Lawrence Joseph Moloney, Jr (L.J. Moloney) was born in Chicago in 1949 as eldest son of Lawrence
Joseph Moloney, Sr., and his wife Agnes (neé Stark) Moloney. He was the eldest of a family that
eventually included 6 children. His grandfather was a lawyer for the city of Chicago sanitation
department, and a precinct captain of the Democrat party. His father was working for Purex
Corporation. In 1955 Purex moved its headquarters to Southern California. As part of the corporate reorganization, Lawrence Joseph Moloney Sr. was promoted and Purex moved him and the family to Whittier, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The mid 50’s was a great time to be a kid in Southern California. There were lots of kids, three houses either side of his and across the street contained more than 23 kids most of them boys between the ages of 8 and 3. They played pickup sports games constantly, especially football, basketball, and baseball. L.J. had a lifetime of pure fun through his late teens.
L.J. attended grammar school at St. Gregory the Great Elementary with his brothers and sister. In 5th grade, he got a job delivering newspapers for the East Whittier Review, and made between $8 and $9 a month which in the day of nickel candy bars and dime soda was not bad. L.J. was an altar boy for St. Gregory the Great Parish. Mass was in Latin then and the altar boy had to know the responses because the altar boy spoke for the people. He served mass at 6:30 AM almost every day for 4 years. He served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Devotions on Wednesday nights, Station of the Cross on Friday during Lent, weddings, which were always good for a tip, and funerals which were grim affairs.
L.J. attended St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, CA, and was an offensive lineman for the St Paul Swordsmen Football Team. He attended Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier California and continued to play football as an offensive lineman at the college level, and earned his two year degree.
He transferred to University of San Francisco for a year, where he also played football. During his college years, L.J. coached basketball at St Gregory Parish, and coached youth baseball for the maverick little league in Whittier.
Around 1974-1975 L.J. enrolled at California State University at Humboldt (CSHU) (Humboldt State) in an attempt to finish his degree but needed to earn money to pay for it. He went job hunting to earn enough money to go back to College, and through connections with friends he moved to Denver Colorado seeking employment. Through a job service in Denver Colorado, L.J was offered a job on the Burlington Northern Railroad in Upton Wyoming. He took the job, worked in the bunk cars, became a camp tender, and gradually came to realize that he thought working on the railroad was a ton of fun.
L.J. returned to Humboldt State for winter quarter 1975 and while studying at Humboldt State he met and began a relationship with Linda Jean Moore, who was also attending Humboldt State. L.J. and Linda continued correspondence for several years while L.J. was alternately attending college and working for the railroad in Wyoming and Nebraska. L.J. eventually gave up the idea of finishing his degree at Humboldt State, in favor of the steady income, physical work and everyday problem-solving of the railroad. Linda chose to follow him out to Nebraska, and they married in 1979 in Crawford.
L.J. worked for Burlington Northern, which eventually became Burlington Northern – Santa Fe, and then BNSF, for about 35 years. He built track across eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska, became foreman of a bunk car gang, and eventually a Roadmaster and finally a track inspector. Between 1979 and 1985 L.J. and Linda spent time living in Crawford Nebraska, Wymore Nebraska, and St. Joseph Missouri.
In 1986, due to a reorganization of the railroad around St. Joseph, L.J.’s job was eliminated, and the railroad offered him a choice of transfer locations. L.J. and Linda chose to move back to Crawford Nebraska, because Crawford was where he had the most fun in his previous detours. They purchased a house on Fourth Street, and soon after conceived a son, Timothy Paul Moloney, who was born on January 2, 1987.
L.J. loved being a father and he was a great fit for the role. He was big, strong, only a little bit dirty, gruff but gentle, coarse yet caring, a firm hand and he knew how to challenge a person just enough to make them grow. He was a child’s dream as a father, he always had time, he would always make time, and he was very much the man of the house.
Crawford was his vision of paradise, and he worked hard to serve his community. He headed the Crawford Baseball Association for about a decade between 1990 and 2000, arranged construction of new baseball fields after the 1991 flood damaged the old fields, and coached teams in the local league and traveled to regional tournaments. He coached 5 th and 6 th grade basketball for several years. He became Mayor of Crawford in 1994 and served 3 terms. During his time as mayor he arranged major upgrades to the city water system and sanitary treatment facility. L.J. retired from the railroad in 2010 and spent the final decade of his life traveling with his wife, spending time with his grandchildren, and watching sports on TV and live. One of his favorite trips was to go to spring training in Arizona.
He passed at home on the evening May 13 th , 2022. He is survived by his wife Linda (neé Moore), son Tim Moloney with his wife Claire, and grandchildren Ceci, Silas and Sage. Also by his sister Mary Moloney and brothers Jim (wife Marcia), GP (wife Ameé), Michael (wife Kathie), and Ed, plus their progeny.
A funeral service for LJ Moloney will be held at St. John’s Catholic Church in Crawford at 2 PM on Tuesday May 24th. There will also be a Rosary service dedicated to LJ at 6 PM on Monday May 23rd.
Donations in LJ’s memory may be made to the Crawford Baseball Association or to St. John’s Catholic Church in Crawford. Memorials can be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.