Brian Honan

By John Tobin, Former City Councillor, District 6

I first met Brian Honan in late 1994. At the time, both he and I were running for the Boston City Council. I immediately liked his sense of humor and self-deprecating wit. I also noticed something about Brian that I began to take for granted the longer I knew him. Brian was everywhere. Whether it was a community meeting, ribbon cutting or gathering, as long as there was at least one constituent or potential voter there, Brian was there too. He wasn’t just a face in the crowd at these events. Brian was there because he cared and he worked hard.

In 1996, I had the great opportunity to work for Brian’s brother, State Representative Kevin Honan. I learned early on that the Honan Family’s mission, elected or not, was to make their neighborhood a better place to live and to raise a family. Brian stayed true to that mission through his outstanding work in the District Attorney’s office, his numerous volunteer efforts and his work on the Boston City Council.

I have a few special memories of Brian that, for me, capture what he was all about.

In August of 1997, I was running in the Falmouth Road Race. I was wearing a Kevin Honan t-shirt. It was an extremely humid morning and the seven-mile course was proving to be a tough challenge. Up ahead, I saw a runner wearing the same Honan shirt that I was wearing. Eager to catch up, I accelerated my pace and found myself running side by side with Brian. I asked him how he was doing, without even looking at me he said, “Is this *&%@*& race ever going to end?” Needless to say that Brian and I both had a better time in the hours after the race ended.

My wife Kate adored Brian even though she only knew him for a couple of years. Kate used to marvel that Brian was unlike some other politicians. She admired that he didn’t take himself too seriously and was able to see the humorous side of a situation.

During my race for the Boston City Council in 2001, I was stunned to lose my preliminary race by 800 votes. The first person to greet me in my headquarters that night was Brian. He even came to our gathering that evening and stayed the whole night consoling me and telling me to keep my chin up through the rest of the campaign. Six weeks later, we won the final election by more than 1,000 votes. I walked into our jubilant headquarters and saw Brian standing in almost in the same spot he was standing in a month and a half earlier. All he said was, “I told you, Slick!” I later learned that “Slick” was Brian’s favorite term of endearment for nearly everyone.

Brian was set to enter the hospital for his surgery on Friday, July 26, 2002. On Thursday, I called his home to wish him well. I expected to get his answering machine because, even to the last minute, he was in the midst of furious campaigning. Much to my surprise, Brian answered the phone. We talked for several minutes and, of course, joked around a bit. On Saturday, I received a card from Brian thanking me for my friendship and support. On Tuesday, Brian was gone. I now keep that card framed on the wall of my office. It is something that I will always treasure.

I learned a lot from Brian and I am grateful to have known him. While any one of us would do anything to have Brian back with us, if just for a day, we are fortunate this spirit is around us and his legacy of laughter, hard work, loyalty and never forgetting where he came from lives on.

Brian Honan had thousands of friends. We are all fortunate to be part of that big circle. Thank you Brian.