MAHER, Deacon Kenneth J., age 70, native of The Bronx & a longtime, proud resident of his beloved Hamlet of Saint James, passed peacefully from the arms of his loving Family to Heaven on Christmas morning, December 25, 2020. A tireless, dedicated community member of the St. James Hamlet & the Town of Smithtown, Maher, along with his wife, purchased the Saint James Funeral Home on December 31, 1977, beginning 43 years, 11 months & 3 weeks of a selfless journey of service benefitting his Community on many levels.Maher’s education included his elementary & high schools, under the instruction of the Sisters of Charity & the Christian Brothers at St. Raymond, Bronx. NY. In addition to his studies, Maher served as an Altar Boy, a member of the Interscholastic Chess Club, Varsity Basketball & Varsity Baseball Teams. Upon his St. Raymond Graduation in 1968, his talent as a baseball pitcher won him numerous awards that, in turn, secured him college tuition scholarships to Iona College, New Rochelle. While a fulltime, commuting student at Iona, Maher proudly contributed his talent to Iona on the baseball diamond &, with his teammates, brought Iona to League champions status, pitching a perfect game & a no-hitter earning him a place in the Iona Sports Hall of Fame. This notoriety, in turn, earned him numerous professional MLB scouts attending both his Home & Away games. Prior to his 1972 Iona graduation which conferred on him a BA in History, an ABA in Theology & Secondary Education, Ken was drafted by the New York Yankee organization, signing him to the Mount Vernon Generals. At that time, a parttime job also started to interest his plans for his future: Ken worked as door personnel at a local funeral home. After realizing that the funeral profession was beckoning to his heart, Ken, despite the chagrin of many, left the Yankees & was accepted at the prestigious American Academy-McAllister Institute Mortuary School in Manhattan. Upon graduation with a Professional Diploma in Mortuary Arts & Science, Ken passed the New York State Mortuary Boards & served his Funeral Residency at the Garlick Funeral Homes of New York. After completing his Residency, Ken continued to work for the Garlick Family. A Managerial position was offered to him at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home of Garden City. In 1976, 4 years after his marriage to his high school SweetHeart, Betty, they welcomed their first child, a Daughter-Aelysche Marie Maher-to their hearts & their lives. Shortly after, a funeral home in Suffolk County became available. On December 31, 1977 Ken & his wife bought & became the owners of Saint James Funeral bringing Ken’s unique loving style to this incredible, remarkable hamlet, beginning his legacy of 43 years, 11 months & 3 weeks. A legacy that continues now through his two children who follow in his footsteps as NYS Licensed Funeral Directors at the St. James Funeral Home. Ken immediately joined the St. James Chamber of Commerce in its infancy, ‘pounding the pavement’, meeting business owners, encouraging memberships & participation. During his membership, Ken rose through the various Chamber offices to become President. During his tenure, The Chamber’s Children’s Halloween Ragamuffin Parade was begun, The St. James’ St. Patrick’s Parade got its start. Town of Smithtown started to acknowledge the Chamber, having then Supervisor Patrick Vecchio looking to the Chamber for its opinions & assistance. Ken also became a casual employee for Catholic Health Service in order to assist Catholic Hospitals in patient transportation. Ken served on the Advisory Board of the St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center & the Saint James Lutheran Church Senior Day Care. Ken assisted Jim Dowling with the reorganization of the St. James Little League to include the Smithtown Little League while coaching Senior Level Baseball for players 16-19 years of age in a Suffolk County weekend league, bringing those players to 2 County Championships. In addition to growing the Funeral Home, Ken invested himself fully into his Family, his Hamlet & his Church. Ken wholeheartedly embraced his home Parish of Saints & James, volunteering when the need arose for Lectors &/or Eucharistic Ministers for weekend Masses, a Catechist in the REO Program, a Bingo worker, a Bazaar worker, a member of the SSPJ School Guild, an Advisory member of the SSPJ Youth Group Board, a member of the SSPJ Parish Council, he even helped install a playground in the back playground! During that same period, Ken was asked to begin an SSPJ Bereavement Counseling Group. When Parish interest arose for a Knights of Columbus Council to be formed, Ken was one of their Charter members. He went on to earn & become a 4th Degree Knight alongside his son, Ken, Jr. Despite what seems like a busy period, the then Pastor William Murphy approached & offered to sponsor Ken to start the process of Seminary Diaconal Study leading to Ordination as a Permanent Deacon in service to the Rockville Centre Diocese serving the people of his home Parish of Saints Philip & James. After being accepted, Ken began a three- and-a-half year course of study at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. After completing & successfully passing the three and a half years of study, Ken was ordained Saturday, May 7, 1988 at Saint Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre by Bishop John R. McGann. Ken, over the 32 years of his Diaconate service always felt a deep humility & honor in bringing the Sacraments to the Parishioners at weekend Masses, Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation and visiting the homebound. Due to his young age at his Ordination, Ken had the rare privilege to serve the SSPJ people under 7 different Pastors further distinguishing him as the Clergyman who has served SSPJ for the longest time; an enviable “title”.Living in an incorporated village, Ken was asked to serve on the Board of Zoning Appeals for Head of the Harbor in 2013. He felt a pride in this all-important role for his Village. Later, he was asked to serve as Chaplain for the Suffolk County Sheriff Department serving at many Sheriff Department Graduations & Ceremonies.Ken was still able to make & find time for his first love-his Family! He is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Betty. He is the loving Father of his Daughter, Kerry Weisse, his Son, Rich, his Son, Ken, Jr. He is the amazing, cherished PaPa of Avery, Ryder, Kennedy, Grayson, Peyton, Fallyn & Myles. He is also survived by his Brother, James Wm. Maher, PhD of Texas. He was pre-deceased by his Daughter, Aelysche, his Parents, Florence (nee Ayers) & James, his Parents, Florence (nee Hammond) & Al Levin & his Brothers Deacon Edward C. Maher, Bro. Franciscus Rowles, OSF. He too is survived by his loving, caring Brothers Augustus (AnneMarie)Mantia, MD, Rev. Fr. Gerald Cestare, his many cousins & those to whom he is honored to be “Uncle Kenny”. He is also survived by the NUMEROUS Families he served & the hearts he touched in his generous life The Maher Family has asked that, in lieu of floral tributes, donations be made to the Kenneth J. Maher Memorial Fund,829 Middle Country Road, Route 25, Saint James, NY 11780
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