Paul C. Canniff
September 16, 2016

Sign Guestbook View Guestbook

  Paul C. Canniff, a retired Electrical Engineer, passed away peacefully on Friday night, September 16, 2016. He approached his passing as he lived his life, with a strong faith and on his terms. He was 83 years old.

Paul was born in Medford, one of five children born to John and Madeline Canniff. He grew up in Somerville and was a 1950 graduate of St. Clement’s High School, where he played football and hockey. He was a veteran who served in the Army during the Korean War. Paul was a member of the 746th Engineer Co., a recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and a lifetime member of the DAV. After his military service, he went to Northeastern University where he earned his degree in Electrical Engineering. He went to work at New England Gas and Electric “NEGEA” as an electrical engineer where he remained for 33 years. He worked on designing and maintaining power stations and the distribution networks around New England. Paul was well versed in his field and represented the company at numerous conferences throughout the United States. After his retirement, to keep sharp he worked for H & R Block as a tax preparer and at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home. He worked well into his late 70’s.

Paul had a wide variety of interests over the years. He coached and volunteered for Burlington Pop Warner Football. He was an avid sailor. He made numerous trips to the British Virgin Islands with his cousin Jack and the crew, where they would bareboat charter a 50 foot plus sailboat and cruise the islands harboring at different port cities. It was always an adventure, testing their seamanship skills and creating many memorable experiences. Paul took up skiing in his 60’s. His ski buddies, Jack O’Keefe, Carl Humphries, and his brother, Fr. Jim, skied together well into their 70’s. Paul had a great interest in world events, the stock market, politics, and taxes. He was extremely well versed in all and would happily debate his opinions, views, and theories with anyone willing to take on his challenge. He was a huge sports fan. He followed high school, college, and professional sports teams and was a fan at all sporting events of his children and grandchildren. He and his wife, Marge, traveled all over the world visiting Russia, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, the Caribbean, Alaska and Hawaii. They especially enjoyed seeing these destinations via cruise ships. Paul was a longtime member of the Burlington Swim and Tennis Club. He was a faithful parishioner of St. Margaret’s Church and an usher for decades at the Saturday 4:30 Mass. Paul was also a good friend to many, whether it was lending a hand in a home project, shoveling snow, or giving “advice”. Paul was a man of simple needs. A good meal and a healthy debate were all he needed. There were so many traits and characteristics that made Paul unique including: his passion. Being a bit strong willed, Paul loved to have everyone see things his way, he could talk knowledgeably about almost anything, and was fanatical about being on time. Behind his strong façade, Paul was someone who was extremely loyal and loving.

Paul was the devoted husband of 54 years of Marjorie “Marge” A. (Leary) Canniff. He was the loving father of Patricia Forte of Avon Lake, OH, Carol Doherty of Woburn, Thomas Canniff of N. Billerica, and Joan Kelly & her husband Aaron Kelly of Bedford. He was the brother of Marie Canniff of S. Yarmouth, Rev. James B. Canniff of Malden, the late John “Jack” Canniff and Ann “Nancy” Plummer. He was the proud grandfather of Patrick & Matthew Forte, Kevin, Kelly & Prince Doherty, Brian & Peter Canniff, and Aidan & Aislyn Kelly. He was the father-in-law of Patrick Doherty. Paul was also survived by many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Funeral from the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Thursday, September 22 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Margaret’s Church, 111 Winn St., Burlington at 10 a.m. Visiting hours Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. Interment in Oak Grove Cemetery, Medford. Memorials in Paul’s name may be made to People Helping People, P.O. Box 343, Burlington, MA 01803.

Eulogy read by Paul’s daughter Patricia

Thank you all for coming. My mom and all of us appreciate your love and support and we are humbled by the many people who have come to pay their respects. Thank you to Fr. Silva for his assistance as well as to Fr. Jim and the visiting clergy for their kindness during this time.

Our Dad was a man of many traits. He had a deep faith in God, was a pillar of strength during any situation, and a faithful, loyal husband, father and friend. He was a “good guy”. There are so many stories I could tell about him, but I think this one tale best sums up who he truly was.

On Saturday morning, a year ago, during your incredibly snowy winter, I called to say hello. After the usual pleasantries and update from Dad on the weather, I asked what was new. There was a bit of a pause as neither mom or dad said a word, then, mom said “Well, let me tell you about our day”.

She had an appointment early that morning and was getting herself ready to go out. Dad was puttering around and went outside to get the morning paper. He came back in saying he couldn’t find it. A conversation about the paper began, and my mom assured him she would pick up a paper on her way home back home. However, that wasn’t a good enough. That paper had to be somewhere so Dad went back outside and took another look around. He found it, at the bottom of the porch, next to the house, tucked down in the snow. No reason to buy a paper when a perfectly good one was sitting there, how to get it now became his challenge. He knew there must be a way. Back inside he went, told my mom he found it and thought maybe he could go down cellar and reach through the window and pull it in. That didn’t work. Back upstairs, once again, mom told him she would pick up a paper and not to worry about it. No- he was bound and determined at this point. Dressed only in his white t-shirt, plaid flannel pants, cardigan sweater and slippers he went outside into the frigid air. This time armed with his handy grabber, He figured he could reach down and pluck up the paper. Well, you guessed it. Head over heels he toppled over the railing and into the snow. Mom heard a loud crash and came running outside, fully expecting to see the porch railing in pieces. As she looked around everything seemed normal, but no Dad. Then she heard “Marge, I’m down here”, there he lay flat on his back, legs high in the air, stuck in a snowbank and hidden from view.

The rescue squad was called and came running up the stairs. As they were about the ring the doorbell they hear, “I’m down here”. After much discussion and work freeing him, they nearly had him out when he made them stop- so he could grab the paper. After all, that was what he came outside to do! Out he came, covered in snow, freezing cold with the thin Saturday Boston Globe safely clutched in his hand.

The firemen, working hard to control their laughter, checked him out and strongly urged that he go to the hospital just to be safe. He declined he was fine! My mom turned to one of the rescuers, who has known the family for a long time, and asked that he explain Dad to the other rescuers on the way back to the station. He chuckled and said “Oh I told them about him on our way here!”

Why is this Dad? Well first off, he wanted that paper! Let’s face it, he might miss something very important in the 10 pages of print! He wanted to stay informed about everything and would share his knowledge, and opinion, with anyone. Secondly, he was fiercely independent. Bound and determined he was going to accomplish what he set out to do. He didn’t take no for an answer once he got an idea in his head. His way may not have made sense and may not have been the easiest or most logical route, but he always succeeded once he put his mind to a task. Dad didn’t like to ask for help himself, but was always there whenever anyone else needed assistance. Day or night you could always count on him to listen and help guide you. He would give the white t shirt off his back if need be. My mom once described him as a rock. Solid and predictable, you knew what you were getting with him, whether it was his views on politics, sports, life, or taxes.

Now he’s in heaven watching the clock and making sure we are running on schedule. He’s telling me to wrap it up because we’ve got to keep things moving. In true Paul fashion, he is anxious to get going. And even though he’s not with us now, he still has people to see and places to go. He was never late for anything and the man upstairs is waiting to welcome him home.
  Print Page