OLD ORCHARD BEACH and FT. MYERS, FLA. – Joseph Flaherty was a well-known insurance agent in Portland and a dedicated football official who officiated more than 400 high school, college and semi-pro football games in his 25 years on the field.
Mr. Flaherty, who devoted his life to family, football and his community, died Saturday after a period of declining health. He was 82.
He owned and operated The Joseph C. Flaherty Insurance Agency in Portland for 30 years.
He started the agency in 1967 from humble beginnings. He worked from an office in the basement of his home in Portland selling home, life and automobile insurance.
In the late 1970s, he relocated to an office building on Forest Avenue. He retired in 1997.
His daughter Lois Flaherty, of South Portland, said he was a successful agent, who had a solid reputation and a loyal following.
“He established a business that sustained itself for 30 years,” she said. “It was because of his ability to connect with people. He had a lot of connections to people growing up here.”
Mr. Flaherty attended Portland schools and graduated from Cheverus High School in 1948.
There, he was a standout on the school’s football, track and basketball teams. A highlight of his life was being inducted into the Cheverus Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
“He was thrilled,” said his daughter Donna McMorrow, of Methuen, Mass. “He really was. It was a very proud moment for him and for us. It was an event that brought a lot of the family together.”
He was a loving husband to Marjorie Flaherty for 52 years. The couple lived in Portland and raised four children. They moved to Old Orchard Beach in 2003.
He was remembered by his children this week as a supportive and loving father who was involved in their lives.
His daughters reminisced on Tuesday about their family vacations on Little Sebago Lake. Lois Flaherty remembered how her father would swim with them after a long day at work.
“He would take a dip with us,” she said. “He would stay with us and swim with us. We would jump on his back and put our arms around his neck. He would dive under the water and swim. We loved that. I think we all did that with our kids when they were young, too.”
Donna McMorrow noted her father’s devotion to his grandchildren. She said he lit up when he saw them.
“He had that same sense of humor with them as he did with us,” McMorrow said. “Family was so important to him. It’s where he found a lot of joy in life.”
Mr. Flaherty had a passion for life and live it to its fullest. He took many trips and cruises with his wife. For many years, they drove from Maine to Florida every fall, stopping at places in between such as Atlantic City, N.J., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.
“They tried to see as much as they could,” McMorrow said.
Lois Flaherty said her father was a social and outgoing guy who had a great sense of humor and never shied away from the spotlight. At weddings and celebrations, he was often called to the stage to sing popular Irish songs.
“(People) always looked to Dad to sing and get the party going,” Lois Flaherty said.
As a well-known football official, McMorrow said, her father officiated many of the Thanksgiving Day games between Portland and Deering High Schools.
He also had a passion for golf and enjoyed playing with his friends at the Hideaway Country Club in Florida.
Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: