Hynes Remembered Not As A Personality, But As A Friend

By: Debra Lawless

Jack Hynes. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM He was toasted as “the dean of Boston TV news,” but to Chatham residents who called the late anchorman Jack Hynes a friend, he was charming and accessible—a man who loved to talk about politics and sports.

On Feb. 13, Mr. Hynes, 88, died of heart failure in Hingham. A son of John B. Hynes, Boston’s mayor from 1950 to 1960, Mr. Hynes was a well-known reporter and anchor on Boston channels five and 56 for over half a century. He retired in 2006.

During Mr. Hynes’ career, he covered the Boston Strangler, interviewed presidents and traveled to Vietnam for four months in 1968 to report on the war. He won top awards in broadcasting and was nominated for Emmy Awards three times. Boston Magazine crowned him the “Best TV Anchor.”

Yet Chatham, which was his home, was Mr. Hynes’ “refuge from the hustle and bustle of the news business, the grind and the pressure,” his son Barry Hynes remembered last week. “He could come to Chatham and relax and quite frankly let his hair down a little bit.”

Mr. Hynes bought his first home in Chatham on Cabot Lane near Harding’s Beach in 1964, and the family began coming down in the summers, Barry Hynes said. In 1970, Mr. Hynes bought land in the Harding’s Beach area and built a house on the water. During the week, he would stay in Brookline and work while his wife Marie, who died in 1998, took care of the four children – John III, Barry, Kelly and Shauna – who attended Chatham schools.

“He had a special thing about Chatham, its rich beauty, its access to the water, that it was unique and had character and it wasn't commercialized,” Barry Hynes said.

Mr. Hynes’ friends, too, spoke of his deep love for small town life in Chatham.

“He was devoted to Chatham,” attorney and long-time town moderator Bill Litchfield said about Mr. Hynes, whom he called “a dear friend” of over half a century. “He was a remarkable guy.”

In addition to his work on Boston television, Mr. Hynes began selling real estate in Chatham in the 1960s. In a 2009 interview, he called his work in local real estate “fun and interesting.”

Janice Alex, a broker for Stage Harbor Realty, worked with Mr. Hynes in the mid-1980s at Hudson Eldridge Real Estate and Insurance which was once on Main Street across from the Orpheum Theater.

“What a wonderful man. He was always, always a gentleman,” Alex said. “Very considerate of other people, I felt. He just had a nice way about him.” In recent years, Alex would bump into Mr. Hynes on Harding’s Beach or in a restaurant and they’d talk about real estate.

“He was well dressed, handsome. He always looked dapper. He had a lot of charm,” she said. “I was so happy that I did get to work with him. He was a nice guy, and I’m sorry he’s gone.”

If Mr. Hynes loved Chatham, Chatham loved him back. In 2001, he served as grand marshal for the Fourth of July parade. He also gave back to the town by serving on various committees including the Historic Business District Commission. A marathon runner, he was a founder of the Chatham Harbor Run.

Beginning in 2008, Mr. Hynes sold real estate through Chatham Properties Group. He left the firm last June. The firm’s owner, broker Doug Grattan, called him “Chatham’s greatest ambassador. He loved the town and what was going on in it.  He would love to come in and talk about the local politics, the progress the town was making with the school regionalization, sewer installation and the current housing market and building trends.

“Jack was a wealth of knowledge about Chatham’s past and had his thumb on its pulse and the direction it was heading,” Grattan said. “And he was damn proud of it. He was very proud to call Chatham home.”

Mr. Hynes could often be found eating lunch at the dining room bar at the Chatham Squire. Jon Vaughn, owner of Yankee Ingenuity on Main Street, often joined him.

“That half hour when John was there was probably the most politically-enlightened lunch I’ve ever had,” Vaughn said. “That’s what we did for that half hour, we talked politics, national politics.”

Mr. Hynes’ family planned a celebration of his life at the Squire following his memorial service last Monday. Deep down, “my father was as regular as anybody sitting at that raw bar in the Squire,” Barry Hynes said.

Brad Schiff, who served on the Chatham 300 Committee, asked Mr. Hynes in 2010 to record a video introduction for the Chatham 300 celebration that was held in 2012. Then, in 2012, Mr. Hynes emceed the time capsule ceremony at the former Chatham High School on Crowell Road.

“You still heard the voice. He commanded everyone’s attention,” Schiff recalled. “He had lived through the past half century of Chatham’s history.” Mr. Hynes handled the event “very smoothly” in front of hundreds of people. “He was a very charming man.”

Schiff and Mr. Hynes got to be “very good friends.” Schiff, too, talked politics with him and also noted “he was a big Notre Dame Fighting Irish guy.” They ate together at the Squire and at the Wequassett Inn and there also talked about the news business. “He was as sharp as a tack through his life. He could talk about any subject.”

There is no doubt that Chatham will miss one of its most famous and beloved long-time residents.

“Chatham was part of him,” Barry Hynes said. “He loved the local people, because he was a local guy.”