POY 2023

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20<br />

23<br />

Persons<br />

of the Year



Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


Charles Gaeta, Executive Director<br />

Steve Martin, Susan McGinnis-Lang<br />

Robert Muise, Justin Anshewitz,<br />


<strong>2023</strong> | 3<br />

Publisher<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Directors<br />

Edward L. Cahill<br />

John M. Gilberg<br />

Edward M. Grant<br />

Gordon R. Hall<br />

Monica Connell Healey<br />

J. Patrick Norton<br />

Michael H. Shanahan<br />

Controller<br />

Susan Conti<br />

Creative Director<br />

Spenser Hasak<br />

Art Director<br />

Sam Deeb<br />

Opinion Editor<br />

Stuart Foster<br />

Copy Editors<br />

Stuart Foster<br />

Nini Mtchedlishvili<br />

Writers<br />

Joey Barrett<br />

Anthony Cammalleri<br />

Vishakha Deshpande<br />

Charlie McKenna<br />

Benjamin Pierce<br />

Ryan Vermette<br />

Photographers<br />

Spenser Hasak<br />

Emma Fringuelli<br />

Jakob Menendez<br />

Advertising Sales<br />

Ernie Carpenter<br />

Ralph Mitchell<br />

Patricia Whalen<br />

Design<br />

Sam Deeb<br />


85 Exchange St.,<br />

Lynn, MA 01901<br />

781-593-7700<br />

Subscriptions:<br />

781-214-8237<br />

Itemlive.com<br />


<strong>2023</strong> Essex Media Group<br />

Persons of the Year (plus one)<br />

The number seven seems to come up quite a bit in this, our <strong>2023</strong> Essex<br />

Media Group Persons of the Year awards. For the seventh year, we are<br />

honoring those who have made significant contributions to the seven<br />

communities we cover.<br />

The contributions made by our EMG 7 rate higher than 7 on the standard<br />

1-10 scale; they score 10s across the board.<br />

For instance, we honor a Lynn teacher who started a nonprofit focused on<br />

helping Latina mothers learn English and guide them through the American<br />

education system to ensure their children’s success. In Lynnfield, a legendary<br />

coach has developed hundreds of students in tennis and wrestling for five<br />

decades and was a guest of honor at a gala last year to help raise money for<br />

new tennis courts.<br />

In Marblehead, we have a woman with an intense passion for the arts who<br />

is helping expand and brighten the future for the town’s Festival of Arts after<br />

being named president of the yearly summer festival.<br />

In Nahant, nearly 80 years after the end of World War ll, a 105-year-old<br />

veteran reflects on her time served in the Women’s Army Corps; and in<br />

Peabody, the legacy and life of a 40-year beloved police officer is honored<br />

by friends, family, and colleagues after his death last July. His service and<br />

dedication to the community resulted in a scholarship being started in his<br />

name.<br />

In Saugus, we have a 94-year-old lifelong resident who is still dedicating his<br />

time to donating to the food pantry on a weekly basis, in addition to being a<br />

decades-long member on the town’s retirement board.<br />

Last, but certainly not least, two individuals in Swampscott have upped the<br />

ante on the King’s Beach cleanup, founding a movement that has grown in<br />

popularity and effectiveness after it began as a social-media post in 2021.<br />

Those are our seven <strong>2023</strong> EMG Persons of the Year. Accomplished, all.<br />

But a conversation I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago prompted me to<br />

add one more name. Let’s call her an unofficial <strong>2023</strong> EMG Person of the Year.<br />

