After 34 Years, Bo Hickey To Retire As Lakeview Cemetery Superintendent


Bo Hickey has connected with generations of locals through the different hats he’s worn in New Canaan, perhaps most visibly as a coach in the high school football program and of the varsity hockey team—seeing many of the town’s best athletes achieve excellence in some of their most memorable, dramatic moments.

Bo Hickey on the grounds of the 41-acre Lakeview Cemetery, where he's been superintendent for 34 years and will retire at month's end. Credit: Michael Dinan

Bo Hickey on the grounds of the 41-acre Lakeview Cemetery, where he’s been superintendent for 34 years and will retire at month’s end. Credit: Michael Dinan

Yet for many local families, Hickey may have played his most important role during their most difficult times, in his work since August of 1981 as superintendent of the pond-dotted, green and rolling Lakeview Cemetery.

“My job is to make sure, first of all, that the grounds are in decent order, selling property, interring people, and just the upkeep of the cemetery itself,” Hickey said Monday afternoon from the small office at 352 Main St., just over the wooden bridge that spans the Fivemile River inside the cemetery’s gates. “There is 40 acres here. So it’s a large piece of property.”

And a large responsibility.

Site of funerals and daily visits from loved ones as well as New Canaan’s solemn, well-attended annual Memorial Day service, Lakeview Cemetery is final resting place to many prominent residents, to locals who died young and to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces—through efforts led each year by VFW Post 653, flags are placed on their gravestones on Memorial Day, and wreaths on Veterans Day.

At the end of this month, Hickey will hand over the job of superintendent to a successor (New Canaan’s Peter Passaro—said Hickey: “My successor will be fine, he worked with me for five years”).

Asked what brought on his decision to retire now, Hickey said in characteristically to-the-point language: “Beside I’m 70 years old? Just time to go.”

Chris Hussey, president of the cemetery board, said Hickey possesses the rare and right combination of qualities to do a difficult job well.

“I think he has done a great job. I think he has been the perfect person for the job,” Hussey said.

“He’s a very quiet man but he has great compassion. He has been through some very, very difficult times over the years with many families—not that any death is easy, but he has had some very bad times, very tough to take. He handles himself with such class—and he would hit me over head if he ever heard me say this. When you go down there to Lakeview or any cemetery you are either burying somebody you love or couldn’t stand, but it’s a very intense emotion and a difficult time. The man is unflappable. A lot of people who are unflappable are also cool. He is not. He has compassion.”

Hussey added that the board was “very fortunate” to have found Pete Passaro.

“He’s very nice and has very good people skills—I think that is critical,” she said.

So is genuine modesty, Hussey said—a quality that Hickey possesses.

“He will say to you, ‘I had a job to do and I did it,’ ” she said. “But there is so much more to it than that. I think that by far greater majority of families that have dealt with him will tell you that. And it didn’t matter—Friday night, Saturday, late Sunday—there was no time you would get ‘Sorry, we are not available’—I don’t think that ever happened to anyone. As I told him, it was not a job for Bo, it was a vocation, a true commitment to people and the understanding that this is a terrible time they are going through. He’s a special person. A very special person.”

Hickey said he will remain in New Canaan “for a good portion of the year.”

“But I’ve had enough of winters,” he said.

Hickey is one of a staff of four that operates the Lakeview Cemetery, and he reports to the nonprofit New Canaan Cemetery Association’s Board of Directors. The model is typical for cemeteries in the area, he said, whereby an association controls the cemetery (other than diocesan). The board meets quarterly and “I am supposed to handle all the issues between the meetings and report back to the board,” Hickey said.

Last year, in a problem that appears to have abated somewhat, an issue emerged whereby off-leash dogs were entering the cemetery with their owners and leaving the animals’ waste behind.

“Things like that are annoying,” Hickey said.

Individuals seeking to purchase a plot for interment at Lakeview Cemetery go through the same municipal process as they would in acquiring any real property, where a transfer is recorded with the office of the Town Clerk—a tradition that has faded in other municipalities, Hickey said.

“It is the last bastion of a cemetery registering land sales in the Town Hall,” he said. “Most Town Halls are too busy to be fooling around with cemeteries.”

A graduate of Stamford Catholic High School (now Trinity Catholic), where he’d been a standout running back, Hickey went on to Maryland, the CFL and a single (and outstanding, four TDs) season with the Denver Broncos before injuries sidelined him. Prior to starting at Lakeview Cemetery, he had worked for nine years as assistant superintendent of Wee Burn Country Club in Darien.

One thought on “After 34 Years, Bo Hickey To Retire As Lakeview Cemetery Superintendent

  1. Great player at SCHS, back in the day. I remember him well. I also remember Pete Passaro from Rippowam High, I played against him.

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