|During his extended engagement running the Comedy Connection in Faneuil Hall, Frank Ahearn
managed everything that needed managing. Plates had to be placed just so. Working the door was elevated
to an art form. Sometimes even the owners needed oversight. "I used to say, 'I might be the owner, but
you're the boss,' and it was true," said Paul Barclay, who co-owned the club in Mr. Ahearn's early years as
general manager. "With Frank, I knew my place." A fixture in Boston's comedy scene for nearly two decades,
Mr. Ahearn more recently co-owned Tommy's Comedy Lounge with John M. Tobin Jr., a city councilor, and
was general manager of Firefly's restaurant in Quincy. He died Monday in South Shore Hospital in Weymouth
of complications of two strokes, in December and late last month. Mr. Ahearn was 53 and had lived in
Andrew Square in Dorchester for many years.
"He was able to really bridge the gap between kind of the older guys in the scene, the guys who brought
the scene to Boston, and the middle and newer guys that have come along," Tobin said in a May interview,
posted on YouTube, after the first of two benefit shows in which comedians raised money to defray
Mr. Ahearn's expenses. Tobin added that "Frank was always kind of the guy out on the golf course,
as a roommate, as a confidant, as a friend. . . . When things go awry, you go to Frank Ahearn, no matter
what the issue is."
That was the case with colleagues, employees, and relatives, some of whom Mr. Ahearn hired at the
Comedy Connection. "People who worked for him showed him an insane amount of respect," said Dan
Lattuada of Bridgewater, who worked in the box office for his uncle at the club. "He gave everybody a
chance," said another nephew, John Groneman of Denver, who formerly was a bartender at the Comedy
Connection. "We've heard so many stories over the past few days, people saying I am who I am because
Frank gave me that job, that opportunity, whatever it was: bartender, waitress, doorman."
Paula Murphy, general manager of the Charles Playhouse, worked for Mr. Ahearn in the 1990s as a waitress
and bartender at the Comedy Connection. "You just knew he was the man," she said. "You just knew it.
You didn't have to be told it, and you certainly wouldn't be told it by him. He didn't necessarily want to be
the center of attention, but fun gravitated to him." She added that although Mr. Ahearn was a
behind-the-scenes guy in a business filled with talented comedians, he was "probably funnier
than a lot of them."
Francis X. Ahearn grew up in Abington, the youngest of six children. His mother was town clerk, his
father was involved in town politics, and the house was often abuzz with
parties and political gatherings. "Frank was always attracted to that social part of it," said his sister
Sheila Groneman of Silverthorne, Colo., who added that Mr. Ahearn "was an entrepreneur even when
he was young." "In high school, he had his own house painting business," she said. "Frank was a born
leader. He would take charge and loved to organize."
He graduated in 1975 from Abington High School and four years later from the University of New Haven in
Connecticut, from which he received a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management. Over the
next decade, he managed restaurants and a hotel before the Comedy Connection's co-owners hired him
when they moved the club into Faneuil Hall in the early 1990s. "It was one of the best decisions we made,"
Barclay said. "He liked comedy, but he liked comedians even more. They gravitated to him." So did the
staff at the Comedy Connection, Barclay said. "All the employees who worked for him were like family,"
he said. "Not just, 'Hi, how you doing.' Out of his own pocket he would take them out to dinner at the
Christmas holidays every year. He would pick up the whole tab himself. He would take them to Foxwoods;
he would take them to sporting events. If there was a concert he knew they all wanted to see, he'd get
tickets." "That was Frank," said his sister Joellen Lattuada of Rockland, with whom Mr. Ahearn briefly
lived when he left a rehabilitation facility after his first stroke. "Frank would do that for people he didn't
Sheila Groneman said her brother "liked to connect people and be connected to people." "What we used
to hear from my dad was, 'It's nice to be important but it's important to be nice,'" she said. "That was
extremely important to Frank. It didn't matter if you were a Hollywood comedian or a high school math
teacher. It was important that people be kind and nice. What was most important was how you treated
At the Comedy Connection, Mr. Ahearn "loved to give somebody local a shot on the stage," his sister said.
"He could recognize talent; he could recognize someone's passion and commitment, which was really
important. Even to his nieces and nephews he would say, 'If you're going to do something, do it with
commitment.'" Among the commitments Mr. Ahearn honored were benefits he organized to raise money
for various causes supported by his many friends. Some benefits were annual affairs, and when possible,
he tried to make the fund-raising event a golf tournament. An avid golfer, he found a course every
Wednesday wherever he was, and the weather had to be miserable to keep him away.
"If there was no snow on the ground, Frank was golfing," said Joellen Lattuada.
"He was one of the few guys I've met who had no regrets," Murphy said. "He lived large. He knew everyone.
He loved everyone. He laughed hard. He got it all in. We should all be more Frankish." In addition to his
two sisters and two nephews, Mr. Ahearn leaves two brothers, William of Rockland and James Michael
of Marshfield; and another sister, Maryellen of Cape Canaveral, Fla.
A funeral Mass will be said at 9 a.m. Friday in St. Bridget's Church in Abington.