DANVERS — The change to representative Town Meeting in the 1930s meant those who wanted to serve had to run for office instead of just showing up to vote. That, in turn, created the ability not only to tally Town Meeting members’ years of service, but to honor those who have served the longest.
Yesterday the town unveiled a plaque dedicated to Town Meeting members who have served at least 25 years. The short ceremony took place in the Daniel J. Toomey Hearing Room.
Since 1932, when the town switched to electing Town Meeting members, at least 1,100 individuals have served, said Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Woytovich.
Two current members, Bob Osgood and Bruce Eaton, have been Town Meeting members for more than 50 years.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Osgood, 83, said of honoring longtime members. “I think it will give the younger generation (young adults) ... the idea to run for Town Meeting.”
In 1959, Osgood, a retired firefighter, ran for Town Meeting on a dare from his captain in the Fire Department. His interest in the inner workings of Town Meeting keep him running year after year. And while he cannot get to as many Finance Committee meetings as he would like, he is able to watch them on Danvers Community Access Television.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in the town,” said Eaton, the adjutant for American Legion Post 180 and president of the Danvers Veterans Council. Eaton, a 35-year water and sewer commissioner and former town engineer, has served on many town boards and committees. He likes the Town Meeting form of government because it has a more transparent, democratic feel than that of a city form of government.
Town Meeting member Andrea Daley came up with the idea of honoring longtime members. She and her husband, Michael Daley, now a member of the Finance Committee, have more than 60 years of service between them.
“There are always unsung heroes,” she said of the impetus behind the idea, which grew out of a party in November to honor Osgood.
Figuring out who served when was not easy. The Daleys and a senior citizen who works at Town Hall as part of a tax work-off program combed the thick record books for names contained in roll call votes.
“It took us weeks to go from 1932 ... to 2013,” she said. The Daleys would work on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two- to three-hour stretches. Woytovich, who had created a list of years of service for present-day members when Osgood was honored, updated this list.
The plaque has been created to allow it to be updated every five years.
Danvers Town Meeting Members with 25 or more years of service
Robert Osgood, Bruce Eaton.
William Clark Jr., T. Frank Tyrrell Jr., Vernon Russell Jr., Lawrence Chisholm, Paul Ferguson, W. Hobart Clark Sr., Richard Trask, Robert Raiche, William Nicholson.
Nelson Morin, Richard Caldarone, Arch Astolfi, Robert Caliga, G. Loring Hooper, Carl Gates, Frederic Merriam, Joan George, Patricia Toomey, Michael Swindell, Alan Weeks, Robert Teal, Guy Creese, Henry Thurlow, John Duffill Jr., Stephen Carleton, John George, Janice Flynn, Andrea Daley, Michael Daley, Charles Dame Jr., Elizabeth Klemm, Harold Eisenhauer, Harvey Lewis, Ralph Gaskill, Janice Tipert.
Wilbur Cobb, Dana Michael Hagan, Peter Lovell, Mark McDermott, John Webb, Janet Eaton Brown, William Weir Jr., Carter White, Wallace Cook, John Woodberry, Priscilla Curda, Paul Aiken, Maryann Kowalski, Alvah Bradstreet, W. Coley Rybicki, Louis Green, Stanley Brown, James Harrington, James Sears.