HAVERHILL — He served as the New York state campaign manager for John F. Kennedy, raised big money for the Democratic party and was considered the man to see for political advice. He also ran two funeral homes in the city.
When John Linnehan died in March after the onset of a sudden illness, the future of the business his father had founded was in question.
Yesterday, a lifelong Beverly resident and funeral home director who did work for Linnehan for years said he hopes to take over the business and maintain its high standards of service to the community.
Kevin Grondin, 55, owner of the Grondin Funeral Home in Beverly and the Pike-Grondin Funeral Home in Gloucester, said he has signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the Linnehan funeral homes located on Kenoza Avenue and Salem Street.
"We have not closed (on the deal) yet, but I expect this will happen within the next few weeks," Grondin said.
Linnehan's family members could not be reached for comment on Grondin's planned move into Haverhill.
If the sale goes through, Grondin said he plans to rename the business the Linnehan-Grondin Funeral Homes. He did something similar in 1992 when he bought the Pike Funeral Home in Gloucester and renamed it the Pike-Grondin Funeral Home.
"If John was still alive, I would not even think of changing the name," Grondin said.
In addition to helping Kennedy win the presidency, Linnehan also served as the New England regional commissioner under his administration and was a high-ranking official in the Small Business Administration under President Lyndon Johnson.
Linnehan's Democratic ties remained strong in the 48 years since Kennedy's presidential victory, even after Linnehan returned to his hometown of Haverhill in 1973 to take over the family business after his father, Frank Linnehan, died.
Grondin said he hopes to retain some part-time and full-time staff members who worked for Linnehan for years.
Haverhill is not an unfamiliar place to Grondin. As well as having worked as an embalmer for Linnehan from the late 1980s to just a few years ago, he regularly utilizes the services of the Linwood Crematorium on John Ward Avenue.
"We are one of their biggest customers," Grondin said.
Clients who prepaid for funeral arrangements with Linnehan have, by state law, the option of keeping those arrangements in place with any new owner or transferring to another funeral home. They also have to be notified of any change in ownership.
Grondin said he plans to give the best service possible to the families he hopes to serve in Haverhill and does not expect any prepaid clients to be looking elsewhere.
"I think if people were going to leave they would have already," he said.
Grondin and his wife, Patricia, have an 18-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.
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