By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Former four-time Mayor Robert Haas Jr. was laid to rest Tuesday in Woodlawn Cemetery following a Mass at St. Anthony’s.
A motorcade of motorcycle police officers from different communities escorted Haas’ casket from Vertuccio & Smith Funeral home on Broadway to St. Anthony’s. An emblem of the U.S. Army on each door of the hearse, signifying his service during the Vietnam Era.
Haas, also the City Council President, died July 2 unexpectedly while on vacation with his family on Block Island.
Haas’ was waked from Vertuccio & Smith Funeral home on Broadway Monday night from 3-8 p.m. Hundreds of people stood in line for hours to pay their respects to the family.
The former Mayor of Revere and City Council President was dressed in a navy blue suit, crisp white shirt and red tie. Above him, embroidered on the lining was the official crest of the City he loved so much.
Rev. George Butera of St. Anthony’s said the mass along with Deacon Joe Belmont and altar boy Hunter Jones. Haas had been a member of the Holy Name Society at the church.
“I wish I could take the pain away,” Butera told the Haas family. “The best thing we can do is pray.”
Mayor Brian Arrigo gave the eulogy during the service. As he choked back emotion he shared how Haas was a mentor to him. He recalled Haas’ easy smile and even temperament.
“The city lost one of its pillars on July 2, 2017.”
Arrigo noted Haas’s reputation as a family man.
“Juanita (Haas’ wife) the city’s heart aches for ourselves and for you,” Arrigo said. “Bob chose public life and his family was behind him. He thrived because of his family.”
Arrigo said Haas had been a fixture in City Hall for 40 years. He noted that in 1979 Haas used blue and white campaign signs, later switching to the iconic the red and yellow most voters are familiar with today. Arrigo added how Haas and the Council could often be found at Companions restaurant on Broadway after a meeting.
“How many of you still have the yellow and red ’Stick with Bob’ magnet? Bob was always looking to lift people up,” Arrigo said. “He is a true Revere legend.”
In summing up his eulogy, Arrigo gave Haas a tip of the cap.
“Bob, your term has come to an end and you’ve done a good job,” Arrigo said. “Now you can rest in peace.”
Mourners included Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, former president of the Massachusetts Senate Robert Travaglini, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino, State Senator Joe Boncore, and State Representative Roselee Vincent the Revere City Council, many city employees, friends and family.
DeLeo recalled his first meeting Haas at a Jaycees softball game.
“I knew Bob before politics. He was a good athlete,” DeLeo said. “His emphasis was always on the local community and he made sure the people of Revere were taken care of.”
Ward 3 City Councillor Arthur Guinasso was a longtime friend of Haas and wore the Haas campaign button on his lapel.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said he used to meet Haas every morning at the Bagel Bin on Shirley Ave.
“I picture him walking in the door,” Novoselsky said. “We had good times there socializing and talking politics. He was refreshing to see in the morning.”
State Sen Joseph Boncore said Haas was an incredible public servant.
“Today we celebrated his legacy,” Boncore said.
State Rep. Roselee Vincent shared much of her life with Haas in it. They went to high school together, with Haas graduating in 1963 from Revere High School. Vincent and Haas lived near each other growing up and recently the St. George condominiums on the beach. The beach was often the place to see the Haas family.
“We lived a door apart,” Vincent said. “My heart is broken. Sixty years of friendship. He was the epitome of a family man. He will be sadly missed.”
City Clerk Ashley Melnik, who worked closely with Haas said she remembers him always coming into the office and saying ‘keep on smiling.”
“My first year I was fortunate to sit next to him,” said Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe, who is expected to become the next council president. “He shared a wealth of knowledge. He was a mentor and a true friend on and off the council. Bob was like a father figure to me.”
As mourners left the funeral service the deep bells of St. Anthony’’s Church rang out.
As Haas’s hearse and funeral party rode down Broadway people stood on the sidewalk to pay their respects. Firefighters from the Central Fire Station pulled their trucks out, donned their turnout gear and saluted Haas under a giant American flag hanging from Ladder One.
Haas served as mayor from 1992 to 2000 and a City Councillor from 1980-1992 and again in 2003 to 2017 for a total of 26 years. He was born in Melrose and grew up in Revere, graduating from Revere High School class of 1963. He joined the Army and when he got out he worked at the National Shawmut Bank of Boston while going to school at night. Haas earned his finance degree from Northeastern University. He was also the owner of Haas Business Forms.
While Haas was a city councillor he played an instrumental role in bringing several commercial developments to the city including the Hampton and Comfort Inn.
Robert Haas Jr. is survived by his wife Juanita (Brandariz), his daughters Jennifer and her fiance, John Coyne, Rachel and son Bobby and his wife Jennifer, and grandchildren Brayden, Luca and Noah.