1928 - 2019
DINEEN, John K. Boston Attorney A Boston attorney who helped shape the city's skyline over a 65-year legal career, John K. Dineen died on February 4th, surrounded by family at home in Nahant. He was 91. Dineen was born at home on January 21, 1928, in Gardiner, Maine, the son of James J. and Eleanor (Kelley) Dineen. He graduated from Gardiner High School in 1945, and joined the U.S. Army in 1946, after a brief stint as a pre-dental student at the University of Maine, which both he and the academic dean agreed was not a great fit. He shipped out to Japan and spent two years in the Yokohama Signal Maintenance Depot. After an honorable discharge he returned to University of Maine, this time for a Bachelor of Arts degree, taking pre-law courses and joining student government. At The University of Maine, he also met that year's carnival queen, Carolyn Foley, his future wife. He graduated from The University of Maine in 1951, and Boston University Law School in 1954. As an attorney, he was partner with four Boston firms: Weston, Patrick & Stevens, Peabody & Arnold, Gaston Snow & Ely Bartlett, and Nutter. In the mid-19690's, he was appointed a special assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by then Attorney General Ed Brooke. He was a trustee of the Boston Local Development Corporation for more than 30 years, starting in 1982. He spent the last 16 years of his career at Nutter – the firm threw him a retirement party last spring when he was 90 years old. In a day when the legal profession is highly specialized, he was a jack-of-all-trades. He was a key player in every aspect of developing two of downtown Boston's first office towers – the State Street Bank and Keystone buildings -- assembling the building sites, building political support, lining up financing, and even getting involved in the marketing and leasing efforts. For decades he oversaw a swath of what is now known as the Seaport District, representing the Boston Wharf Co., which owned a 50-building portfolio of mostly brick warehouses. But even more than his legal work he was known for his role as managing partner of Benners Hotel in Dingle Ireland, a small county inn in County Kerry, that he and a few Boston friends bought in 1973. Eventually they recruited dozens of Boston friends to buy shares in the venture – the only guarantee being that they would never get their money back. Like most of Dineen's business ventures Benners Hotel was a money-loser but a great deal of fun – the only prerequisite for being offered a share in the property was that the potential owner would be good company at the Benner's bar on a rainy day. John Dineen's name was frequently preceded by the adjective "dapper." He wore tweed three-piece suits, bowties, and smoked a pipe. When he skied at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire he wore leather knickers. He had a beautiful baritone singing voice and enjoyed playing harmonica and accordion. If you asked him how he was he would always say, "near perfect." If you told him you would see him later he would say, "I'll be the tall, good-looking one." He was not quite 5 foot 7. In the 1950's, he lived in a warehouse on T Wharf in Boston, one of only a handful of residents who resided on what was then an industrial waterfront. He collected friends the same way he collected canes, pocket watches, Irish caps, pipes, paintings, and pictures of his hero, Abraham Lincoln. He expanded his real estate footprint as a means of accommodating the memorabilia he collected as well as the paintings he was constantly bringing back from Ireland. When he built a garage, he filled its walls with art. When no more empty wall space remained in the garage, he had a shed built so he could fill that up. He was happiest when surrounded by family – the more, the better. In the 1980's he had the vision to convert an old cow barn, horse stables, and granary on Kezar Lake in Maine into a retreat that could be enjoyed by the extended family. Today that property has become the Dineen gathering spot and other family members have purchased or constructed homes nearby. He was a man who could not say no to a seat on a board. Some of the institutions for which he served as a board member or trustee include, Winsor School, Waring School, Hebron Academy, Emmanuel College, Boston Aid To The Blind, Boston University Medical Center, U.S.S. Constitution Museum, the Amelia Peabody Foundation, Catholic Charities of Lynn, and the Nahant Public Library. In particular he was committed to his work as a trustee of Cambridge College, a board he sat on for 30 years. He loved the mission of the school – the idea that it was never too late for an education or new career, that working moms, immigrants or anyone who didn't have the chance to go to college when they were younger, could become a teacher, therapist or entrepreneur. In 2001, Cambridge College gave him an honorary degree, a highlight of his life, not in