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Former Malden High School Asst. Principal Passes Away

Brendan Duffy, aka "Mr. Duff," was known as a no-nonsense, "old school" educator with a passion for his students.

Update: A wake will be held from 3-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 at Spadafora Funeral Home. 

Original story: Long-time former Malden High School teacher and assistant principal Brendan Duffy, aka "Mr. Duff," passed away, the city's Facebook account announced late Wednesday afternoon:

"Generations of Malden High School students remember Mr. Duffy as a tough but fair teacher who demanded hard work and dedication and in return he earned their respect," the post reads.

"After hanging up his ‘walkie-talkie’ as Assistant Principal, Mr. Duffy served as the Educational Liaison to Mayor Howard where he helped the school system acclimate to the MCAS exam.

Today, his legacy lives on through his son Kevin who serves as the City’s Strategy & Business Development Officer in his Dad’s former office. Our condolences are with the entire Duffy Family at this time as we share in their sadness at the loss of this great man."

A number of former students have taken to social media to share their memories of the teaching veteran, with many noting the personal touch Duffy brought to the position. 

"He was the best!" Terri Gilligan wrote. "He was always there for us, always ready to listen when we needed him... You changed the lives for many of us, Mr Duffy and some of us would not be the people we are today if we had not had you in our lives- you will be missed."

"(I) had a bad moment one night in the early 90s when life seemed unbearable and i thought there was only one way out!," Clark Heighton wrote. "Mr. Duffy spent many hours on the phone with me that night convincing me that life was grand. For that i owe him my life. Thanks for all you did for me. Godspeed to you!"

"He was the cool guy," Mary Fougere-Broomstein wrote. "My heart is heavy."

"I loved this man," Patty Pontbriand Greene wrote. "He was a real man who was strong when the circumstance required it but kind and gentle to those who needed it. I looked up to him as a great male role model for all the young men passing through MHS. God bless you Mr. Duffy. Rest in peace."

Readers can share memories or leave a memorial message in our comment section, or upload pictures onto our memorial gallery. 

