|MORE THAN 2000 REVERE MEMORY|
Was Shot by Mexico City Police.
of B. U. Writes High Tribute.
| One of the saddest incidents in Arlington's history culminated Tuesday
morning with the funeral and burial of Francis D. Ahern, who was shot and killed by the police in Mexico City
just a week before. More than two thousand relatives, friends, former High School associates and
classmates from B. U. taxed the seating capacity of huge St. Agnes Church to more than capacity. Those
who were unable to enter the church followed the casket to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, where the burial service
was read and was followed by taps blown by a small lad in uniform of Troop 7, to which Francis belonged.
Francis was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank the organization affords.
Floral tributes were unbelievably beautiful and profuse, and included more than fifty
set pieces and twice that number of spiritual bouquets. Town officials were present as well as a unit from the
Reserve Officers' Training Corp, in which Francis was a corporal in C Company.
Solemn high mass of requiem was celebrated by pastor, Rev. Matthew J. Flaherty,
with Leo J. McCann, deacon and Justin C. Durocher, subdeacon. Within the chancel were Rev. John B.
Creeden, S. J., for many years president of Georgetown University and now head of Boston College Law
School, and Rev. John Connor of St. Philip's Church, Boston. All those priests and curates who participated
in the mass knew and loved the boy. The funeral was the largest that Arlington has ever seen.
The music for the mass was played by Miss Mary McFarlane, Mrs. Anna Driscoll and
John R. Hendrick were soloists. Six of the nineteen-year-old lad's first cousins were pallbearers. They were
Robert Glennon of Woburn, Robert Kelley of Arlington, Thomas O'Neill of Cambridge, Alfred Ahern of
Dorchester, John Ahern and Philip Ahern of Arlington. [Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill's mother, Rose Ann (Tolan)
O'Neill, and Francis' mother, Margaret A. (Tolan) Ahern, were sisters.]
Francis D. Ahern was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Timothy C. Ahern who lived at 52
Wyman terrace, from whence the funeral started. Besides his mother and father he is survived in the
immediate family by two sisters, Gertrude and Jean.
It has been ordered by Lieutenant Colonel Ganoe, Infantry, that In
reverence and memory of Cadet Corporal Ahern, the colors of the Boston University Reserve Officers
Training Corps Unit will be draped in mourning for one month, effective on this date. (November 26).
The Ahern family has received hundreds of messages and expressions of sympathy
from a great variety of people. Some of those who wrote were the president of the Student Council at
Arlington High School, which organization Francis himself headed in 1932-33; the president of the class
of 1937, Boston University; the managing editor of the Boston University News, the commandant of the
Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Arlington Board of Selectmen, Sarah J. Bullock, one of the best loved
teachers at Arlington High School; the Governor-elect of the Commonwealth, James M. Curley; Dean
Everett W. Lord of Boston University, and many other prominent people. The following is the particularly
interesting and helpful letter of Dean Lord:
Mr. Timothy D. [sic] Ahern,
53 Wyman Terrace,
My dear Mr. Ahern:
The news of the death of your son, in Mexico, has brought a profound shock to all
of us at Boston University, and especially to all those who had any contact with Francis during his course
here. I speak for all of the faculty and, without doubt, the students as well, in sending to you and his mother
our sincere sympathy.
I have been looking up the records, and I think you may be interested to know what
comments were made on your son when he entered the College of Business Administration. First, looking
back to the report from the Arlington High School, in answer to the question, Do you recommend
this applicant on the basis of character, Mr. Gammons, the Principal of the School, wrote,
Yeshe is a fine young man, with the fine underscored three times,
and he added, He has an excellent character and a fine personality.
At the beginning of the course every freshman has special conferences with two
members of the faculty, who are asked to report their impressions of him. The reports on Francis which were
given to me are, Self-confident, wholesome youth of pleasant personality, and Very
gentlemanly, keen-minded; has distinct qualities of leadership and should develop into a leader here.
In the short time that he was with us he gave reason to believe that these
judgments were well founded. We looked for him to take a leading place among the students and in
all his future activities.