Laurie Walsh of Lynn.<br />

The co-owner of John’s Oil in Lynn, a longtime Democratic State<br />

Committeewoman, and a 20-plus-year chairperson of the Lynn Housing<br />

Authority & Neighborhood Development, died Jan. 28 at the age of 69.<br />

LHAND CEO Charlie Gaeta called her “my person of the year.”<br />

That’s good enough for me.<br />

Ted Grant



LYNN<br />

By Anthony Cammalleri<br />

Item Staff<br />

Because of her unwavering and<br />

impactful service to the City of Lynn’s<br />

Latino community, Latina Center<br />

Maria founder and Executive Director<br />

Magalie Torres-Rowe is Essex Media<br />

Group’s <strong>2023</strong> Lynn Person of the<br />

Year.<br />

In December, Torres-Rowe,<br />

alongside Mayor Jared Nicholson,<br />

other elected officials, and a team of<br />

officials from Latina Center Maria,<br />

cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the<br />

nonprofit’s Escuela Latina location at<br />

271 Western Ave.<br />

In 2016, Torres-Rowe, a teacher at<br />

Lynn Public Schools, founded Latina<br />

Center Maria to teach Latina mothers<br />

English and help them navigate the<br />

American education system to ensure<br />

their children’s academic success. She<br />

said that as a bilingual educator who<br />

spoke with Latino parents in English<br />

and Spanish, her students were able to<br />

achieve A and B grades in her class.<br />

“The main problem with Latino<br />

dropouts is that the parents don’t<br />

speak English, so they can’t help their<br />

kids with homework, and also, they<br />

cannot talk to teachers about what’s<br />

going on with their kids,” Torres-<br />

Rowe said. “When people know how<br />

the U.S. educational system works,<br />

it’s going to be easier for parents<br />

because a blind person cannot guide<br />

another blind person. You have to<br />

learn how the system works.”<br />

Torres-Rowe credited the city’s<br />

personnel director, Drew Russo, for<br />

helping her set up initial biweekly<br />

classes at the LynnArts center.<br />

As the organization grew, Torres-<br />

Rowe said Lynn Housing Authority<br />

and Neighborhood Development<br />

Executive Director Charlie Gaeta<br />

opened LHAND’s Community Room<br />

for the Latina Center Maria to host<br />

classes.<br />

As the program continued to grow,<br />

the Latina Center Maria expanded<br />

to include various programs aimed<br />

at assisting Latino families, such as<br />

childcare for Latina mothers, family<br />

movie nights, citizenship workshops,<br />

parenting classes, book clubs, and<br />

English classes.<br />

In 2020, Torres-Rowe received the<br />

Commonwealth Heroines Award for<br />

her strides to expand opportunity for<br />

immigrant and Latino households in<br />

Massachusetts and create the firstever<br />

Spanish National Junior Honor<br />

Society, which she founded while<br />

working at Lynn Public Schools.<br />

“Two girls were the officers at<br />

the Spanish Honors Society at Breed<br />

— one of them was the salutatorian<br />

at Lynn Classical last year,” Torres-<br />

Rowe said. “The two of them are<br />

now studying at Yale University in<br />

Connecticut.”<br />

As a Peruvian immigrant who<br />

came to the U.S. in the ’90s and<br />

received a Ph.D. from Southern<br />


New Hampshire University at no<br />

cost, Torres-Rowe said she works<br />

tirelessly out of gratitude to God for<br />

the opportunities that came her way<br />

and for the satisfaction of seeing her<br />

students succeed.<br />

“I do this from the bottom of my<br />

heart… my piggy bank is with God in<br />

heaven,” Torres-Rowe said.

<strong>2023</strong> | 5<br />

Congratulations to all the Winners<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


