Robert M. “Bob” O'Malley, long-time executive at Suffolk Downs, died Feb. 25 at his home in Milton, Mass, after battling cancer for several years. He was 69.
O’Malley was named the track’s chief operating officer in 1996. His experience at Suffolk Downs spanned five decades and seven separate ownerships.
O’Malley began working at the track parking cars part-time as a student in 1962, but did not join Suffolk Downs full-time until 1974. He had been part of the management team since being named assistant general manager in 1976 when Suffolk Downs was owned by the Ogden Corporation. He was named general manager in 1979 and vice president of planning and development in 1986 under the ownership of the Belle Isle partnership. He was the executive vice president of operations when the track reopened under Sterling Suffolk Racecourse in 1992.
“His knowledge and expertise have been invaluable and through the years, he has been a wonderful mentor," said John Hall, track president and partner in Sterling Suffolk Racecourse. "He earned the respect of everyone in racing in New England and of everyone who worked with him.”
“He helped me and my family out so much and he helped a lot of people through the years." said Rudy Baez, the long-time leading jockey in New England who now works as the clerk of scales at Suffolk. "I know we will miss him a lot. He was a true gentleman whose word was his bond.”
In 2002, O'Malley received the Sam McCracken Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to New England racing from the New England Turf Writers Association.
Born in Boston. O'Malley served a two-year stint as a Marine in Vietnam. He went on to graduate from Boston State College before earning a graduate degree in history from the University of Pennsylvania as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He joined the faculty at Boston State College as a professor of history prior to returning to Suffolk Downs.
A funeral service will be held March 1 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Agatha’s Church in Milton. A wake will be held Wednesday, February 28 at the Alfred Thomas Funeral Home, 326 Granite Ave., Milton from 4-8 p.m.
O'Malley's survivors include his wife Paula, son Geoffrey, and daughter Meaghan.