Retired Gloucester Assistant Superintendent who dedicated his life to helping others

Published November 29, 2018

GLOUCESTER — Brian C. Tarr, 67, of Gloucester, passed away peacefully in the early morning of Sunday, November 18, at Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. 

Born to Edward and Christine (Taliadoros) Tarr on March 31, 1951 at Beverly Hospital, Brian was a member of a close and very active family centered around the farm on Essex Avenue that was established by his maternal grandparents when they emigrated from Greece in the early 1900s. There he lived with his parents and his brothers, Brent “Ringo,” and Bruce, and aunts, uncles and other relatives were always present. The large home was filled with warmth and nearly constant activity from family members, and friends visiting from near and far. 

On weekends the farm was a gathering place for lamb roasts that drew members of the Greek community from throughout the North Shore and beyond. In the Christmas season it was filled with Christmas trees for sale, and Brian joined with the rest of the family in helping customers choose and purchase their perfect tree. Through all of these things he developed an enduring love for, and commitment to, his family and friends that would last for his entire life.

Brian attended the Gloucester Public Schools, and his youth was filled with a host of endeavors. He was a student at the Greek School operated by the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, an active participant in Scouting, and achieved leadership roles in the local chapter of Demolay. He also worked at the family business, Tally’s, pumping gas and driving a tow truck from time to time. There he enjoyed meeting, talking to, and befriending customers from all over the city and beyond. They were drawn to his friendly and charismatic personality. Even in his younger years Brian’s path to public service was becoming clear.

That path became even more focused during his high school years. Brian was a leader in student government, and was chosen to be Gloucester’s Mayor on Student Government Day. He was involved in many political campaigns in roles ranging from putting up lawn signs to advising candidates. While he loved politics and campaigns, they were always secondary to helping others.

Brian studied at Bryant and Stratton College, and then went on to graduate with a bachelor of science degree in General Business from Bentley College. He was planning a career in the business sector when a phone call from Fuller School Principal Al Swekla changed his life. Waiting for interviews with employers such as State Street Bank, at Swekla’s request he agreed to serve as a substitute teacher at Fuller. Thus began 33 years of service to the students, parents, teachers, staff, and families of Gloucester. His love for education and helping students was intense and enduring. He became a full time teacher at the Fuller School, then taught at the O’Maley School and became a team leader, and ultimately the Assistant Superintendent of the Gloucester Public School System. For a while Brian also served as Principal of Veterans Memorial School, filling a vacancy and gladly performing both roles. Being Principal gave him the opportunity to be closer to the students, and he cherished that experience. 

He also served for years as the district’s Title 1 Director, making sure all of Gloucester’s students got the services they deserved. Brian also coached the Gloucester High School soccer team when that sport was emerging in school athletics, and he was in charge of the reconstruction of Gloucester High School. In the midst of serving the district he earned a master’s degree in Education from Cambridge College. Yet the title or position never mattered; Brian was happiest and at his best when helping a student or a family. He was respected by colleagues and embraced by students. Stories abound about how his caring approach made a difference in the countless lives he touched, sometimes in groups and sometimes one at a time.

Beyond helping people through the school system, Brian also supported the families of the commercial fishing industry as the President of the Cape Ann Commercial Fishermen’s Loan Fund, a very special revolving lending institution that made funds available for the purchase and improvement of fishing vessels and gear. When difficult times made it hard for fishermen to get the financial resources they needed, Brian was there with a dedicated board of directors to get the facts, understand the problem, and find a way to pay for a new engine, a new winch, or a new boat to keep the family fishing and help the industry survive. Often, his compassion and advice were worth more than the money in a loan.

Although he had many professional obligations, Brian also found time for other things. He loved to play hockey, and was a long time member of the Bass Rocks Golf Club, where he played in many tennis and golf tournaments, carrying on the connection with the club first established by his father. In his years as a young adult Brian was a leader in Gloucester’s Babe Ruth Baseball program. Throughout his life he was a very active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where over the years he served on the vestry and in other leadership positions. He worked in a number of capacities to support Addison Gilbert Hospital, and was a Cape Ann Savings Bank Corporator for many years.

Although his time was generously given to others professionally and personally, Brian’s commitment to his family was unwavering. He was always there to help Ringo with projects like decorating Kent Circle for Christmas, providing wise counsel and assistance to Bruce in his campaigns and service in the legislature, or supporting nieces Elizabeth and Emily in every possible way. His dedication to his mother was unyielding, even as he was in his own struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Brian’s life was a testament to faith, love of family, and the power of a life centered around helping others. 

Caring people helped Brian over the course of his illness, led by his sister-in-law, Cathy. Denise Nicastro provided tremendous professional care, friends Barry McKay, Joe Aiello, Toni Konaxis, and Bob and Debbie Ryan were consistently there to visit, take him out to eat, and remind him that he was a good friend and special person. Aunt Dottie Taliadoros and friends Joanne and Tony Marks were always there to help. All of their efforts and those of the professional staff at Seacoast Nursing and Rehabilitation Center are deeply appreciated. 

Brian is survived by his brother, Brent “Ringo” Tarr and his wife Cathy (Boudreau) of Gloucester; his brother, state Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester; niece, Elizabeth (Tarr) Leung and her husband Mike of Millstone, New Jersey, niece Emily Tarr and partner Jamie Oliver of Gloucester; aunt Dorothy Taliadoros of Gloucester; uncle and aunt, Anthony and Arlene Taliadoros of Essex, and many Tarr and Taliadoros cousins. He was predeceased by his parents, Edward and Christine (Taliadoros) Tarr, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins, including Linda Burns, with whom he was particularly close.

There will be a Prayer Service for Brian on Tuesday, December 4, at 11 a.m. in St. Ann’s Church, with visiting hours also at the church on Monday, December 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. Special parking will be available for the prayer service at the I4 C2 municipal parking lot on Rogers Street, with a trolley shuttle service to and from the church.

Donations in Brian’s memory may be made to the Addison Gilbert Hospital Citizen’s Fund, P.O. Box 1495, Gloucester, MA 01930, Cape Ann Animal Aid Association, 4 Paws Lane, Gloucester, MA 01930, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 48 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA 01930, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Arrangements by the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington Street, Gloucester. For online condolences, please visit