Stanley: Lockport native, former cop remembered for his respect
By Brian Stanley Life of Brianfirstname.lastname@example.org August 17, 2013 7:42PM
Lockport Police Sgt. Jack McCarthy sits in a squad car before going on patrol ca. 1966 with (from left), his wife Barb, daughters Pam, Jackie and Sarah standing outside. McCarthy died Monday at 81. | Supplied photo
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:07AM
Many who attended Jack McCarthy’s wake grew up with the Lockport native. Others told his family they remembered the bricklayer from when he’d built their house.
But his daughters noticed a third category also was well-represented among those coming through the line to pay their respects.
“They’d say ‘He arrested me ...’ and tell us about what happened. It was very funny,” Pam Frontera said.
In addition to co-owning B&B Masonry for 50 years, McCarthy served 21 years as a Lockport police officer. After retiring as a sergeant, he was the Lockport Township Park District police chief from 1983 to 1992.
A year in the Navy was the only substantial time McCarthy spent away from Lockport, so he usually knew who he was arresting. And instead of a rap sheet or a traffic ticket in those days, “Uncle Jack” would just follow young suspects home to talk with their parents.
“I think for some of them it would’ve been easier if they’d gone to jail,” Sarah Mormann said.
But Mormann, Frontera and Jackie McCarthy’s girlfriends could get off with a warning from “the giant marshmallow” with just a few tears, and Jack handled far more tickets at Sportsman’s Park and off-track betting parlors than he did on patrol.
“I had a judge admit to me later that anyone who came into his courtroom with a ticket from Jack was automatically guilty, because they really must have done something bad for him to write one,” his brother-in-law Dick Cronholm said.
McCarthy’s daughters graciously agreed their father treated his nephews like the sons he never had and they aren’t surprised many of their cousins followed him into bricklaying or law enforcement.
Jack’s own father, James “Buzzer” McCarthy, had been a state trooper, but he did look into other jobs before settling on two full-time careers.
While trying to become a professional photographer, McCarthy offered to take pictures of his best friend’s wedding as a gift. But when Jack passed a car accident on the way to the ceremony, his excitement got the better of him.
“He started shooting the wedding and didn’t realize he’d run out of film. He just kept snapping away,” Mormann said as she and her sisters shared some of the happiest sobs I’ve ever heard following a funeral. They also noted the married couple remained Jack’s lifelong friends.
Jack’s own marriage also began dramatically when the Irish Catholic McCarthy decided to wed a Protestant. While their mothers both were mortified, Jack believed the 58 years the couple spent together until Barbara’s death in 2010 proved them wrong.
“Uncle Jack felt you had to treat everyone with respect,” said Pete Piazza, deputy director of the secretary of state’s police. “Even when you knew you were dealing with a dirtbag, you treated them like a human being and it worked out. That’s what he taught me as a cop and as a man.”