For some 70 years, members of the Hynes family gave Dorchester cachet in the worlds of politics and the media.
In 1947, then Boston City Clerk John B. Hynes, a Dorchester resident, became acting mayor when the legendary James Michael Curley was moved from his mayor’s seat in City Hall to a cell in federal prison after being convicted of mail fraud while in office. Hynes later defeated Curley for the mayor’s seat three times, in 1949, 1951, and 1955, a decade when the so-called New Boston was born and nurtured in its infancy.
As his father wound down his last term, his son, John B. “Jack” Hynes Jr., hoisted the family’s flag in the world of broadcast journalism, beginning as a reporter for WBZ radio and television in 1957. For the next 50 years, his face was as familiar as any to the people of greater Boston and beyond as he anchored news programs at a number of stations until he retired after a long run at Channel 56 in Boston in 2006.
Funeral services were held on Monday in Chatham on Cape Cod for Mr. Hynes, who died of heart failure on Feb. 12 at the age of 88.
He was a local boy through and through. Born and raised in Dorchester, he grew up in a home at 31 Druid Street in the Codman Hill/Lower Mills neighborhood, was an altar boy at St. Gregory’s church, and attended the parish grammar school and Boston College High School. He took some time away from his home village to earn a degree in journalism from Notre Dame University in 1952, and to serve a three-year stint in the Marines before returning to the city in 1957.
In a 2010 ceremony sponsored by the Boston Irish Reporter, the Hynes family was honored as an “exemplary Boston Irish Family.” In an lengthy interview with BIR contributor Jack Thomas, Jack roamed over the landscape of his memory to fill pages and pages with anecdotes of times long gone by, offering up an oral history of Boston journalism that featured, as Thomas wrote, “cops, firemen, gangsters, reprobates, scalawags, and neer-do-wells.”
As the decades rolled by, he noted, “The people around me got younger and younger, and I could relate less and less to them. The clincher came at Channel 56. We had a producer, a college graduate who had worked in TV for three years. One night I alerted her that the next day was Dec. 7, and that we should have the morning guy line up an interview with somebody who’d been at Pearl Harbor. Honest to God, she said, ‘Pearl Harbor? When was that?’ I said, ‘Right after the Battle of Gettysburg.’ She said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I said, ‘You’ve got it confused with Pearl Jam, which is a rock group.’ I knew then it was time for me to go, and after that, I just did weekends and commentaries.”
And so he moved on, a living symbol of an earlier time when television news was given to viewers with the assumption that the vast majority of them knew the history of their city, their state, their nation, and their world.
Mr. Hynes was predeceased in 1998 by his wife Marie (Kelly) Hynes. He leaves his sons John III of South Boston and Barry of Beverly; two daughters, Kelly Hynes McDermott of Medfield and Shauna Hynes-Baler of Yarmouth Port; a sister, Marie Hynes Gallagher of Falmouth; and a brother, Barry of South Boston. A second brother, Richard, of Brookline, was found dead of a heart attack last weekend. He also leaves ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.