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Thursday, August 3, 2023
5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)
Friday, August 4, 2023
Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)
James Harper, age 89, passed away on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo, Ireland on December 10, 1933, he spent his childhood in Ireland before moving to England at the age of seventeen. While living in England, James got his start in the construction field, working with demolition crews, cleaning up after World War II, and went on to dig trenches for modernization. Two years later, James traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, making his home in Toronto, Canada, building a life for himself and finding work where he could. He spent time in Canada working in the coal mines, a local parks department, and even as a zookeeper.
While living in Toronto, James met his wife-to-be, Mary M. Myers. They were married on June 22, 1957, and made their home together in Toronto, where they welcomed their first three children, Patrick, Frank, and David. A few years later, in 1962, James and Mary moved their family to the United States, making their home in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, where they welcomed four children, Mary, Bernadette, James, and Sean. With his jack of all trades background, James quickly found work with other Irish Immigrants, including many friends, building the Prudential Center in downtown Boston. He went on to learn the roofing trade working with Tom Flatley, before going out on his own to form James Harper and Sons Roofing, Inc. While he worked hard, James never lost sight of his family values and ensured he and Mary brought their children to visit their relatives in Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he built himself a small log cabin to enjoy a family vacation together.
The Harper family continued to make their home in the City of Boston during the 1970s, settling into the Mattapan neighborhood. In 1974, James packed his family up and headed home to Ireland, where he would realize his dream of owning and operating a farm in Tralee, Co. Kerry. He loved the idea of a family farm, working side by side with his seven children, making light work of the daily chores. As his children grew up, they yearned to return to the United States, so as a good family man, James packed his family once more to cross the Atlantic Ocean, returning to Jamaica Plain in 1979. A year later, James moved out of the city to the quiet suburban town of Walpole, Massachusetts, where he was able to cultivate his vegetable garden to grow tomatoes, potatoes, peas, carrots, beets, and rhubarb, bringing the idea of a farm to his new home. He went on to rebrand his company as Shamrock Roofing, Inc., working hard to ensure his customers were well cared for at a fair price. James continued to operate his company until 2010, when he sold it to his son, Patrick. Not one to sit idle, James continued working alongside his son for many years, even after moving to Carver, where he was able to maintain a gentleman's farm on his acreage, complete with his famous vegetable garden. While he loved working the land, James also enjoyed spending time by the water, casting his line to see if he could land a salmon or two.
Throughout his life, James remained true to his Irish heritage, and was a devoted member of the Irish Social Club in West Roxbury. As a member of the board of directors at the club, James looked forward to planning many events over the years, most notably the annual Saint Patrick's Day party. Most weekends were spent at the club with his wife, Mary, dancing the night away to some of their favorite Irish songs. James formed tight knit friendships with members of the club over the years, often gathering at each other’s homes to play his favorite card game, Twenty-Five.
More than anything, James was a devoted family man, who treasured the moments he spent with those he loved. As a young father, he loved taking his children to area lakes, including Lake Pearl in Wrentham, Houghton's Pond at Blue HIlls, and Chabacco Lake in Hamilton, for a day of swimming and fun. Back at home, he looked forward to family bar-b-ques, where he set up his horseshoe pits to take on any challenger, winning every time.
Beloved husband of the late Mary M. (Myers) Harper.
Loving father of Frank M. Harper and his wife, Charlene, of Carver, David G. Harper of Mansfield, Mary E. Mulready and her husband, Richard, of Carver, Bernadette A. Garden and her husband, Richard, of Carver, James T. Harper and his wife, Mary, of Eagle, Colorado, Sean M. Harper and his fiancé, Terri Majchrowicz, of Berthoud, Colorado, and the late Patrick J. Harper, and his surviving wife, Connie, of Attleboro.
Cherished grandfather of Mary, Andrea, Patrick, Jr., John, James, Connie, Ashley, Joshua, Brianna, Christopher, Monica, Frank, Jr., Cheyenne, Marissa, Brittany, Taylor, Siobhan, Angela, Pierce, Conor, Ava, and Haley; great grandfather of twenty-four; and great great grandfather of four.
Relatives and friends are kindly invited to attend James' Life Celebration on Thursday, August 3, 2023, from 5 to 8 PM in the James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, 48 Common Street, Walpole.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Blessed Sacrament Church, 10 Diamond Street, Walpole, on Friday, August 4, 2023, at 10:30 AM. Interment will follow in Saint Francis Cemetery in Walpole.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in James' name may be made to Dana Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284, www.dana-farber.org/gift