Saturday, July 30, 2011

In memoriam: Rita McCafferty McQueeney

In these days of unfortunate denigration of people who choose a career in state government, it is important to recognize those who devote their lives to public service -- not in a flashy or ostentatious way -- but in just doing their job thoughtfully and well every day of the week.  Rita (McCafferty) McQueeney was one such person, and she passed away peacefully and quietly this week.

Rita was a secretary in the state's Department of Public Utilities, working for a succession of Commissioners in that regulatory agency.  She lived in Mansfield, south of Boston, and would take the train to work every day.  I don't ever recall her missing a day of work.  Even during the worst snow storms, she would show up bundled up with boots on.  But beyond that, her attitude and approach to work and life was always positive.  She had a marvelous sense of humor and excellent judgment about people, which never got in the way of her being inevitably polite, respectful, and helpful to all.

I was fortunate to work with her during my two terms in the agency, from 1977-78, and then again from 1983-1987.  During the second term, my young daughters would often come to visit the office, and they adored Rita.  I have wonderful memories of their laughing together about some secret that they were keeping from their father and boss!

Rita and I stayed in touch after I left the DPU, but irregularly.  She always knew about my latest job and would have astute observations about the political environment within which I was working.  But she mainly wanted to know how "her girls" were doing and would have the pride of an honorary aunt when I would tell her of their accomplishments.

She will be missed by all who knew her.


Bob said...

Rita was indeed a very sweet, kind and knowledgeable person and I was so fortunate to have her as my assistant for my years at the Commission until her retirement. She will indeed be missed by those who had the good fortune to know her.

Sonia said...

From Facebook:

She was a lovely woman; so sad!

Sue said...

What a gem she was, and we were all privileged to have worked with her and known her.

She lived life with such enthusiasm, optimism, pragmatism, genuineness, spunk. There aren’t very many of her special kind out there.

Robert said...

Rita McQueeney, as a career DPU employee, represented the heart and soul of the Department. She was an institution that took much pride in the work of the agency and her role in its development.

Rita witnessed a lot as Commissioners and staff transitioned into and out of the Department, and she was always there with kindness and wisdom, providing the grounded perspective that each of us were simply temporary custodians of an important institution that has a long history and solid tradition.

Rita was a more critical component of that tradition than any of the temporary custodians passing through the Department’s doors. While we all mourn her passing, we celebrate the role she played, the grounded perspective she provided, the wisdom of her guidance and the constant smile she presented. She is deeply missed.

Anonymous said...

Andrea Nixon writes

I loved Rita as well…she was always so good to me. Especially when my mom passed. She would always just walk up and hug me then walk away, it always gave me the boost I needed. She was like my segregate mom. She gave me so much of her knowledge and wisdom, and really shaped who I am today - I was only 20 when she graced my life. I will forever be grateful to her.