East Boston Resident and Longtime BPD Officer Robert Anthony Retires

Last week, lifelong East Boston resident, former East Boston High School hockey coach Robert Anthony announced he was retiring from the Boston Police Department after a stellar 36 year career with the department.

Anthony, who grew up in the Orient Heights projects before his family moved to Gladstone Street, joined the US Military in 1975 after graduating high school and was a K-9 handler in the military.

After three years in the service Anthony became a uniformed Secret Service agent during the Carter and Reagan Administration and after a brief stint as a US Postal Worker he joined the Boston Police Department in 1986.

“I achieved what I considered my lifetime dream and that was to become a Boston Police officer,” said Anthony. “I was able to fulfill that dream and I think I did a good job. It’s like anything you know, you get your good days and you get your bad days. There were some good times on the job. There were some bad times on the job but that comes with any career and no matter what you do in your profession but I wouldn’t trade it and the experiences I had.”

After his first assignment in Charlestown Anthony was reassigned to Eastie’s District A-7 station in 1993 as a member of the SWAT team.

As an officer in Eastie, Anthony began to volunteer his time and became head hockey coach at EBHS in the 1990s and retired a few years back after 20 years. He and his late wife, Jackie, also established an annual Breast Cancer Awareness Hockey Tournament in Eastie to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

In 2007, former BPD Commissioner Ed Davis appointed Anthony as the department’s resident historian after Anthony began researching the history of officers killed in the line of duty and lobbying for memorials to be established across the city in their honor.

The first memorial Anthony worked on was right here in Eastie when he discovered the first officer ever killed in the line of duty in Boston. On October 18, 1857, Hodsdon was shot and killed by a suspect as he attempted to arrest a second suspect in the area of Havre Street and Maverick Street in East Boston. Both suspects were later identified and arrested. Through his research Hodsdon was the first Boston Police Officer killed in the line of duty. He was 25 years old at the time of his death and had served with the Boston Police Department for one year.

Anthony’s research led to not only discovering the history of those killed in the line of duty but also establishing memorials for the first African American to serve on the Boston Police, the first Latino as well as the first Italian.

“I was also able to put up 92 Heroes signs throughout the city of Boston at various locations where an officer died in the line of duty,” said Anthony. “I was able to track down 32 names of officers that were not listed on the Police Memorial Wall down in Washington DC but should have been included.”

The last name Anthony tracked down was fitting considering he announced his retirement just a year later.

On March 6, 1964 Boston Police Patrolman Edward Lynch, of East Boston, was killed in the line of duty after chasing a stolen vehicle from Dorchester to Quincy early that fateful morning but his name was never added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC.

“I had been working with the Lynch family in East Boston for a few years,” said Anthony. “With the assistance of the information they sent me a few years ago we found that Patrolman Edward Lynch, of East Boston, was overlooked for “Killed in the Line of Duty” status and was never added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.”

Anthony said Lynch’s name was finally be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in last June.

“His name was also added to the Hero Wall at Boston Police Headquarters as well as the Massachusetts State House Memorial,” said Anthony.

Anthony said one of his proudest moments came in 2010 when the Boston Police honored Horatio J. Homer–the city’s first African American Officer who retired from the force in 1923.

While Homer was featured in several Boston Daily Globe articles during his lifetime, he was largely forgotten by the public after his death. In 2010, his historic role was rediscovered by police archivist Margaret Sullivan and Anthony. Later that year, police and city officials arranged to have a headstone installed at he and his wife Lydia’s grave who, for the past 87 years, rested in an unmarked grave and were forgotten. They held a memorial service attended by over 400 officers.

“This historical figure was buried in an unmarked grave in Brighton and I was proud we were able to right that wrong and have a nice ceremony for Officer Homer,” said Anthony.

In the end, Anthony looks forward to ‘laying low’, enjoying his grandkids and their growing families and relaxing.

“I felt that I was able to make a difference,” he said.

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