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James Queenan


1932 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
James Queenan Obituary
Hon. James F. Queenan

WORCESTER - Retired federal bankruptcy judge James F. Queenan, age 85, of Worcester, died unexpectedly on July 9th, 2018 from complications during his rehabilitation in Plymouth, MA following knee surgery. His first love was his family, his next love was the law. Judge Queenan believed that as a bankruptcy judge he worked in two intersecting worlds - the legal one of complex corporate maneuvers and the every-day world of human struggle. He loved spending time primarily in three places: Worcester because of its civic activity, strong communities and ethnic diversity; Sarasota because of its fine art and sunsets into the sea; and Sagamore Beach because that's where he spent summers since he was a boy hauling lobsters out of Cape Cod Bay. He loved history, gardening, tennis and foreign travel.

Born in Boston on October 11, 1932, Jim moved at age nine with his family to Waban, a village of Newton, and went through the Newton schools and graduated from Newton High School. He enrolled at Boston College, where at a college dance he met his future wife, the lovely Helen E. Wood, then a young student at nearby Mount St. Joseph Academy. Jim graduated in 1953 with a major in accounting and a minor in philosophy, a strange combination by his own admission. Fighting in the Korean War having ended, but with the war's draft still in effect, he joined the army, stationed at Fort Totten on Long Island, later joking he protected NYC against communist invasion by way of Long Island Sound.

After army service came marriage to Helen and study at Boston College Law School during a time when, to Jim's delight, they lived near Fenway Park. His record at law school qualified him for an internship with the office of Middlesex County District Attorney and a one-year appointment as law clerk to Judge Edward J. Counihan Jr. of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The court's most famous case that year (1958) was an appeal by defendants in the Brinks robbery case. Jim and the other law clerks, but not the judges, thought the defendants should win because of prejudicial news conferences conducted by the prosecutor.

Judge Queenan loved the law. He practiced law for many years as a partner with Bowditch & Dewey, in estate planning, trials, corporate law and bankruptcy. He was appointed to the bench in 1986. A man of letters, he wrote incisive court decisions and many law review articles; he was the co-author and co-editor of a multi-volume treatise on chapter 11 reorganization; and he served as an editor of the Massachusetts Law Quarterly. His memoir, Looking Back, told stories of the law and his family. He taught law at Suffolk Law School, Western New England Law School and College of the Holy Cross.

Judge Queenan also loved politics and was actively involved in his local and business community. He was an advance man for Robert Kennedy in the 1968 Oregon Democratic primary contest between Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy. He served as chairman of a task force that successfully brought Route 146 into Worcester from the Mass Pike. He conducted demonstrations, in Worcester and Sarasota, protesting against the war in Iraq. He was a director of the Massachusetts Bar Association and a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Mass Judicial Conduct Commission (called the "Bad Judge" Commission by his wife Helen) and a committee appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court which recommended, unsuccessfully to his regret, that Mass. lawyers be certified as having special competence in one or more fields.

Jim leaves his beloved wife of 61 years, Helen E. (Wood) Queenan, their two daughters, Anne M. Queenan and Mary Beth Papcsy, both of Worcester, and their three sons, Dr. James F. Queenan III, and his wife Melody, of Lee's Summit, MO, Stephen P. Queenan, and his wife Beverly, of York, PA, and Arthur W. Queenan, and his wife Ruzanna, of Essex, Massachusetts, and eight grandchildren who were the delight of his later years: Ellen A. Papcsy, plus seven named Queenan - James IV, Pierce, Garrett, Kathleen, Connor, Lily and Abigail. He was predeceased by his parents, James F. Queenan Sr. and Helene A. (Donovan) Queenan, his sister, Mary-Louise Borges, and his brother, Thomas K. Queenan.

A wake will be held at the Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster Street, Worcester, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 16th. The funeral Mass will be at Immaculate Conception Church, 353 Grove Street, Worcester, on Tuesday, July 17th at 10 a.m. The burial is at Saint John's Cemetery. A reception at the Worcester Country Club, 2 Rice Street, Worcester, will follow.

In lieu of flowers, consider a gift to the Hon. James F. Queenan Legal Services Fund at Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from July 11 to July 15, 2018
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