781-592-5420 • stjeanscu.com




By Joey Barrett<br />

Item Sports Editor<br />

When it comes to Lynnfield tennis<br />

and wrestling coach Craig Stone, it’s<br />

hard to find a box unchecked – as a<br />

coach and, more importantly, as a<br />

person.<br />

We know about the conference<br />

titles, state championships, Coach of<br />

the Year awards, and 1,200-plus wins<br />

between the two sports.<br />

But beyond any swing of the racket<br />

or pin on the mat, Stone has touched<br />

an incredible amount of lives – just by<br />

being himself.<br />

“Craig has always been ahead of<br />

the game in coaching, relationships,<br />

partnerships, and teaching people,”<br />

said Nick Secatore, Lynnfield’s police<br />

chief who wrestled for Stone in 1997<br />

before becoming his assistant coach.<br />

“More than that, just showing students<br />

the right way to behave – how you<br />

win, how you lose, and how you<br />

improve.”<br />

Things came full circle for Stone<br />

last March when he served as an<br />

honorary guest during a Lynnfield<br />

gala to raise money for new tennis<br />

courts.<br />

The gala welcomed roughly 240<br />

people, and more often than not, they<br />

had relationships with Stone. He was<br />

a mentor, friend, and even a father<br />

figure to many in attendance.<br />

“It’s not like they were 240<br />

strangers,” said Stone, who was<br />

pleasantly surprised by a cardboard<br />

cutout of himself that night.<br />

The few hours were “very<br />

nostalgic,” as said by Stone, who<br />

enjoyed recreating stories and<br />

laughing the night away.<br />

It was just a snapshot of Stone’s<br />

impact since 1972, the year he was<br />

hired into Lynnfield’s school system.<br />

Mike Bodek used to wrestle for<br />

Stone, but not always.<br />

“I had a buddy who told me, ‘You<br />

don’t want to play basketball; you<br />

want to come wrestle for this guy,’”<br />

Bodek said.<br />

The end result was Bodek<br />

becoming one of the best wrestlers<br />

in Lynnfield High history and, more<br />

importantly, finding a new friend.<br />

“He was awesome,” said Bodek,<br />

who added how important Stone was<br />

in coping with his mother’s cancer.<br />

“He had a great effect on me in high<br />

school and it’s carried up to today.”<br />

Jill Migliero McEwan, a doubles<br />

player on Lynnfield’s 1997 state<br />

championship team, spoke about<br />

Stone’s coaching style.<br />

“He’s the perfect combination,”<br />

McEwan said. “He pushes you, but<br />

he’s kind and considerate… He’s just<br />

a great human being.”<br />

Nicholas Saggese, one of three<br />

Saggese brothers to wrestle for Stone,<br />

said his respect for his former coach<br />

“has no expiration date.”<br />

“What kids need today is what Mr.<br />

Stone gave us: old school discipline<br />

and respect,” Saggese said. “Today, I<br />

only know Craig Stone as Mr. Stone.”<br />

It’s a two-way street. The<br />

community loves Stone, and he loves<br />

it back.<br />

“It’s very positive and very<br />

receptive,” Stone said. “It’s just been<br />

a collection of people at all levels.<br />

I’ve been fortunate to work in a<br />

community that’s very supportive.”<br />


And he’s passionate. What was<br />

once an old mudroom in the Stone<br />

household has turned into a room<br />

full of newspaper clippings and other<br />

memorabilia – not about himself, but<br />

the others.<br />

“I just so much enjoy reading<br />

the alumni names,” Stone said. “A<br />

lot of them come back to say hi and<br />

update me on their families and their<br />

experiences.”<br />

With more than 600 tennis<br />

wins and 500 in wrestling, Stone’s<br />

philosophy remains more important<br />

than any victory in competition.<br />

“To affect in a positive way,” Stone said.

<strong>2023</strong> | 7<br />

Congratulations to the <strong>2023</strong> Essex Media Group Persons of the Year!<br />