full metal jacket September 06, 2012 at 01:41 AM
solid as they got not my teacher or principal ever but a neighborhood guy I loved...when we were kids he had the best fireworks show up on Glen St. he will be missed. All my friends always said Duff was tough but fair and they were no B.S. types of guys back in the 80's at M.H.S. The kingdom of God awaits people like this Godspeed to you sir....
lori meady September 06, 2012 at 01:45 AM
My sincerest condolences to all Mr. D's family, friends and former students. My heart is so sad right now. There are truly no words to describe this beautiful man. I had seen him recently while my son was at Kungfu with his grandson. It was like no time had passed.. He even asked about my mom and dad which we're students of his too.. As we talked and he still gave me advice, he proudly watched over his grandson. You will sooooo be missed Mr. D
Christine Mader September 06, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Diligent as a drill sargent with such a true underlying compassion for his students.Tough love. He was tough when he needed to be and to those that needed it. He was soft when he needed to be and to those that needed it as well. And because of this he earned the respect he so deserved. For this you shall be remembered and for all the lives you've touched throughout the years.
Carol J. Merletti September 06, 2012 at 02:04 AM
RIP Mr. Duffy! You will be missed! I have fond memories of you during high school! You believed in me, and I earned your respect. For that, I am forever grateful. My sincerest condolences to your family. Speaking of Mr. Duffy, the last time that I had the honor of seeing him, since graduating from Malden High, was at the open house last year for the newly renovated Malden High School auditorium. My family was there as a surprise for our mom, who believed that there was “one” new chair in the auditorium, with the names of all twelve of her children, who had graduated from Malden High on it. She was also excited to see Joey Voices entertain that night, but her night was only to get better! Little did Mom know, but an anonymous donor had purchased twelve seats together for her children, all in a row, for my brothers and sisters, with our names on them, as well as the year that we each graduated from Malden High. When Mom entered the auditorium, she burst into tears! She was so damn proud! And when she saw Mr. Duffy, she was beaming, and couldn’t wait to show off the chairs to him! We all talked about how little he had changed. It was so special to see him that night! It made our night all the better, as he was a huge part of my family’s life, not to mention, his hands were full!
Melissa Buckley-Bodvar September 06, 2012 at 02:14 AM
My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Duffy's family. I am so sorry to hear of your huge loss.I had the honor of having him a few years back at BHCC. There truly are not enough words to describe what a remarkable teacher, man, and friend he was to all ! He will truly be missed by all who were privileged enough to know him! May He Rest In Peace
Anna Molano September 06, 2012 at 02:18 AM
My thoughts and prayers to Mr.Duffy's family. He helped many through high school found me my first job when no jobs could be found. I worked in his office at the high school and even surprised me with yellow roses at graduation. When i happen to see Mr. Duffy and his beautiful wife Elaine some 20 years later when he moved to Tewksbury he remember me right away told me he was proud of the person and mom i became. He knew how to make a person feel valued and what better gift can a teacher and principal have. Everytime i would happen to see him in town after that he had a hug a smile a kind word alittle advise. There will never be another Mr. Duffy. I am sure he is with the angels smiling at all of us still seeing the best in us and still always proud. you will be missed more than you can imagine,
ken September 06, 2012 at 02:22 AM
God I loved that grumpy old gus.
Mr Iamnottheteacher September 06, 2012 at 02:28 AM
He was nice. Many kids looked up to him because he was taller. God bless him.
Gina Whitmore September 06, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Mr. Duff you will be missed by all of us. It's been quite a long time since I last saw you but I will never forget you and all the help you have me when I needed it most R.I.P Mr. Duffy
George Lyons September 06, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Condolences to the Duffy Family; Mr. Jim Duffy will always be remembered by the thousands of students he impacted with his sage guidance and sincere concern for their well being and success. The world needs more men like Jim Duffy; I am happy to have known him and his always vibrant persona. He lives on through his children, grandchildren and the good works that he perpetuated during his time on this Earth. Till we meet again, Mr. Duffy.
Melissa Potter September 06, 2012 at 03:59 AM
mr duffy was always there for people who needed someone to talk or someone that would listen to u when u had a problem. he will be missed rip mr duffy
Joseph DiGiovanni (Roach) September 06, 2012 at 11:56 AM
As many have said here mr. Duffy dished out a particular brand of tough love. He knew that he affected his students in a positive way, and he loved what he did. Even long after I graduated showed that he would kick my butt if I didn't smarten up. Mr Duffy was just about the only person in the entire school system that spoke to you like a real person and not as an authority figure. Finally able to rest. Like many of your students,I love you mr. Duffy. See you on the other side.
Rachelle September 06, 2012 at 12:00 PM
We did not know Mr. Duffy but we will include him & his family in our daily prayers ~ God bless The Nash family
Scott September 06, 2012 at 12:38 PM
I remember one day during my Sophmore or Junior year a couple of kids from Medford High School came in during lunch and started a fight with kids in the cafeteria. As the two from Medford were trying to flee down the hall by the main office, Mr Duffy was coming from an adjorning hallway, and stepped out in front of them. While they were in full stride Mr. Duffy grabbed each of them on the way by, on in each hand by the throat and pinned them both against the wall across from the office. It was awesome. I'll never forget the look on the two kids faces. Tought those Meffa punks a lesson.....LOL. Rest easy Mr. Duffy, rest easy sir.
Kathleen Nylin September 06, 2012 at 12:42 PM
A class act! A good man who believed in all his students, no matter the circumstance. He changed the path of so many young men and women ...Malden and the world is a better place because of him. It was an honor to know him! Kathleen Nylin
Love Strong September 06, 2012 at 01:21 PM
My Condolenses To The Family Of Mr Duffy.... If it wasnt for Mr Duffy I would have never made it through high school.. Mr D you were just an inspiration in my life as well as many others. From the day I started high school you were my angel and will forever be... I love you Buddy..... RIP with all the other angels <3
Ariann Nice September 06, 2012 at 01:36 PM
My thoughts and prayers are with the Duffy family! Mr Duffy was a wonderful man, whom I will be forever grateful to. He taught me alot about respect and now today at the age of 36 I find myself teaching my sons the same lesson he taught me. " You don't have to love or like everyone, but everyone deserves respect". I respected Mr Duffy and I had the privelage of working in his office and making the Senior announcements every morning. I still remember the first time I had to give an announcement I was so nervous and Duffy took my hand and said Ariann just look at me and speak into the intercom you'll do fine, and I did! He truly was and will always be my inspiration!
