Walter V. Maloney, Jr., who served as Wakefield Fire Chief for 22 years, and a firefighter for 44 years, died on Friday, August 5 as a result of pancreatic cancer. He was 83.
Born in Melrose on August 9, 1927, Chief Maloney was the son of the late Walter V. and Helen (Tabot) Maloney. He went on to graduate from Wakefield High School in 1945, and attended North Shore Community College.
Chief Maloney served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Tarawa, an aircraft carrier, during World War II.
Legacy at the Wakefield Fire Department
Chief Maloney served as a firefighter in Wakefield for 44 years, with 22 of those years, 1970-1992, as Chief of the Wakefield Fire Department.
"Serving as chief for 22 and in this day and age pretty unheard of with all the stresses and everything else going on," said retired Chief David Parr, who worked closely with Chief Maloney and eventually succeeded him in the top post. "He was very calm, very collected, very humble - a quiet and capable leader."
And none of those years were dull. When Chief Maloney began his post as chief in 1970, Wakefield experienced an unprecented period of multiple-alarm fires - as many as 20 in a year and a half. A huge fire struck the former high school, and an arsonist on the loose in town dramatically alterned the landscape of much of Main Street, said Chief Parr.
"As soon as he became chief, he was thrust into dealing with all these major fires, but that was just the headline type stuff," said Chief Parr. "But the other thing that a lot of people don't realize is he really modernized the Wakefeld Fire Department."
Chief Maloney brought in new equipment, established new procedures, was the first chief to put a third firefighter at the Greenwood Station around the clock, and passed legistation in Wakefied that required smoke detectors and sprinklers to be installed in new or renovated buildings.
"That was tremendmous," said Chief Parr. "We had at least two fires that would have been much more serious and probably fatal had it not been for the systems Chief Maloney legislated to have installed."
Life in Wakefield
Chief Maloney raised a large family in Wakefield - five girls and one boy, with his longtime wife of 55 years, Marguerite E. (Donovan) Maloney. A family man, his friends said he was very involved in his children's - and then grandchildren's, and then great-grandchildren's - lives.
He was also a huge Boston sports fan who followed all four major sports closely, but especially the Bruins and Red Sox.
"He was thrilled to see the Bruins win the Stanely Cup this year," said Chief Parr.
Mr. Maloney is surived by his wife, Marguerite E. (Donovan) Maloney, his brother, Roger Maloney and his wife Maureen, his nephew Michael Maloney and his wife Anne and his niece Anne Lucey and her husband Paul all of Wakefield; his children, Susan Maloney Dennett of Georgetown, Maureen Maloney Jenks and her fiancée Mark Abrams of Haverhill, NH, Walter V Maloney III and his wife Tracey of Wakefield, MaryAnn Maloney Brennan of Wakefield, Michelle Maloney Pruskin and her husband Marc of Marlborough and Marguerite Donovan Maloney of Wakefield; his grandchildren, Maura Jenks of Enfield, NH, Sarah Dennett Paniagua of Lawrence, Specialist Ryan M. Jenks of Fort Drum, NY, Katelyn M. Dennett of Byfield, Jillian M. Maloney, Kelsey M. Maloney, Abigal D. Maloney, Jade M. Brennan and Morgan E. Brennan all of Wakefield and Garrett M. and Avery R. Pruskin of Marlborough; and his great grandchildren, Hayden Jenks of Enfield, NH and Christian, Julian and Cameron Paniagua of Lawrence. He is also survived by his brother, Roger Maloney and his wife Maureen, his nephew Michael Maloney and his wife Anne and his niece Anne Lucey and her husband Paul all of Wakefield.
His funeral was held at McDonald Funeral Home on August 9 and a funeral mass was said at St. Joseph Church. He was buried at Forest Glade Cemetery in Wakefield.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the The Salvation Army, Attn: Development, 25 Shawmut Rd., Canton, MA 02021 or American Red Cross, PO Box 4002018, Des Moines, IA 50340-2018.