Fiercely proud of his Polish heritage, his college athletic career as a two-way, two-year starter for the Holy Cross football team, his military service as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Marines, his profession as a well-respected executive in the spirits industry, his long-time involvement as a member at Wollaston Golf Club, his 62-year marriage to his beloved wife, Barbara, his devotion as a father and provider to his four children, and of the adoration of his eight grandchildren, Bernard John Taracevicz passed away on March 13, 2021, peacefully at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, surrounded by family, after he was stricken by cardiac arrest. He was 86 years old.
Born in Cambridge, Mass., on June 16, 1934, the youngest of five children to immigrant parents from Poland, Fabian Sr. and Katarzyna (Smiarkowska) Taracevicz, Bernie was raised in Malden, Mass. He was eight years old when his mother died of bone cancer in 1943, leaving him to be raised by his three sisters — Edna, Adele and Joann, the oldest two of whom were married shortly thereafter – and the generosity of the mothers of his boyhood chums who kept him well fed and clothed.
Bernie attended Malden Catholic High, where he captained the Lancers football team, played basketball and ran track. It was the springboard to a college education at Holy Cross, where he received a football scholarship to play for the Crusaders as an offensive lineman and linebacker. Bernie graduated in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.
After his college graduation, Bernie, who had trained three previous summers in the Marines Platoon Leaders Class, went to Officer Training School in Quantico, Va., where he also played football for the Quantico Marines before his honorable discharge in 1958.
Bernie met Barbara during his senior year in high school, rekindled their friendship while he was home for the holidays from college and she was working as a clerk at the US Post Office in Malden. Their relationship later blossomed into a romance that led to their marriage in 1959.
Bernie put his polished social skills, keen business intellect, and gregarious personality to work in the spirits industry, rising up the ranks of the Seagram’s organization in the 1960s-70s from a merchandising representative in Massachusetts, to assistant state manager in Western New York, to Connecticut state manager of the company’s Eastern Division, forging countless lasting friendships and valuable business contacts along the way.
Although he later retired from the spirits industry, Bernie kept his hand in the business, developing with his late partner, Jack Buckley, a formula for “an uncommonly thick” Bloody Mary mix they took to market as the cleverly-named, “Jack and Bernie’s Bloody Mary Mix,” which can be found to this day on supermarket shelves.
Bernie was one of the more beloved members at Wollaston Golf Club in Milton, where he enjoyed summer rounds of golf with his dear friends, delighting in astonishing opponents with “Bernie Pars,’’ fashioned from impossibly unsalvageable long-distance putts or improbable par-saving chips from the rough. Of the 19th hole, though, Bernie was the undisputed champion, where his legion of admirers at the club often gravitated to his magnetic personality.
Off the course, Bernie was an avid devotee of Boston professional and college sports. He devoured newspapers, magazines and books and was a voracious reader of historical biographies, spy novels, and thrillers. He loved to watch “Jeopardy,” often with a Manhattan bourbon cocktail, and beat his chest when he solved the answer to the Final Jeopardy question.
He and Barbara loved — and lived — to entertain guests for dinner at their lovely home in Milton, Mass., where good spirits where often shared as well as imbibed and a good meal was always enjoyed by all. Their hospitality was the touchstone of every memorable family gathering during the holidays, a roundup which he always marked with a solemn prayer at the start of proceedings.
Bernie, who was a parishioner at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Milton, was predeceased by a 5-year-old brother, Fabian Jr., in 1929, his mother in 1943, his father in 1969, his sisters Adele (Neumyer) in 1998, and Joann (O’Brien) in 2018, with his eldest sister, Edna (Carroll), the sole surviving sibling at 99 years old.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara (Lauro), of Milton, their four children (and spouses): Deirdre Taracevicz-Berg (Robert) of Milton; Steven Taracevicz of Jupiter, Fla,; Barbara Vega (Michael) of Milton; Bernard Taracevicz Jr., of San Francisco, Calif; and eight grandchildren: Trent and Ava Berg, of Milton; Victor Taracevicz, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., James Taracevicz, of Los Angeles, Calif., Misha and Luca Taracevicz, of Basel, Switzerland; Natalia and Noel Vega, of Milton.
Visitation will be Thursday, March 25, from 4-8 p.m. at Dolan Funeral Home, 460 Granite Avenue, EAST MILTON SQUARE; Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, March 26, at 10:30 a.m., St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, 350 Reedsdale Road, Milton, Mass.
In lieu of flowers, Memorial donations can be made to Malden Catholic High School, 99 Crystal Street, Malden, MA 02148.