish melody, “Morning Has Broken”.  The first reading, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, was by Bill’s Niece, Cheryl Kiernan. The second reading, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5-1, was by Bill’s brother, Robert Bagley. The Offertory Hymn sung in Latin was “Ave Maria” during which the Presentation of the Gifts of Bread and Wine was made by Caroline Kiernan and Elizabeth Kiernan, Bill’s Grandnieces, and Will Goodwin, Bill’s Grandnephew. The Communion Song was “Taste and See”. The Commendation meditation tune was “I Have Loved You”. The Recessional Hymn was from the 1994 film The Lion King “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” composed by Elton John.

At the outset of the service “Bill” was eulogized by his Wife of 43 years, Carol Vahey. She spoke of Bill’s pleasant nature which never failed and the good humor he maintained during his long confrontation with life threatening kidney disease beginning in 1987 later requiring a kidney transplant. Carol recounted Bill’s boundless and irrepressible generosity relating stories from their adventuresome worldwide travels together during her work years posted in London and Hong Kong and Bill’s retirement with Bill soon learning how to say “keep the change” in Mandarin Chinese. Carol confirmed Bill’s limitless love for his family and his friends relating that in this regard “Nothing was left unsaid.” 

The printed program for the order of service bore a likeness of “Bill” with the inscription “Drink the Good Wine First”. After the church service attendees were invited to join the family “to toast Bill” at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel at Logan Airport, East Boston. The hotel parking lot also quickly filled to capacity. Inside in the Hyatt’s 2nd floor large reception area it was again “standing room only”.