LYNN<br />






NAHANT<br />




SAUGUS<br />



Representative Brad Jones<br />

Massachusetts State House, Rm 124<br />

Boston, MA 02133 • 617.722.2100<br />

Bradley.Jones@MAHouse.gov • repbradjones@comcast.net<br />

I am proud to represent the Essex Media Group’s<br />

The<br />

Craig Stone<br />

of Lynnfield & A Local Hero<br />

Congratulations to all Persons of the Year:<br />

Magalie Torres-Rowe, Craig Stone, Jodi Charles, Virginia Fiske,<br />

Henry Breckenridge, Gene Decareau, Elizabeth Smith and Andrea Amour




By Ryan Vermette<br />

Item Staff<br />

For her work in expanding,<br />

influencing, and continually evolving<br />

the Marblehead Festival of Arts as<br />

its president, and for her countless<br />

hours of work volunteering and<br />

teaching for numerous organizations<br />

locally, nationally, and internationally,<br />

Jodi-Tatiana Charles is Essex Media<br />

Group’s Person of the Year in<br />

Marblehead.<br />

For more than 60 years, the<br />

Festival of Arts has been led by town<br />

volunteers in order to celebrate the<br />

arts through an annual festival that<br />

has become one of the town’s most<br />

iconic events.<br />

Last year, Charles took over as<br />

president after volunteering with the<br />

festival for nearly a decade, and it<br />

has only grown and flourished since<br />

taking the role, with <strong>2023</strong>’s festival<br />

showing evidence of that.<br />

In addition to the festival, Charles<br />

also volunteers her time with two<br />

other nonprofit organizations.<br />

Growing up in a Catholic family, she<br />

said that volunteerism was a big part<br />

of her upbringing.<br />

“In my family, it was just<br />

automatic. We always, always, always<br />

gave back,” Charles said. “It was a<br />

great way to understand and know<br />

your community.”<br />

From a young age, Charles was<br />

always surrounded by the arts, both<br />

in her own home and wherever she<br />

traveled. Her family was always<br />

taking trips to museums and galleries<br />

as her father taught her their value in<br />

learning about a community’s history<br />

and culture, which is a primary reason<br />

for her love and involvement in<br />

Marblehead’s art community today.<br />

“To live in a coastal town where<br />

there’s so many amazing artists, I<br />

wanted to volunteer,” she said.<br />

Now, her focus is to improve and<br />

expand the festival to reach as many<br />

people as possible. That goal began<br />

at last year’s festival, with a number<br />

of new events and activities being<br />

implemented. A 5K run and walk was<br />

added, in addition to Chalk this Way,<br />

which aimed to incorporate a streetart<br />

element to the festival.<br />

By adding more events containing<br />

various forms of art, Charles is hoping<br />

to provide different avenues for a<br />

more broad and diverse audience to<br />

enjoy.<br />

The festival also partnered with<br />

local business Hestia Creations<br />

to create a scavenger hunt where<br />

nonprofits partnered with artists to<br />

paint orbs that were then hidden<br />

along the trails in town, which when<br />

found, taught people about the various<br />

organizations, generating more traffic<br />

and publicity on their websites.<br />

Those additions are just some of<br />


the ways that under her direction,<br />

Charles is hoping to bring in new<br />

ways of thinking to allow for events<br />

to evolve to reach all demographics.<br />

“It brought the community together,<br />

young and old. So for me, it’s all about<br />

how do we sit there and make this<br />

festival for everyone of all ages, all<br />

sizes, all ethnicities,” Charles said.

