Prominent Boston banker William P. Morrissey of Chestnut Hill and Cataumet died peacefully after a lengthy illness on Thursday (September 26, 2019) surrounded by his family and friends.
He was 91.
Born in Charlestown to Thomas and Johanna (Power) Morrissey, Mr. Morrissey, whose celebrated career in banking spanned 65 years as a top executive with several of Boston’s most well-known banks, was also a notable figure in health care, having served as trustee and board chairman of multiple Boston hospitals and appointed to serve on the National Institute of Health’s Board of Directors by President Ronald Reagan.
His rise to prominence is a classic American story. One of 11 children born to immigrant parents, Mr. Morrissey earned success thanks to the values instilled in him by his family. His community contributions and deep faith that sustained him throughout his life started early as Mr. Morrissey served as an altar boy for the Charlestown State Prison Chaplain where, in addition to his regular Sunday Mass duties, he also assisted the Chaplain in presenting the Last Sacraments to condemned prisoners before their execution.
Mr. Morrissey’s legendary wit and humor first showed itself in grammar school, and his academic prowess earned him entry into the prestigious Boston Latin School. After graduating from Boston Latin, he enrolled at Boston College where he was awarded two academic scholarships, one in history/government and the other in philosophy. Mr. Morrissey completed his bachelor’s degree studies early and was able to graduate three years into the four-year program. From there, he earned a master’s degree from Brown University, graduating with honors.
To fulfill his military obligation, he joined the Army Reserves serving with the 305th Military Government Group.
Mr. Morrissey began his banking career working as an examiner with the Massachusetts Division of Banks. He rapidly rose through the ranks and was appointed the deputy commissioner of the Department of Banks by Massachusetts Governor Endicott Peabody and Commissioner of Banks and former Boston Mayor John B. Hynes.
After a decade as the chief operating officer the State’s banking department, he went to work at the Atlantic Savings Bank in Revere. After a short stint there, Mr. Morrissey returned to Boston to take the job as Senior Vice President, and later as Executive Vice President, at the Boston Five Cent Savings Bank, working alongside the bank’s President Robert Spiller.
At that time, the Boston Five was the primary residential mortgage lender in Greater Boston. At a celebration of Mr. Morrissey’s career in banking, the program noted that “every credit-worthy borrower seeking a mortgage loan first checked in the Spiller’s Boston Five. It was also said that every not-so-credit-worthy borrower with a sad story would eventually find their way to Morrissey’s Boston Five. Scores of now successful, solid citizens were able to purchase their first home only because Billy Morrissey listened to their story and took a chance on them.”
In 1991, when Robert Spiller retired, Mr. Morrissey left the Boston Five to join the Central Cooperative Bank in Somerville. He then became president of the bank and stayed on as a consultant when the bank was purchased by Rockland Trust.
Mr. Morrissey served on several industry boards including the Massachusetts Bankers Association. He also served with distinction as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.
As a knowledgeable leader in banking, his counsel had been sought for decades by fellow bankers, journalists, industry trade associations, regulators and legislators – not just on matters related to banking but on a variety of issues of wider social and political significance.
In addition to his career in banking, Mr. Morrissey was an active contributor to civic life. He served several terms as Chairman of Health and Hospitals for the City of Boston; Chairman of Boston City Hospital; Trustee with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Foundation; Trustee and Chairman of the Finance Committee at St. Margaret’s Hospital; member of the Tuft’s Council on Associated Hospitals; and President of the Visiting Nurses Association of Boston. He was also an active member of Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board; the Greater Boston Tourist and Convention Bureau; the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Cable Television for the City of Boston; the Massachusetts Business Roundtable; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation; Boston Athletic Association; the Beacon Society; and he served as a past President of the Clover Club of Boston.
Mr. Morrissey, who was a Knight of Malta, was noted for his humanitarian work and charitable affiliations, which included the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; the Boston Council Boy Scouts of America; Horizons for Youth; the Charitable Irish Society; Charlestown Schoolboy’s Association; and McLaughlin House of Charlestown, a transition house for women in recovery. Mr. Morrissey helped to raise millions of dollars for the Catholic Church to aid in mission delivery as he continuously strived to walk the path of Christ.
Though his professional and civic achievements are considerable, his most impressive accomplishment was his devotion to his wife and seven children.
He is survived by his wife of close to 58 years Donna (Cosgrove) Morrissey as well as his children: Francis and Lisa (Fahey) Morrissey of Milton, Massachusetts; William Jr. and Jennifer (Davis) Morrissey of La Jolla, California; John and Katherine (Costello) Morrissey of Hingham, Massachusetts; Donna M. Morrissey of Newton and Brewster, Massachusetts; Meghan Morrissey of Brighton, Massachusetts; and his beloved Johanna and Caitlin Morrissey of Brookline, Massachusetts as well as six grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
His late siblings include: Thomas Morrissey, John Morrissey, The Honorable Francis X. Morrissey, Mary Hawes, Gertrude Morrissey, Edward Morrissey, Sister Rita Morrissey C.S.J., Helen McMillian, Dorothy MacGillivray and Joan Morrissey.
Family and friends are invited to join Mr. Morrissey’s family at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross located at 1400 Washington Street, Boston Massachusetts, 02118 on Thursday, October 3, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm for his wake and October 4, at 10:00 am for his Rite of Christian Burial.
Donations may be made in remembrance of Mr. Morrissey to the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club of Boston 15 Green Street Charlestown, MA 02129
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