Knowing what I do about Francis I feel sure that there could be no excuse for the
shooting. I cannot believe that he could have conducted himself other than a gentleman and a Christian, and
I sincerely hope that his slayer may be brought to justice.
I have thought much of you and Francis' mother and only wish that it were possible
to assuage even in the least the grief that you must feel. Though I cannot do that I can at least share that
grief with you.
Everett W. Lord
The editor of the Advocate was fortunate Wednesday afternoon in a personal
interview with the lad's uncle, Daniel F. Ahern, with whom he went to Mexico City. Mr. Ahern is a greatly
saddened man and could barely control his grief during the interview, especially while he was showing
pictures of his nephew taken with him at Atlantic City, which the pair had visited on a previous trip. That
Daniel was more than fond of the boy is indicated by the fact that he has taken his nephew with him on
trips all over the country, because he enjoyed his companionship. Francis was called Happy
Ahern by his mates at Arlington High School, and he was well named.
Concerning the details of the shooting, Mr. Ahern was able to throw little new light
on the tragedy, since nothing further has been heard from Mexico. He wished to say, however, that he was
extremely grateful for the courteous help given him all the way home. The railroad trip was shortened by
many hours through the courtesy of business friends in the American Refrigerator Transit Company and
the Missouri Pacific Lines. Mr. Ahern himself is treasurer of Lord & Spencer Inc., commission merchants
in fruit and produce.
The train bearing the body was met at every stop by friends of the bereaved uncle.
Louis Weller, railroad traffic manager, met the train at St. Louis and accompanied the body to Boston for the
About three weeks ago Daniel Ahern was summoned to Laredo, Texas, as a
government witness in a court case. He invited Francis to go there with him and then on further business
to Mexico City, which he considered one of the finest in the world. Young Francis had no difficulty in
receiving a leave of absence from Boston University, since he is an honor student, but he took along
a big suitcase-full of books that he might study while on the trip.
After the pair had toured Mexico City all afternoon in the automobile of a business
friend, Mr. Ahern sat down in the lobby of the hotel to write some cards and telegrams while Francis went to
his room to study. After ten o'clock Mr. Ahern stepped out to dispatch his telegrams. When he came back
he went up to the room which he shared with Francis only to find it locked. He procured the key from the
desk clerk and was about to get into bed when he was called to the telephone. He was told that his nephew
was at the police station.
Mr. Ahern procured two interpreters and went to the police station, which was
really a dungeon, he said, but no one there knew anything. From there he went to the hospital and arrived
a minute or two before Francis was brought in, a little before eleven o'clock.
The bullet had passed through the body just below the heart. Francis was
conscious before and after the operation to remove the bullet, but he was unable to tell what had
happened. Toward the end which came in the early hours of the morning he kept saying, Cover
that pass, his mind apparently going back to the days of his football brilliance at Arlington High
The whole tragedy must have taken place between approximate hours of twenty
minutes past ten and twenty minutes of eleven. Francis probably came down from his room to look for his
uncle, and when he failed to find him in the lobby, stepped into the street. He left his hat and coat in his room.
After that no one knows exactly what happened, but it is a fact that his wrist watch
and a valuable ring, both gifts of his uncle, were missing. And it is just as certain that since Francis was a
strong, athletic lad he would attempt to defend himself if attacked.
The Mexico City papers were violent in denouncing the police, calling the shooting
murder and assassination. They also state that Jesus Lopez, a police officer,
will be indicted. Lopez, who like the rest of the Mexican police, carried a rifle as well as side arms, claimed that
he fired in self-defense. Young Ahern was, of course, unarmed.
Mr. Ahern stated that he was most grateful to the American Consul-General,
Thomas H. Bowman, and his assistants, who were Messrs. Wilson, Minor and Leavitt. Mr. Leavitt was
formerly of the Kidder-Peabody Company in Boston. Consul-General Bowman did all in his power to make
easy the transportation of the boy's body out of Mexico, and is still conducting a vigorous investigation of
| Arlington Advocate 30 November 1934|