the least because it allowed him to spend a few days with soul singer Patti LaBelle, who also received an honorary degree that year. He and Patti became pals and suddenly CD's by the woman who sang "Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi" started to show up amid the King's Singers and James Last In the Mood For Trumpets. If his penchant for boards of trustees was strong, even stronger was his tendency to join clubs. He was a member of the Marshall Street History Society, the Tavern Club, the Union Club, the Cary Street Club, the Apollo Club, and the Norway Weary Club, among others. For more than 65 years he sang with the Apollo Club of Boston every Tuesday night, a men's choir he said was cheaper than therapy. Since 1960, Dineen lived in Nahant, where he was an active community member, serving as an elected library trustee, and playing a central role in preserving the old Valley Road School, and the Nahant Life Saving Station. He seemingly knew everyone in town and would frequently dine at the bar down at Kelley Greens, the pub at the town-owned Golf Course. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Carolyn Foley Reardon (deceased 1982) and Susan Lowell Dineen, who passed as away in 2011. He is survived by his five children: Jane Ellen Reardon Dineen of Lovell, ME, Martha Dineen Wales and her husband Ralph Wales of Providence; Louisa Dineen Attenborough and her husband Neale Attenborough of Boston; Jessica Dineen and her husband Terence Culver of Brooklyn, N.Y, and J.K. Dineen and his wife Megan Fletcher of San Francisco. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, his sister Jane Ryan of Action, and brothers Dr. James Dineen of Boston and Dr. David Dineen of Gardiner, ME. A Memorial Service will be held on April 6th, at 11 a.m., at the Nahant Village Church, followed by a reception at the Nahant Country Club.

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Published by Boston Globe from Mar. 2 to Mar. 3, 2019.
Memorial service
Nahant Village Church,
, MA
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7 Entries
My wife and I were able to spend a week with John Dineen in Ireland, along with some of his life-long friends. What a treat! In that one week, we felt as though we learned a lifetime of stories, perspectives and insights from John, stories and experiences that we continue to share with friends five years later. I recall one of the first comments I heard him utter was on the flight to Ireland. He asserted that if the box they were to bury him in was no larger than the seating space allowed on the airplane, he would simply refuse to die. It was clear from that moment that John was someone who refused to die every day of his life. As someone commented, John was right: he was well nigh perfect.
Kevin & Phyllis Connelly
January 14, 2020
Diana Coleman
June 9, 2019
Have known John since 1975 when I joined Apollo, living roughly twelve blocks from John's Beacon St condo, have had occasion to chauffeur him to rehearsals and gigs in recent years; lots of reflections, insights, special moments, just too many to share here, but one going way back, when I was Apollo's president and inclined to be a bit too rambunctious, John reminded me "Remember Huhta, I'm the chairman of the nominating committee...!" He loved the music and all of our leaders, Flossie especially; and, I'm inclined to believe, the same for our primary servers on rehearsal evenings at Charles St's Paramount restaurant, Flavia and Paula. Chip Huhta
Chip Huhta
March 22, 2019
John was a true renaissance man. There was very little in life that did not interest him, or which he did not master. One of his greatest talents was in making and keeping good friends. Often he would invite them to join him in his interests - the Apollo Club, the Benners Hotel project, the Board of Lynn Catholic Charities, and many many other worthy projects. As an attorney, John was able to do just about anything, and enjoyed taking on the most interesting projects.

Come to think of it, John was right: he was well nigh perfect.
Dave Conlin
March 4, 2019
Very grateful for all the support John Dineen provided the Nahant Public Library over the years, both as a trustee and through the Apollo Club. He was a man of wit and class. Our condolences to his friends and family from the board, staff, Friends, and the director of the Library.
Sharon Hawkes
March 3, 2019
Mike DeBolt
March 3, 2019
My heartfelt condolences to the family and many friends of Mr. Dineen. Although I did not know Mr. Dineen, I was very moved by this beautiful tribute to an incredible man. His life was filled with so many roads taken, journeys embraced, and friendships formed, that I was immediately drawn into the colorful images of old Boston (my hometown) and an Ireland I have not yet visited. A life well lived. How wonderful was his embrace of family.
Deborah Boyajian
March 3, 2019
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