<strong>2023</strong> | 9<br />


NAHANT<br />

By Vishakha Deshpande<br />

Item Staff<br />

At 105 years old, Virginia Fiske<br />

is a living testament to Nahant’s<br />

enduring spirit.<br />

A World War II veteran, Fiske’s<br />

journey has been one of resilience,<br />

service, and a deep connection to<br />

the coastal town that she once called<br />

home. Although she now resides in<br />

Chelsea, her heart remains in Nahant,<br />

where she spent more than 50 years in<br />

her Karolyn Circle residence.<br />

Fiske’s ties to Nahant trace back<br />

to her summers spent at her family’s<br />

beach home, a tradition that began<br />

during her upbringing in nearby<br />

Everett. The allure of the ocean<br />

and the charm of Nahant eventually<br />

drew her to the town permanently in<br />

1961. It was a decision fueled by her<br />

husband’s pursuit of a career in the<br />

restaurant business, anchoring the<br />

couple in the oceanside community<br />

that would become an integral part of<br />

their lives.<br />

“There’s nobody else in our<br />

family,” her son Lew told The Daily<br />

Item. “My brother’s passed on and I’m<br />

just by myself. It’s hard sometimes,<br />

but you have to make the best of it.<br />

I’m fortunate to have my mother. Not<br />

too many people have that.”<br />

Enlisting in the Women’s Army<br />

Corps at 24 in 1942, Fiske embarked<br />

on a service journey during World War<br />

II. Her dedication to her country and<br />

her love for Nahant would later weave<br />

a unique tapestry of experiences that<br />

define her legacy in the town.<br />

“Some of the service people found<br />

out my information. They called<br />

me, and I said yes, I would go along<br />

with it,” Fiske told The Daily Item<br />

previously. “At the beginning of my<br />

service, I was working in the Everett<br />

National Bank, and then when I<br />

retired from the army, I went back to<br />

the bank for a couple of years, and<br />

that was it.”<br />

In her retirement years, Fiske found<br />

a new calling in the heart of Nahant,<br />

working for Town Assessor Sheila<br />

Hambleton at Nahant Town Hall<br />

in 2002. Being the town’s longestliving<br />

veteran, Fiske embraced the<br />

opportunity to contribute to the<br />

community that had become an<br />

intrinsic part of her identity.<br />

“She’s a spitfire, let’s just say,”<br />

Hambleton, a longtime friend, told<br />

The Daily Item. “She keeps asking<br />

me to bring her more work (to do<br />

at home), and she loves to go out to<br />

dinner. She’s Italian — fully Italian<br />

— and she makes very good Italian<br />

meals.”<br />

Fiske’s story is a living chronicle<br />

of Nahant’s history intertwined with<br />


her journey of love, service, and<br />

community. As she looks back on her<br />

105 years, Fiske continues to be a<br />

beacon of inspiration for both Nahant<br />

and Chelsea, leaving an indelible mark<br />

on the landscapes she has called home.<br />

“None of us know how much longer<br />

we have,” she said.




