, Salem, MA

June 11, 2013

Letter: Former mayor leaves a legacy

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

A former chief executive officer of the city of Salem recently passed away, and he was a friend I will miss. Former Mayor Jean Levesque, who was elected mayor as a compromise candidate from the Salem City Council, turned out to be the perfect man to fill a difficult job. His tenure as Salem’s chief officer lasted only a decade, but in that 10-year term of office, the man who served his country in World War II served his community very well. He worked the corner office most effectively during the 10 years he had control of the city reins. Mayor Levesque was responsible for a great deal of redevelopment that is still ongoing in parts of the downtown. His support for the citation of the Downtown Pedestrian Mall in Salem served the community very well for a number of years. The Levesque walkway is now being considered for some changes, but when it was built, it had great community support, and right up to the time that I stopped coming to downtown Salem, I regularly bumped into Jean enjoying a trip around the city on his walkway.

My most complete connection with Mayor Lévesque was in the early 1960s. I was a senior vice president at Salem Five when President Al Cole and I approached him about support for a project we wanted to undertake at what was to be known as Pickering Wharf. In its earliest days, the project was not the success that we had hoped for, but in retrospect, the project and his forward-thinking support for the effort more than likely were at least partially responsible for the rebirth of the National Park Service Maritime Site, the building of the replica sailing ship Friendship, The Waterfront Hotel, the Canal Walkway, the Salem Ferry, and the many rebuilt properties along Derby and New Derby street. Jean will be remembered for his positive decisions and outcomes for the city of Salem.

ThomAs M. Leonard


President Emeritus

Essex Heritage