By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – As a committee plans activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joseph L. Mulready Elementary School in Hudson, a subcommittee is fundraising for a memorial bench to perpetually honor William “Bill” T. Maguire, its first principal with a 40-year commitment to the district. He passed away at age 67 in 2007.
When Cox Street School opened in 1965, its teachers and students were immediately impressed by Maguire, who previously worked three years in the district. That admiration continued as the school was renamed after former Superintendent Mulready in 1995, through to Maguire’s 2002 retirement and beyond.
Maguire was principal there when committee member Mary Ann Fitzgerald began her 35 years as a first-grade teacher in 1971. She soon learned a valuable lesson in disciplining that particular school’s students.
“Telling kids that you’re sending them to the principal’s office if they don’t behave was not a threat at all because they loved going to Bill,” she said. “In his own way, Bill got them to behave because he was so nice to them that they didn’t want to offend him. Everybody loved going to the principal.”
Fitzgerald appreciates Maguire’s longtime dedication to the district. Likewise, she’s grateful for his administering style that built the school’s foundation.
“It’s unusual for an administrator to be so loyal to one town,” she noted. “He was a very laidback principal and it was really easy to work for him. Bill wanted excellence in his school, yet he didn’t demand it from the staff; he got it through respect.”
The Mulready/Cox Street School 50th Birthday Committee began meetings the end of the 2014-2015 school year. A memorial bench was proposed at a meeting by George Calnan, who worked in the district throughout a 48-year period in several capacities including teacher, principal and School Committee member. He started teaching in the district when Cox Street School opened and partnered with Maguire in after-school programs.
“Bill initiated intramural basketball after school, which he and I both refereed,” Calnan recalled. “His love for basketball was immeasurable.”
Calnan believes that Maguire left a memorable mark on the school and town. A bench would symbolize the community’s appreciation for him.
“It would be nice if a permanent tribute to this wonderful man could become a reality,” he said. “Bill did so much throughout his career for the kids and the community of Hudson. He was beloved by all.”
The committee hopes to purchase a customized memorial bench reflecting Maguire’s bond with students. They envision figures sitting on the bench of a girl reading a book and a boy holding a basketball. Estimated cost is $5,000.
Committee member Betty McMahon observed firsthand Maguire’s close interaction with students. Her three children attended the school from 1986 to 2001 and she worked there as a paraeducator for five years.
“Being so tall, you’d think that he could intimidate kids, but a child would just look up to him and he’d have a smile on his face,” she said. “He always took the time to listen to children or to read them a story. I could picture him sitting on a bench and talking with kids around him. He was there for the kids.”
In addition to Calnan, Fitzgerald and McMahon, the bench committee includes Paula Davis, Eileen Ehntholt, Tanya Evans and Kristina Rodgers. Joining them on the 50th birthday committee are Marjorie Afergan, Sue Bowen, Ellen Busch, Liliana Chaves, Rosemary Corley, Barbara Cunningham, Sandra Priestman, Brian Walsh, Carrie Walsh and Principal Kelly Whitmore.
Donations for the memorial bench can be made online via PayPal at mulreadyhsa.weebly.com. Checks made payable to “Mulready School Parents Association” can be mailed to Mulready School, 306 Cox St. Hudson, MA 01749. Reference “Memorial Bench” as memo.