By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — MARBLEHEAD — Larry Alexander worked to clean up the streets — literally.
Alexander, who served in the Massachusetts Legislature from 1979 to 1990, died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston on Election Day at age 62.
“He’d been battling a long illness,” his nephew David Luce said. But some days previously, “with his wife and daughter, he made sure to fill out his absentee ballot.”
To the end, civic responsibility was extremely important to Alexander and his family, Luce said.
Representing his home of Marblehead, as well as Swampscott and a portion of Lynn, Alexander is credited with a key role in passing the bottle bill in 1983. The law, which requires a deposit on some bottled and canned drinks, was intended to discourage people from discarding them on the street.
A trial lawyer and graduate of Yale University, Alexander was also a writer who studied under novelist John Hersey. He even wrote a novel, as well as articles on politics for The Salem News and other newspapers.
Tom McNulty, a former selectman and town clerk, remembers Alexander as “a terrific man.”
When he stepped into politics as a Democrat, Alexander was “a progressive young attorney,” McNulty said. “He was really liked on both sides of the aisle because he was such a decent and honest man.”
McNulty lists the bottle bill as Alexander’s major accomplishment, although he also managed to push through a measure that outlawed the practice of allowing politicians to pocket unused campaign funds. That was impressive enough that he later won the Massachusetts Common Cause Public Service Award.
After 10 years, Alexander stepped down from his seat on Beacon Hill.
Former Selectman Bill Conly was on the opposite side of the aisle from Alexander, but he remembers him as someone willing to work with others.
“He was a very young man when he became a rep,” Conly said. “And he worked very hard for the town. ... He was sincere, and he worked well with the board.”
After politics, Alexander was a legislative consultant for environmental firms. He also used his experience on Beacon Hill to lecture on politics at Yale, Tufts and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
He served on the Marblehead Planning Board, the Marblehead Conservancy and the Shore Country Day School board of trustees.
“He was a wonderful man,” Luce said. “A joy to be around. He was always positive and happy and fun. He was passionate about the things he cared about, but he was always willing to listen to opposing points of view.”