Much is sure to be written in the months to come about the pending retirement of Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis. But we’d be remiss if we failed to acknowledge his surprise announcement Wednesday night and why it sparks such strong reactions.
For the 35 years that Marquis has guided this community, it has had a reputation for good management. The streets are always plowed and clear. Public buildings are well-maintained. There are few of the budgetary crises that afflict other communities from time to time; finances are controlled, and major projects are planned and budgeted well in advance. The town just finished a $70 million overhaul of Danvers High School without the need for an override — an accomplishment that seems nearly incredible at a time when overrides are sought elsewhere for operating expenses.
This alone is a legacy to be proud of. But it’s not what most people will remember about Marquis.
They — and we — will remember the man who organized the response to the November 2006 explosion in Danversport that displaced 70 families in a night and forced the demolition of 25 homes and businesses. In the midst of chaos, Marquis’ professionalism, calmness and compassion became a rock for the neighborhood and the community.
In the days that followed, he was everywhere, coordinating the response efforts, consulting with state and federal officials and meeting daily with neighborhood residents. He promised them he would follow through, and he did — for weeks, months and even years later. Today, Danvers is a safer and more beautiful community, in no small measure because of his efforts.
That kind of leadership won’t be easily replaced. And it’s why, even as they wish him well, Danvers residents will find it hard to see him go.