02/26/2007 12:00AM

O'Malley, Suffolk leader, dies

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Robert M. O'Malley, who led Suffolk Downs as an executive through boom and bust for seven different owners, died Sunday at his home in Milton, Mass., after a long battle with cancer, Suffolk officials said. He was 69.

O'Malley's association with Suffolk Downs spanned five decades, from his start as a parking valet to the last 10 years as chief operating officer.

"We will miss Bob O'Malley's character and leadership," said John Hall, president of Suffolk Downs. "His knowledge and expertise have been invaluable, and through the years he has been a wonderful mentor."

O'Malley's biggest contributions came in the often bare-knuckle world of Massachusetts parimutuel politics. He was instrumental in the reopening of Suffolk Downs in 1992 after the track had been closed for about two years, and in the passage of simulcasting bills the last two years.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci said, "It was obvious, even at the times when not everyone was getting along, that Bob was a bridge-builder and a peacemaker."

O'Malley is survived by his wife, Paula; his son, Geoffrey; his daughter, Meaghan Parmele; and two brothers and two sisters. A wake was scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Alfred Thomas Funeral Home in Milton, Mass., and a funeral at 10:30oa.m. Thursday at St. Agatha's Church in Milton.