By Charlie McKenna<br />

Item Staff<br />

When Henry Breckenridge died<br />

tragically on Wednesday, July 19,<br />

<strong>2023</strong>, it seemed all of Peabody came<br />

to a screeching halt.<br />

The 40-year-old police officer<br />

was beloved — not just within the<br />

department or at Bishop Fenwick<br />

High School, where he was a star<br />

athlete, but everywhere in the city and<br />

especially in its schools. Breckenridge<br />

had a special bond with the city’s<br />

youth, and it’s only fitting his name<br />

will live on forever at the West<br />

Elementary School playground.<br />

Breckenridge, Essex Media<br />

Group’s <strong>2023</strong> Person of the Year for<br />

the City of Peabody, was “quite an<br />

amazing kid,” remembered Police<br />

Chief Tom Griffin.<br />

“I knew he was doing some<br />

community work, but when the<br />

tragedy happened, all the people that<br />

came forward… it was amazing,”<br />

Griffin said, adding Breckenridge<br />

served on the force for a relatively<br />

short time, just eight years. “For him<br />

to impact so many people in that short<br />

a time is incredible.”<br />

But Breckenridge didn’t serve<br />

the community to garner any sort<br />

of recognition. He did so because,<br />

simply, it was the right thing to do.<br />

And he loved Peabody. And Peabody<br />

loved him.<br />

At Breckenridge’s wake in July,<br />

Griffin recalled the service lasting<br />

“four solid hours” as more and more<br />

people recalled stories and memories<br />

of Henry.<br />

“A 40-year-old kid to have that<br />

many people come out … you usually<br />

see that when someone’s been around<br />

for a long, long time,” Griffin said.<br />

“This kid made such an impact.”<br />

Henry’s mom, Charlotte, said<br />

she hasn’t gone anywhere in the<br />

past seven months without someone<br />

coming up to her to talk about her<br />

son. She remembered him as a “big<br />

kid” who loved everybody and tried to<br />

do his best.<br />

“We thank everybody for giving us<br />

the strength and the knowledge and<br />

the heart to continue his fight… to do<br />

well, to get people to be good to each<br />

other,” Charlotte said, fighting back<br />

tears.<br />

She said those who knew Henry<br />

had different stories to share,<br />

memories from differing areas of his<br />

life.<br />

Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who<br />

coached Henry in Little League, said<br />

he left an “amazing legacy of kindness<br />

and dedication to our community.”<br />

“He will always be remembered,”<br />

Bettencourt said.<br />

To ensure Henry’s memory, a<br />

scholarship fund was named in his<br />

honor — one that Griffin said is doing<br />

“quite well” — and his portrait still<br />

hangs on the wall of the police station.<br />

When asked for a story that<br />

summed up her son, Charlotte recalled<br />

a time when her husband and two<br />

sons, Henry, then just two years old,<br />

and Robert, an infant, were locked<br />

out of the house when her husband<br />

loaned his brother his car. When her<br />

husband discovered he was without<br />

his keys, he wiggled open the window<br />

to Henry and Robert’s bedroom on the<br />

first floor, managing to squeeze young<br />

Henry in with instructions to let his<br />

father and brother in.<br />

But Henry had other plans.<br />

The night before, Charlotte had<br />

baked a cake, which remained on the<br />

kitchen table. And so, looking at the<br />

kitchen table, then back at the door,<br />

young Henry sat down and began<br />

eating the cake rather than opening<br />

the door.<br />

“That’s the kid,” Charlotte said<br />

with a chuckle.<br />

Henry also loved to cook,<br />

influenced by his grandparents, trying<br />

out different recipes and passing<br />

them around at family gatherings —<br />

even making his father jealous by<br />

outdoing his sweet potato pie, adding<br />

a chocolate crust to satisfy Charlotte’s<br />

love for chocolate.<br />

“That’s Henry, trying to remember<br />

what you liked and what you didn’t like,”<br />

she said. “Always a smile on his face.”

<strong>2023</strong> | 11<br />

Peabody<br />

Mayor Edward A.<br />

Bettencourt, Jr.<br />

Would like to congratulate all<br />

the <strong>2023</strong> Persons of the Year!<br />

Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


Congratulations to all the<br />

<strong>2023</strong> Persons of the Year!<br />

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Congratulations to all the<br />

<strong>2023</strong> Persons of the Year!<br />

Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />



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Congratulations to Andrea and<br />

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<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


Congratulations to all<br />

of this years Winners!!<br />

Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


<strong>2023</strong> | 13<br />


SAUGUS<br />

By Charlie McKenna<br />

Item Staff<br />

While Gene Decareau might be<br />

94, he isn’t letting that fact slow him<br />

down — now or ever.<br />

The lifelong Saugonian is a<br />

member of the town’s retirement<br />

board, a post he has held for more<br />

than a decade, and joined the Lions<br />

Club well before even that, roughly 55<br />

years ago. And he still donates to the<br />

food pantry every week, though he no<br />

longer drops the food off himself.<br />

“My philosophy on life is very<br />

simple,” he said in a recent telephone<br />

interview. “You don’t worry about<br />

anything because worrying makes<br />

you sick, it doesn’t help you. What<br />

will be, will be… you might as well<br />

understand that… and be happy and<br />

keep busy.”<br />

And keep busy Decareau does.<br />

On his birthday in November,<br />

Decareau taught a class at the Senior<br />

Center, instructing a group on how<br />

to make popovers. An avid baker,<br />

Decareau said he would make a pie<br />

for someone who wrote a $50 check to<br />

the Lions Club, noting that every cent<br />

donated to the organization for charity<br />

actually goes to charitable efforts.<br />

Decareau credits his volunteer<br />

spirit to his mother, who despite<br />

raising nine children in the throes<br />

of the Great Depression, always had<br />

a seat at the table for anyone who<br />

walked through her front door.<br />

“During the Depression, everybody<br />

helped everybody else because<br />

nobody had anything,” Decareau said<br />

in a recent telephone interview. “I<br />

was taught up to always help others<br />

so that’s why I do what I do. I just try<br />

to help people. I enjoy doing it. And I<br />

hope they enjoy me helping them.”<br />

Though he added quickly, “they<br />

think I’m a pain in the tush for sure.”<br />

Despite his age, Decareau said he<br />

takes no medications, and while he<br />

has his “aches and pains,” he remains<br />

in good health. His secret? He eats a<br />

banana every day.<br />

Decareau’s wit remains sharp, too.<br />

When asked what keeps him going,<br />

Decareau, who has been married to<br />

his wife, Arlene, for 77 years, said,<br />

“My wife wants to know that too.”<br />

Arelene Decareau added that “he has<br />

a lot of energy.”<br />

But, on a serious note, Decareau said<br />

he feels it’s his obligation to help others.<br />

“I enjoy working with people,<br />


that’s just who I am,” he said. “It’s<br />

nice to help others.”<br />

“I’ve been involved in that town<br />

and the community ever since I can<br />

remember,” Decareau added. “It’s a<br />

great town. I love Saugus.”




