Tribute To My Father
My father was a very interesting person. Not because he was my father but he truly was cut from a different kind of cloth. He was an "A-type" personality that definitely did things his way and on his terms. Nothing was ever given to him and it always came hard and sometimes at a very high price. Despite the natural constraints that society burdened him with, he persevered. He was not just a survivor but an over-achiever. His philosophy was simple; educate yourself, have a career, be the best at whatever you do, save your money and invest well. Observing his discipline and frugality taught me important lessons on managing money. Although he was overly cautious on his investment strategy, he always hedged his stock equity with US bonds. Not exactly what I would do but it taught me an important lesson: ALWAYS try to mitigate risk. He thought I wasn't paying attention but I obviously was. It is a philosophy I live by on a daily basis. Without directly showing me or instructing me, his actions were enough for me to notice his financial achievements.
This is my father…Billy Mahoney
He was a family man. He was married to my stepmother Ruby Mahoney for over 60 years. He was a former Philadelphia police officer.
He was also an engineer at Boeing. In his later years, he became a politician. He wasn’t an elected official but a self-appointed one. He was a grand-father who was affectionately called “Poppie” by his grandchildren, great nieces and nephews.
My dad was born in 1925. Some say he was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He says he was born
in Buloxi, Mississippi. He grew up in Detroit and graduated from high school at the age of 14.
The Military Experience
He lied about his age and joined the Marines at the age of 15. He served with them for a few years and somehow ended up in the Air Force. He was taught how to pilot a plane on a bet between white officers that blacks weren’t capable of flying an aircraft. He was part of bomber crews even before the Tuskegee Airmen flew. On one mission, he was shot down and was POW in a Japanese camp.
He served in multiple campaigns throughout World war II. At some point, he was shot with a machine gun. I remember seeing the bullet scars on his back and chest when he would take off his shirt. He was honorably discharged from military service around 1951.
Around the mid 50’s, he became a Philadelphia police officer and a member of the highway patrol and eventually became the first black to pilot the city’s police helicopter.
He retired from the police force in the latter 60’s and eventually landed a job with Boeing Vertol, the helicopter division. My father was a good politician even back then and eventually worked his way up the corporate latter as the Director of Functional Testing for the highly secretive V-22 project.
He was recognized many times by Senior management and won numerable awards. He would often fly to Seattle to have lunch with the President of Boeing. Although the President of the company assured him he could remain in his position for life, he retired in the latter 90’s.
My father worked all his life and was his own self-made man. He saved and invested well. He always lived life to the fullest, so why should his golden years be any different. During his retirement, my parents began to travel extensively. He always wanted a boat so he bought himself a 40 foot Silverton.
He even bought himself a Rolls Royce. Life was good for my parents but my dad had an urgent sense that he needed to contribute to something bigger than himself.
The Politician Emerges
He joined an advocacy organization comprised of retired police officers called the Sentinels of Law Enforcement. He eventually became president of the group and held the position for many
My father was very charismatic so he got around and networked with many advocates, politicians and activists.
He served as co-Chair for NABLEO and Vice Chairman for NOBLE. Over the years he concurrently held various senior level positions with multiple law enforcement organizations. He was even part of an international law enforcement committee.
Dad was highly respected and well-liked by just about everyone. He became a mentor to many high ranking officials. He lobbied many of the different facets of law enforcement for votes during election time. He knew exactly when to leverage those votes along with the chips he was carrying in his back pocket.
He was personal friends with two governors: Governor Florio of New Jersey and Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania. Many political figures may have disagreed with him publically but behind closed doors they called him a friend.
In 2006, he along with his partner Cliff Lowery, formed a private security service that provided security for political dignitaries.
My father kept an aggressive schedule meeting with various people and speaking at different venues, yet he always took time out to listen to every complaint and be that champion for the little guy.
He never would have stopped until I guess God needed him to rest. My father died peacefully at home on June 10th, 2013 at the age 88. He told me once that I had some really big shoes to fill and he was right. He made such an impression on me more so than he ever realized.
On July 2nd, 2013, the Guardian Civic League and Fraternal Order of Police honored my father and his multiple contributions to not only law enforcement but to justice, liberty, civil rights and education.
State Representative Vanessa Brown, a dear and close friend honored him with inclusion in the Pennsylvania Legislature. She
said that Billy Mahoney was a great Pennsylvanian and a son of Philadelphia.
Yes, he was that and more. To me he was my dad and a hell of a father. I love you dad and miss you.
~ D ~