patricia cummisky thurlow September 06, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I was suppose to graduate with the class of 89 but dropped out 3 weeks into my senior year beause I became pregeant had my daughter a week after the senior class graduated MR DUFFY seen me a about a month later. He then informed me I will be in school the first day the senior class starts back. I then told him I would try because I have my daughter, He then told me I can bring her to school with me. I then stated I will be there I was there he allowed me to bring her in every day and to every class. I had study the last 2 periods so he told me to go home do home work and take care of my daughter I graduated may 30 1990 because of MR DUFFY I use to tell my kids all the time about MR. DUFFY and what he did for me I used what he told about school on my kids I AM VERY HONORED TO STATE MR DUFFY WAS A FRIEND AND MOST OF ALL I AM PLEASE AND HONORED TO STATE MT DUFFY WAS LIKE A FATHER TO SOME OF US WHOM DID NOT THEIR FATHERS AROUND AT THE TIME I KNOW BECAUSE I AM ONE OF THOSE KIDS THANK YOU MR DUFFY FOR BEING THE MAN YOU WHERE YOU WILL BE GREATLY MISSED R.I.P.
Malden Resident September 06, 2012 at 02:00 PM
My thoughts & prayers are with Mr. Duffy's family. He wasn't my assistant principal, but I remember him from my own days walking the halls of MHS. He was a tough disciplinarian, but fair and caring. Some may not have approved of his ways while they were in HS, but looking back, I'll bet they see that he was right all along. Rest in peace, sir, you deserve it. And thank you for all that you did for Malden over the years. God bless you.
Rich Giannattasio September 06, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I extend my deepest condolences to the Duffy family. Elaine was the love of his life and always his calming influence - and I am sure he was forever grateful. His son Marco married into our family and is one of the finest men I know. Kevin is active in the Malden community and is Jim’s lasting legacy in Malden. Jim was a very big part of my life - from our time together at the Malden YMCA and Camp Madaca to Malden High School and beyond. Over the past years I thought of Jim often and I know that he and I had a bond that will never be broken. He touched and influenced many lives. He was loved and he will be missed. Rich Giannattasio ‘72
Roberta Bickford September 06, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Mr. Duffy was a class act. No nonsense man. He was a gentle giant. You feared him, but also knew he could be counted on. He was FAIR, he was CARING, he was DEVOTED, and he was a MENTOR to so many. When I learned that Duff was sick, I reached out to fellow classmates and friends and asked them to send their well wishes, or share a story or two, and the response was amazing! True testament to the character of this man. I am so thankful to have had the pleasure of knowing him and being under his watch for my 4 years at MHS. He did more for me than he'll ever know. He impacted my life while a student, and it continued into my adult life. I'm so glad that I got to see him in June and give him a book of all those letters/emails I received, and to thank him personally for everything he did for me. He was one in a million and will never be forgotten!!! Love you always Duff!
JM September 06, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Very sad loss...he was a tough cookie, couldn't get away with anything. Boy did I try though!! The last time I saw him was in Tewksbury and I was with my son, and he commented on how "military" he looked, and I said if you only knew!!! Mr. Duffy, you will be missed!
fred September 06, 2012 at 04:31 PM
If you messed up, you were in detention outside his office. After sitting there for 1 hour, we all headed to the girls gym for some street hockey. Depending on why you where in detention, the harder he hit you. It was his way of showing you consequenses. You knew it was coming, but you knew it was deserved. He was all about life lessons.
Karyn Lockhart September 06, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I would like to send my condolences to the Duffy family. Mr. Duffy was one in a million. He was tough when he had to be, but a great listener to those who were having problems. I graduated from Malden High in 1975 and I will always remember him saying hello to me every morning and asking how my day was going. He was a mentor to all of us. Mr. Duffy I will miss you. Thank you for being there for all of us. You are and will always be an inspiration to all that knew you.
Dan Avallone September 06, 2012 at 05:19 PM
My thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the Duffy family. Mr. Duffy…The world is a much sadder place today without you here. Rest in peace, and save me a place on the other side. I can’t possibly add anymore to the already eloquent accolades that have been expressed of the man in all of the preceding comments. They are spot-on! Mr. Duff will always have a place in my heart. As like most others have commented he had a profound effect on me personally as a student (1976), and with the good fortune to have him as part of my extended family. Marco and I were friends growing up and are still today. He married into my wife’s family so I, unlike most students have had more of an opportunity to see Mr. Duff, however today in hindsight; it was far less than what I would have liked. Tough, honest, sincere and compassionate, are all exacting adjectives to describe him, yet he was so much more. He had the ability when you spoke with him, to make you feel special, because he remembered you. With so many students, for so many years that is truly incredible. Even when he was ailing, and my daughter got to spend time with him, she commented on how great the experience was…….because he made her feel special! Goodbye dear friend and gentle man.
cornucopia foods September 06, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Talk about character!!!!! It's ashame that generation of upstanding human beings are being lost every day. We can thank those like mr Duffy for all the good things we have in this country today. I hope for every mr Duffy we lose there is another born on the same day. God I hope there are more mr duffy's out there!!!.
Bill Bowdridge September 06, 2012 at 09:39 PM
First let me say how sorry i am to have been told of this news,,, my condolances to Mr Duffs family.. As a grad student class of 1976,, i credit the person i've become thanks to Mr Duffy... till we meet again dear friend,,, always Bill Bowdridge
Maria September 07, 2012 at 12:45 AM
You will be missed Mr. Duffy and R.I.P. MY condolances to Mr. Duffy 's Family ..... I really enjoyed having him as my assistant principle Class of 86 great guy with lots of smiles ............. R.I.P. you will be missed , but will never be forgotten ....... Malden HIgh School Class of " 86 "
brendan l September 07, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Words can not express my heartfelt agnst I feel for the Duffy family's loss. Thank you for sharing him with us all over the years! I've heard stories from my older siblings of how tough he could be during the 80's when his students went astray. what a sense of humor he had buying an alarm clock for my brother who was always late. I personally was blessed to meet a legend 15 years later toward the end of his career. As a musician I still hold in my heart a compliment he gave me almost 16 years ago. When Mr. Duffy spoke it had meaning. The world is a better place for having him amongst it. Go with god my friend and receive the rewards in heaven you rightfully deserve for all those who's hearts you touched while here!
Richard A Boucher September 12, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Richard Boucher Malden High has suffered a great loss with Mr Duffy, I believe he tried to instill in all of us the true meaning of being an adult. Spent many days in his office, many days of hockey in the girls gym in the old school, but most of all he was always there for the students of MHS Blue and Gold, We will miss you very much but you did leave a lasting inmpression, Class of 1971

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