Great Loss, Enduring Presence: Winthrop Celebrates the Lives of Dimes and McFarland

McFarland on Police Force for 48 Years

It is with deep sadness that Chief Terence Delehanty and the members of the Winthrop Police Department announce the passing of Winthrop Police Special Officer (Retired Detective) Robert “Bob” McFarland.   Detective McFarland passed away on Tuesday January 19, 2021 after a long battle with an illness.

Detective McFarland, 75, had served as a Winthrop Police Officer for 48 years.  Detective McFarland was also a veteran who served in the United States Air Force for 4 years from August of 1964 to August of 1968. 

Robert McFarland.


Detective McFarland was hired as a reserve officer on September 1, 1972.  He was appointed full-time on December 12, 1974.  After several years in patrol Detective McFarland served as a Detective and Court Officer at East Boston District Court for the Winthrop Police Department for over 25 years.     Detective McFarland retired from full time duty on November 11, 2010.  Since retirement Detective McFarland served as a special police officer until his passing.   He could always be seen at his favorite detail in the morning smiling and waving on traffic at the Belle Isle Bridge.

Detective McFarland was known for his big smile and positive attitude.   He was a true conversationalist and loved people.   He earned a reputation for always extending a helping hand to anyone in need.   Along with his investigation duties Detective McFarland was known for his court officer assignment and long standing appointment as Winthrop Police Department liaison to East Boston District Court.  Detective McFarland was loved by judges, court personnel, assistant district attorneys and defense attorneys. 

Detective McFarland also earned a reputation as a “worker” in the department, often working long hours  to ensure he could provide a good life for his loving wife Janis, son Robert jr. and wife Laurie and his most precious assets his granddaughter’s Kylie, Briella and Mia.

Detective McFarland is pictured, below, waving with his ever-present big smile in a recent Memorial Day Parade and with son Robert.

Arrangements to follow when available.

Dick Dimes Was Longtime Public Official

Richard D. “Dick” Dimes, who served in town government in many capacities in a career of public service that spanned more than 50 years, passed away last Wednesday, January 13, of natural causes. He was 94.

A native of Chelsea, Dimes served in the U.S. Navy in WWII from 1944-46. He and his wife of 73 years, Margaret, his high school sweetheart, moved to Winthrop in the 1950s.

Dick Dimes.

Dimes soon entered public life. He was elected as a Town Meeting member and then to the Winthrop Planning Board. In the late 1960s he was elected to the Board of Selectmen, on which he served for two terms. 

Dimes, a lifelong Republican, also was active in local GOP affairs. He was a member of the Town Republican Committee and was the Republican nominee for State Representative in the 1970s in an unsuccessful bid against Democrat Ralph Sirianni. 

He continued to sit on various town committees well into his 80s, most notably as the chairman of the DPW facilities construction committee, which was created by Town Meeting in the 1980s to address the need to replace the town’s crumbling and outdated structure that housed the DPW’s trucks and other equipment.

Despite encountering the usual setbacks because of a lack of funding and a suitable space for the project, Dimes continued to be the driving force for the new facility for more than a decade, displaying the same dogged determination that was typical of his zeal to finish what he had started for the betterment of the town, whether he was taking on Massport, the MDC, the MBTA, the Deer Island jail, or the MWRA.

After giving countless hours of his time and effort to the new garage project, Dimes’s dream finally was realized with the construction of the new DPW garage in the late 1990s. In 2012, the town’s Department of Public Works building was named the Richard D. Dimes Public Services Facility. 

Those who spoke at the dedication of the building were effusive in their praise of Dimes.

“The town has had town government for 160 years and Dick Dimes has been part of that for over 50,” said master of ceremonies and former selectman Thomas Reilly, who served with Dimes on the Board of Selectmen in the 1970s. “I think everyone knows the diligence he brought to the office.”

Then-Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo said it was Dimes who asked him to run for a position on the Board of Selectmen.

“It’s interesting to note that a Republican is responsible for a Democratic Speaker of the House,” said DeLeo. “I’ve nominated Dick Dimes every year for ‘Citizen of the Year’ recognition because I honestly felt that there was no one who’s done more for this town than Dick Dimes. He is what you call a true legend.”

DeLeo said he learned a lot from Dimes during their association in town government.

“What I learned from this man in terms of sincerity, loyalty, commitment, and knowledge can never be equaled,” said DeLeo. “He’s truly an amazing guy. Think about the fact that over all these years, Dick Dimes always had such a great love for this community that he continued to serve when other people would have walked away. I can’t thank him enough on behalf of the people of this community.”

Then-Town Council President Peter Gill told the gathering, “When Dick Dimes believed in something, he believed in it passionately. I’m proud to present this town citation to you.”

“I really appreciate this,” Dimes himself said. “Everyone I see has always helped me and they are the backbone of this community because I don’t care what anybody says – we have the airport, we have Deer Island, but we are probably the best small town in the whole Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Dimes asked young residents in the town to step forth and serve on committees. “If today’s generation can come forth and do the same as we did, we’ll continue to be a great town.”

Dimes also was involved in many civic organizations. He was an active sailor at the Cottage Park Yacht Club and was one of the founders of the Winthrop Youth Hockey program, both of which he enjoyed with his children.

In the Sun-Transcript’s special Millennium Edition in 2000, Dimes was named as one of the “100 people who made a difference” in Winthrop in the 20th century.

He is survived by his wife Margaret of Winthrop; daughter Deborah and her husband Frank Traniello of Amesbury; son Richard and wife Cami of Stanwood, WA; son Jonathan and wife Mia Ambata of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

There will be no public service because of COVID-19 restrictions. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan St, B-102, Danvers, MA.

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