John J. Bilafer
BILAFER, John J. 86, died peacefully on Tuesday, July 10, at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, MA, after a brief illness. He was born on February 1, 1932, to Christopher and Rose (Susnar) Bilafer at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. He was brought home to Arlington by his parents to be raised in the town that he would call home for his entire life and to which he devoted decades of community service. He attended the Crosby School, the Junior High East and Arlington High School, graduating in 1949. After one year at New Preparatory School in Cambridge, MA, he went on to attend Harvard College, graduating in 1954 with a degree in Government. He served two years in the United States Navy stationed on the U.S.S. Olmstead and achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Upon his return from military service, he attended Boston College Law School, graduating in 1959. He then practiced law in Arlington, during which time he also served eight years as a member of the Board of Selectman. In 1972, he was elected Town Treasurer, a post he held for 33 years until his retirement in 2005. Among his many accomplishments as a town official, he was most proud of instituting the Town of Arlington Scholarship Program, which has helped many Arlington residents further their education. The program has since been renamed as the John J. Bilafer Arlington Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation in this honor. He also served as Chair of the Arlington Contributory Retirement Board from 2001 until his passing. A lifelong learner, he attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Finance in 1995 and a Masters in Finance in 1999, both from Bentley College. His expertise in municipal finance led him to serve on the Executive Board of the Government Finance Officers Association of U.S. and Canada, and then as GFOA’s Parliamentarian. On November 25, 1965, he married Elizabeth Russell, commencing a life together of more than fifty years filled with laughter and good times with family and friends, travel across the U.S. and abroad, and winter months on Sanibel Island, FL. They had two children, Stephen and Mary Ellen and two grandchildren. Outside of his family and community, John’s lifelong passion was the fates and fortunes of the Boston Red Sox. Spanning eras from a Ted Williams to Dustin Pedroia, he was a regular attendee at Fenway Park and spring training in Fort Myers and a member of the BoSox Club. His presence also will be missed at Harvard Stadium and Bright-Landry Hockey Center, where he faithfully supported Harvard football and hockey throughout the years. He is survived by his beloved wife of 52 years, Liz; his son Stephen Bilafer and his wife Maura; daughter Mary Ellen and her husband Tom Bache; grandchildren Brian Bilafer and Gloria Bilafer; and several nieces and nephews. A funeral Mass will be held on Monday, July 16, at St. Agnes Church in Arlington at 10 am. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours will be held on Sunday July 15th from 3-7 pm at the Keefe Funeral Home in Arlington. Burial in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Arlington. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made instead to the Bilafer/Kovich Family Scholarship, c/o John J. Bilafer Dollars for Scholars Program, Office of the Treasurer/Collector, Robbins Memorial Town Hall, 730 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA, 02476.
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