Director of Boston College’s Global Leadership Institute Robert Mauro, who died on Oct. 31 at age 46, strove to strengthen ties between academic leaders in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Boston throughout his career.
But above all, he was a family man, according to his sister-in-law Helen Pyke.
“I think everyone knows the amount of passion and energy and thoughtfulness he put into his work, but I don’t know if people understand that it’s probably tenfold of that that he put into his family,” Pyke said.
When Mauro came to BC in 2011, he joined as director of the Irish Institute—which would later become the Global Leadership Institute. The institute often held conferences and seminars for leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland, fostering conversations surrounding international relations and peace, according to a BC release.
Mike Cronin, the academic director of BC Ireland, interviewed Mauro when he first applied to the University.
“He came across as very professional, very thoughtful, [and] very intelligent,” Cronin said. “He’s somebody who’s very kind of in tune with the kind of political landscape here, and how Ireland works.”
From interviewing political members involved in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 to helping establish the BC Ireland Business Council, Mauro’s career was full of impactful achievements, Cronin said.
“Bob was incredibly professional, incredibly hard working,” he said. “He never sat still. … And I think that was his real strength, just connecting and building across things that interest him.”
Cronin said one of Mauro’s largest strengths was connecting with people and organizations.
“Bob was usually working by himself, but I mean, he was a linchpin for making all those kinds of organizations happen and work,” Cronin said. “[He was] very good at personal connection, very good at keeping up with people and keeping in touch with people.”
Mauro moved quietly and humbly through the academic world, Cronin said, never drawing attention to himself.
“He wasn’t very in-your-face,” Cronin said. “He wasn’t some big flamboyant person, making noise for the sake of making noise. … He had that kind of mannerism, kind of quietly moving through the world, really kind of building on those personal relationships.”
Robert Savage, a BC history professor, worked alongside Mauro within the Irish Studies program.
“He worked really hard,” Savage said. “That’s something that I think should be underscored that he worked really hard to try and see that the University would be understood in Ireland and the U.K. as a place where people could come and speak freely.”
Mauro was especially talented at convening groups of people with different beliefs and perspectives, according to Savage.
“That’s what he was all about—trying to bring people together from, you know, a variety of backgrounds, whether they be unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland or business people here in the U.S.,” he said.
Pyke, whose family is from Ireland, met Mauro almost 23 years ago when he and her sister Barbara started dating. She said he fit into the family immediately.
“We were a pretty rambunctious family, I think, and I remember him coming into the family,” Pyke said. “He definitely settled in pretty quickly and very quickly became a firm part of the family.”
Mauro and Barabara eventually married, and the pair have two daughters, Dara and Tess. From Little League to camping and fishing, Mauro always made sure his daughters had pack-full weekends, according to Pyke.
“As much as he traveled and was working his ass off for the college and for what he was trying to build, he was always there for the girls,” Pyke said. “He was always invested in not only their futures but giving them as much as he could.”
Laura Britto, Mauro’s sister, said that he always put his family first, frequently traveling with his wife and kids and embracing his role as the house “grill master.”
“He succeeded in his academics and made significant contributions to his work, but I’m most proud of him for creating a loving family,” Britto said. “I always knew he would make a wonderful father due to his unwavering involvement and kindness. His love for Dara and Tess was undoubtedly seen through his actions and words.”
Britto said she will always remember the small moments she shared with her brother.
“I will also always remember the small things including – knocking on our adjoining bedroom walls to say goodnight, renting Star Wars on VHS, eating falafel on Thayer Street and listening to They Might Be Giants while he drove us around in an old standard Rabbit,” she wrote.
The impact of Mauro’s work will leave a lasting legacy at BC and beyond, Cronin said.
“Most of us don’t leave a legacy on our work,” Cronin said. “It’s just kind of what we do. Where I think Bob, genuinely … it’s really a legacy [of] what he’s done for Irish relationships—North and South—but also Irish relationships with the U.S., particularly in the Boston area.”
Though he will be remembered by many for his outstanding career achievements, Pyke said his family will also remember him for his light-hearted sense of humor.
“What we knew was much more that he was playful,” Pyke said. “He had one of the best laughs. I can just remember his head in his hands uncontrollably giggling.”