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Local News

September 29, 2012

Coin flip determined future for 'Mr. Danvers'

Everyone’s life has a story. In “Lives,” we tell some of those stories about North Shore people who have died recently.

DANVERS — How Thomas Francis “Frank” Tyrrell Jr. came to be known as Mr. Danvers, in recognition of his long years of public service, is rooted in a coin toss in the late 1950s.

Both he and the late Baron Mayer wanted to run for a single selectman’s seat, but rather than start a political battle and lose their friendship, Tyrrell suggested they flip a coin.

Mayer won, and so Tyrrell ran for School Committee instead, winning election in 1959. He would go on to serve 21 years and become the longest-serving School Committee member in town history. Mayer served for more than two decades as a selectman, and Tyrrell never challenged him for his seat.

On Sept. 16, Tyrrell died at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers. He was 94.

He spent much of his life giving back to Danvers — serving on two school boards, as a Town Meeting member, a founding member of the Danvers Kiwanis and a trustee for the Peabody Institute Library.

In 2006, Tyrrell won the Baron Mayer award for outstanding volunteerism, an award named after his old friend.

At the time of the award, Town Manager Wayne Marquis said: “He’s truly an example to all of us of what it means to serve your community. He’s our own version of Mr. Danvers.”

Marquis said this week that he remembers Tyrrell attended the most recent annual Town Meeting in May, and even though it was difficult for him physically, “he felt very good for having been there.”

Tyrrell was a likable, direct, plainspoken public servant with a lot of common sense, two of his daughters said. He liked to stick up for the underdog, and in the days before email, always returned calls.

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