William "Mac" McCarthy was one of the great ones. Known for his personality, enthusiasm, and dedication, Mac was a valued member of Times Squares. He also was one of a few gay veterans in the club, as well as an advocate for the homeless. Countless reminders appeared in club newsletter asking for leftover soaps and shampoos from conventions and fly-ins that could be then be donated to homeless shelters.
Mac was an early organizer, along with Paul Sheftman, of the Times Squares Annual Service Award Dinner. It was an opportunity to recognize individuals or groups who had made an outstanding contribution to the club, as well as a social opportunity without dancing. The first recipients were Ken Pollack and Ron Masker. The award later became known as the Mackies, and then officially the Mac McCarthy Service Award.
On a sadder note, this year's Pride events were somewhat overshadowed by the passing of Mac McCarthy. Mac was a friend to Times Squares and kept the club, along with his 10 year medallion, close to his heart. From the beginning Mac was there, part of a nucleus of men that began an organization about to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Mac was friendly and pleasant, he had club spirit, he did his duty several times as a board member, he originated many club activities and participated in them, and he always volunteered to help in any way he could. Mac would have received his 20-year medallion in Phoenix. Past president and friend Sklp Rognlien accepted it in Mac's honor and has turned the medallion over to the Times Squares archives. Men like Mac made it possible for us to be gay square dancers today. In his honor, Pride Dance 2005 will be dedicated to his memory. Please see the article on our website briefly detailing Mac's life and the official honor he received in the Mac Service Award (now the Mac McCarthy Service Award). Mac was quite proud of the article and delighted in the recognition the club bestowed upon him. Memorial service information is listed in this newsletter and on our website. Please join with us on September 21st as we both mourn and take comfort in the words of love, friendship and loyalty that will be spoken by those who knew Mac best. Goodbye old friend. -- Eddie Careri
How Old Was Mac McCarthy?
At the writing of this article, plans for a Memorial Service for Times Squares founding member Mac McCarthy are not complete. However, I do want to take this opportunity to answer a very personal question about Mac that many of you have asked me over the years.
Many of us first met Mac McCarthy when we were brought to P.S. 3 by friends for a square dance Open House. For me, it was Open House in September of l995. The friends who brought me were Larry Petterson and Pedro Maymi. As a founding member of the club, Mac made it his business to be there, and to dance with as many new faces as possible. Luckily for me, I was one of those faces. Mac was an angel during that year's Mainstream Class, and before long we became good friends.
Soon I began arriving for class at P.S. 3 with interesting stories of the adventures Mac and I had had during the week: Broadway plays, walking tours, dinner parties, car trips, etc. Invariably, when I would come to the end of one of those stories. Someone would ask me the same question, week after week: "How old is Mac?" Sometimes the question was even whispered to me.
Were you one of those dancers who asked me that question over the last 9 years? Well, you were not alone. And while I did not have an answer for you then. I do have an answer now.
No, Mac never told me his age. But since his death in June, I've had time to analyze the information, crunch the numbers, and connect the dots.
How old was Mac McCarthy? I’ll tell you: He was younger than I am! I have come to this conclusion by understanding four basic facts about how William "Mac" McCarthy chose to live his life.
In the first place, Mac was one of those people who walked into a room with a smile on his face and a story on his lips. A story that often made people laugh. And yes, Mac often laughed the loudest because he loved the telling of the story more than the story. Doing so kept him young at heart long after his hair had turned gray.
In the second place, Mac had dozens of friends who kept him active and young. He had 40-year friendships with people who knew him as "Bill' and could recall when Mac first moved to New York. He had new friends he made last year in Ireland. Mac had friends in Detroit with whom he recently celebrated his 50th High School Reunion. And yes, he had friends in the travel business, the entertainment business, friends from the Veterans associations, friends in the neighborhood, and of course, friends on the dance floor. He enjoyed spending time with his friends, and his energy never sagged when he was with a friend.
In the third place, Mac knew that "the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time" long before the singer James Taylor recorded that line. So Mac didn't waste his time arguing politics or religion. Yes, he sang in his church choir, and fed the homeless who came to the church basement, but he didn't insist that you join him, or judge you for not. Yes, he worked gain recognition for the accomplishments of gay veterans, but he never lobbied you to join that cause, and never judged you if you found other causes to support. Regrets and rancor were for old people, not to Mac.
Finally, Mac found a way to stay young by giving more than taking. Though not a rich man, Mac loved to surprise friends with unexpected, tiny gifts that he would purchase on his travels around Manhattan and around the world. Did be ever surprise you with a small gift? If he did, it was his way of saying "I was thinking of you" and "I'm glad we are friends."
I hope I have satisfied your curiosity about Mac's age, and 1 hope that I have convinced you that he was younger than I am. Now there is but one question left to ask: "Was Mac McCarthy younger than you?' -- Rick Massi
Our Beloved Late Member of Times Squares, Mac McCarthy
I will miss Mac. We were good friends. We met as members of the founding class of Times Squares and stayed friends for almost 20 years. We would attend opera and concerts at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall several times a year; Sometimes we would just meet for dinner at one of Mac's favorite restaurants. He was always full of news of people we had known over the years. The difference was that I had lost touch with many of them, but Mac managed 1o continue relationships with square dancers who may have been in the club from, say 1988 to 1990. We would sometimes run into there at concerts and he would be instantly recalled; I tended to "look familiar."
Mac was upbeat and cheerful most every time I saw him. He had many, many friends from all the different areas of his life and was rarely without a smile.
Certainly Tunes Squares was a group he was very devoted to, serving on the Board for seven years, 1989 to 1991 and 1998 to 2000. When he was not serving on the Board, he continued to volunteer at special events and to help the Club in other ways. Not inconsiderably, he showed up for dances week in and week out year after year, longer than any other member.
Mac also started the practice of recognizing outstanding members through annual awards, later called Mackies, as well as annual talent shows (where his own singing was enjoyed) that were part of the early fundraising for Peel the Apple, the convention the Club hosted in 1989. He would have been the only Times Square to have received a 20-year medallion at this year's convention in Phoenix.
Mac had a show business career early in his life, and he stayed in touch with people from that time. When the two of us went on a trip to Victoria after the first Vancouver Convention, we had dinner with his fellow singer. Mac was Bill to her. I met his sister and niece recently at Roosevelt Hospital; to his family he was Sonny.
- Times Squared newsletter, v.19 no.9 (August 2004) p.1
- Ibid., p.4
- Ibid., p.5