Founder of Urban Edge and JP Organizer Who Helped ‘Stop I-95’, Ron Hafer, Passes Away at 88

The following obituary was provided by Ron Hafer's family:

Founder of Urban Edge, community organizer and activist who helped “Stop I-95”, Ron Hafer passed peacefully on December 27, 2023 at Rogerson House in Jamaica Plain at the age of 88, with his beloved wife of 55 years, Ellen, by his side. Hafer participated in the March to Selma, worked with the Blue Hills Christian Center, created the Community Leadership Center in the mid-1960’s, helped develop the Ecumenical Social Action Committee (ESAC), and was a principal in the fight to halt the construction of I-95 from coming through the heart of Jamaica Plain—including painting “Stop I-95 – People Before Highways” in two-story tall letters along Columbus Avenue. Working with the ESAC Housing Committee, Hafer established Urban Edge in 1974, where he served as Executive Director until 1988. Urban Edge will turn 50 this year and has helped build and renovate affordable homes for thousands in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. Hafer’s community work continued into his 70s and 80s, including St.


Obituary: JP’s John Rowse, 74, Founder of Boston Building Resources and Community Boat Building

Jamaica Plain resident John Rowse, the founder of Boston Building Resources, died on March 29. He was 74. A genuine visionary, John founded the Boston Building Materials Co-op in 1978 and co-founded the nonprofit Reuse Center in 1993. He went on to start a third organization, Community Boat Building, in the last decade of his life. John was trained as an architect and had a passion for sharing his knowledge with other homeowners, especially those with fewer financial resources, so that they could take good care of their homes.

Eleanor Elias

Ellie Elias, Co-Founder of Sorella’s, 63

Eleanor "Ellie" Elias who founded Sorella's with her sister Antoinette "Toni" Elias, died Monday. She was 63. The Hyde Square restaurant has become an iconic part of Jamaica Plain. The sisters opened it in 1983, according to the Jamaica Plain Gazette. As the Gazette points out, the name Sorella's means "sisters."

A bench at Jamaica Pond will be dedicated to Noah Katz, who died on Aug. 2, 2104.

Memorial for Noah Katz, Pond Fixture, Set for Saturday

Noah Katz, well known for his gregarious presence at Jamaica Pond, will have a bench dedicated to his memory. A commemoration ceremony is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the bandstand. Katz died on Aug. 2, 2014. Here's a message from Donna Kiefer:

At long last, we have a date and time to meet and commemorate our dear friend and family member.

Sam Sherwood directs the Metropolitan Wind Symphony at Pinebank.

Sam Sherwood: Worked to Make Jamaica Plain Beautiful

Some people live quiet lives in their neighborhoods; others change the life of the neighborhoods in which they live. Sam Sherwood was a life-changer. He and Sarah Freeman spent decades working together to help make Jamaica Plain the beautiful neighborhood it is today. He was an ardent environmentalist, a well-known political activist, a renowned raconteur, and a man with an insatiable love of life. Whether it was music, movies, theater, history, photography or world travels, Sam’s passions ran deep and his knowledge of each and every one of his interests was remarkable.

Rev. Michael F. McLellan, who was pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish from October 1991 to August 2004, died suddenly on Sunday during a worship service at his current parish in Canton. He was 64.

Rev. Michael F. McLellan, 64: Former Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church

Rev. Michael F. McLellan, who was pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish from October 1991 to August 2004, died suddenly on Sunday during a worship service at his current parish in Canton. He was 64. Here are arrangements for his memorial services, according to Jamaica Plain's Patrick O'Connor:
A wake will take place at St. John's in Canton on Thursday from 2 to 8 p.m. Msgr. Bourque will celebrate Mass at 8 p.m. with members of the Hispanic choir from the three parishes in Jamaica Plain attending.

Detlev Alain Koepke

Detlev Alain Koepke, 58: Philosophy Teacher, Neighborhood Advocate

Detlev Alain Koepke was born on June 23, 1956 at Kandang Kerbau Hospital in Singapore. He spent his early childhood in Munich, Germany and immigrated to the United States at age nine. After graduating from the liberal arts honors program at the University of Texas at age 19, and attending Columbia University’s Ph.D history program on a full scholarship (he obtained a Master’s degree), Detlev moved to Boston in 1983 to attend Harvard Divinity School. In his 30-plus years in Jamaica Plain, Detlev was very active in the local community, in many creative, academic and social justice pursuits. He participated and performed in international folk dancing troupes, sang in the Dedham Choral Society, and formed a number of recorder performance groups.


‘A Loving, Generous Young Woman’

The Boston Public Schools released a statement on the death of Dawnn Jaffier, a 26-year-old BPS graduate who worked at the Boys & Girls Club located at the Hennigan School in JP. She was shot Saturday morning in Dorchester during a parade, apparently an untargeted victim of gunfire. The schools released their statement via Twitter:

"Dawnn Jaffier served in two of our schools - the Tobin K-8 and the Hennigan - as a community partner. We are mourning her loss tonight. Our students called her 'Coach Dawnn.'

Carlos B. Icaza, second from right, died Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Here he is seen at the June 2014 meeting of the JP Business & Professional Assoc. at Spontaneous Celebrations.

Carlos B. Icaza, Carpenter and Neighborhood Advocate

Carlos B. Icaza, well-known in JP for his civic work with organizations like the JP Business & Professional Assoc., died Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. According to his death notice at, "Born in Hampden, Conn., Carlos was a reader, thinker, writer, adventurer, storyteller and troublemaker." Icaza was a union carpenter and president of Just Small Jobs Inc.

A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 at The Parish of All Saints, 209 Ashmont St., Dorchester.

Rafael Rivera García (1929-2014)

Rafael Rivera García, Painter of Hyde Square Mural, Dies in Puerto Rico

An artist whose Hyde Square mural became a landmark has died at 85. Rafael "Sonny" Rivera García, died Friday in Puerto Rico, according to his son, Boricua Rivera. In 1984, the elder Rivera painted a mural on Perkins Street that honors the Taino culture of what is today Puerto Rico. The mural has since been restored twice and come to be a symbol of Jamaica Plain in general and Hyde-Jackson squares in particular. Sonny Rivera's murals have adorned public spaces in Miami; San Juan and Guanica, Puerto Rico; and New York City.