By Ken Doherty
The Methuen Fire Department lost one of its most valued members on Christmas Eve with the sudden passing of retired firefighter Shawn C. Danahy Sr.
Shawn began his career on the department in 1990. Previous to that, he was a skilled carpenter, roofer and a fearless steeplejack working for his father’s company, John Jennings Co. of Methuen.
He took over the business after his father, James Danahy, passed away suddenly in 1988 at age 56.
From his first days as a firefighter, he proved to be a proficient worker and dedicated department member. Whatever job he was assigned, he did it very well. He was the person you wanted by your side at a fire. He was well-liked, widely respected and an ideal role model for the younger firefighters.
But Shawn’s dedication to the job didn’t stop at the end of his shift. He was always there to proudly represent the department in his free time at parades, funerals and community events.
Where he really stood out was in the extra tasks he freely took on in the stations. He utilized his amazing carpentry skills to make many improvements to the buildings. He could do anything from rough carpentry to finished cabinetry. When the back porch at the Central Fire Station fell into disrepair, he headed a project with other firefighters to rebuild and expand the structure.
When vandals burned down the concession stand at Forest Lake, he took charge of rebuilding it with his fellow firefighters, saving the city thousands of dollars. It was a team project and Shawn never claimed any credit for himself.
But perhaps Shawn’s greatest effort was his work on the Methuen Firefighters Memorial Monument that stands in front of the Central Fire Station. He eagerly took on the difficult task of dismantling the heavy bell from its rotting mounting in the tower and preparing it for removal. He arranged for Boddy Rigging Company to donate a crane and crew to take it down. He then arranged with Helfrich Brothers Boiler Works in Lawrence to clean the bell and manufacture a marvelous cradle for it – which they graciously donated in memory of their father. Once again, he did all of this on his own time without any form of compensation or without taking any credit. The beautiful monument is a permanent testament to his quiet dedication and generosity to the department and the city.
Shawn was proud to be a Methuen firefighter and the department was proud to have him. You couldn’t find a better co-worker or a better friend. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Shawn retired from the Fire Department three years ago. It was his time to spend with the people he loved most: his loving wife, Faith, and his beautiful family. Sadly, it was for only a short while.
His family put together a wonderful video tribute after he died. It’s easy to see from the ever-present smile on his face that he enjoyed the many great times with his immediate and extended family over the years. To know Shawn is to know that he considered his family his greatest accomplishment.
On a personal note, I had the great pleasure of working with Shawn on the Fire Department. He was one of the most kind-hearted and humble people you could ever meet. He always seemed to have a smile on his face and he had a great sense of humor. He loved a good joke, especially the many practical jokes that took place in the stations. He made the job enjoyable. He was a great co-worker and a good friend.
Editor’s note: Ken Doherty served on the Methuen Fire Department from 1980 to 2010. He is the Fire Department historian and wrote “Á History of Methuen and its Fire Department” in 1996.
Danahy family thanks community
Editor’s note: The relatives of retired Methuen firefighter Shawn Danahy Sr., who died Dec. 24, asked MethuenLife to share this message from them.
The Danahy family would like to thank everyone for their condolences, love, support and prayers after the passing of Shawn Sr. Everyone who attended the services, sent flowers, made donations, sent cards, offered kind words, helped in any way and honored Shawn’s life, we thank you so very much. The support and kindness during this difficult time has been incredible.
Faith, Cassie, Shawn Jr., Kelli, Nicholas, Shailyn, Cade, Kai, and all of the family of Shawn Danahy Sr.