Our Opinion: Gerald Lee demonstrated how much one could accomplish with integrity, dedication, sense of humor
In his long years of service to Pittsfield, Gerald Lee demonstrated how much one could accomplish with a combination of integrity, dedication and a sense of humor applied at just the right moment.
Mr. Lee died on Christmas Day at the age of 79 after a battle with cancer. He lived most of his life on Commonwealth Avenue, where he and his wife, Michelle, who died in 2018, raised their four children ("There for everybody: Longtime city leader Gerald Lee dies," Eagle, Dec. 27).
Mr. Lee served with the Pittsfield Police Department for 25 years, working his way up the ranks to chief. His height gave him an authoritative air but he was not intimidating, and those who served with him note that he was a go-to guy for guidance, as he could be counted upon for wise, knowledgeable advice.
After retiring as chief, he took these qualities to the City Council where he served from 2000 to 2012, first winning the Council presidency by vote of his peers in 2004. Mr. Lee's natural air of authority enabled him to rein in occasionally quarrelsome councilors and open mic speakers and keep meetings running smoothly. He spoke rarely, as is the case with Council presidents charged with serving essentially as orchestra conductors, and rarely raised his sonorous baritone when he did speak. Instead, he would employ a duly witty retort or observation to make his point or defuse a disagreement.
Mr. Lee's tenure as president coincided in part with the administration of Mayor James Ruberto, and he was instrumental in the success of the mayor's efforts to improve downtown and attract cultural institutions to the city. Mayor Linda Tyer attests to the support Mr. Lee gave her from the time she served as city clerk.
City servants who are as accomplished, graceful and admired over a period of decades as was Mr. Lee are a rarity. His legacy as police chief, City Council president and advocate of his city is secure.
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