By Benjamin Pierce<br />

Item Staff<br />

Andrea Amour and Elizabeth Smith<br />

are the founders of the Save King’s<br />

Beach movement.<br />

The beach, which consists of a mile<br />

of shoreline shared by Swmapscott<br />

and Lynn, is the endpoint of a storm<br />

drain that often empties out sewage<br />

during heavy-rain events due to<br />

built-in overflows, which act as relief<br />

points by releasing excess flows into<br />

the nearest body of water.<br />

For Amour, it all started with<br />

a Facebook post in the popular<br />

community group “Swampscott Nest”<br />

in July 2021.<br />

“I’m newer to town, but I’ve<br />

seen WAY too many posts about the<br />

water safety about King’s Beach, and<br />

I’d like to do something about it,”<br />

Amour’s post read.<br />

Amour moved to Swampscott in<br />

2020 to be close to the water, as she<br />

and her husband are avid kitesurfers.<br />

When the level of pollution became<br />

clear to her, she decided to take<br />

action.<br />

“I was enraged,” Amour said.<br />

“There was no obvious signage about<br />

the sewer outfall. No town staff or<br />

pedestrians stopped me to tell me that<br />

my family was playing in sewageinfested<br />

waters. I expected the town<br />

to protect my family’s health and<br />

I felt deceived by the total lack of<br />

transparency.”<br />

Smith got on Amour’s radar during<br />

one of the meetings Amour held at her<br />

home.<br />

“Liz showed up to one of those<br />

meetings with a giant binder,” Amour<br />

recalled. “I remember feeling both<br />

intimidated and impressed by her<br />

level of knowledge — she could rattle<br />

off dates of specific events and knew<br />

all of the sewer infrastructure lingo<br />

better than anyone who’d ever shown<br />

up before.”<br />

A Swampscott resident since 2015,<br />

Smith also grew an affinity for King’s<br />

Beach as her home was also in close<br />

proximity. Amour’s “Save King’s<br />

Beach” Facebook group appeared in<br />

her feed in September 2021, and she<br />

immediately became an important<br />

figure in the organization.<br />

“I started to research the history of<br />

Stacey’s Brook and how sewage has<br />

flowed into Nahant Bay for over 100<br />

years. I read the 2015 consent decree<br />

between the Town of Swampscott<br />

and the Environmental Protection<br />

Agency and researched meeting<br />

minutes of the Swampscott Select<br />

Board and Board of Health,” Smith<br />

said. “I contacted DEP, EPA, and the<br />

state Department of Public Health and<br />

spoke with experts to learn the laws<br />

and regulations that are supposed to<br />

protect the users of King’s Beach.”<br />

With the help of state Sen. Brendan<br />

Crighton and then-state Rep. Lori<br />

Elrich, Save King’s Beach helped<br />

award Swampscott and Lynn $2.5<br />

million each towards fixing sewer<br />

infrastructure. <strong>2023</strong> had no shortage<br />

of positive developments for the<br />

duo and their supporters. Amour<br />

noted how their efforts influenced<br />

Swampscott to allocate funds for<br />

phase two of sewer upgrades that will<br />

help clean up Stacey’s Brook. Amour<br />

and Smith also formed an official<br />

leadership team in <strong>2023</strong>, made up<br />

of 12 people from both Swampscott<br />

and Lynn. Amour and Smith both<br />

highlighted the raised awareness for<br />

the danger of the adjacent Fisherman’s<br />

Beach as one of their most important<br />

accomplishments of <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

“This past summer, Save King’s<br />

Beach requested the public release<br />

of EPA Consent Decree sewer work<br />

updates. In the latest report, we<br />

saw staggering bacterial counts<br />

at a Fisherman’s Beach outfall —<br />

sometimes 1000x the safe limit for<br />

saltwater swimming,” the pair wrote<br />

in a joint statement.<br />

They are still spreading the word<br />

about the current state of Fisherman’s<br />

Beach, as they feel Swampscott’s<br />

leadership has not done an adequate<br />

job on notifying the community about<br />


the potential danger.<br />

In September, more than 40<br />

members of the organization picketed<br />

on Lynn Shore Drive to raise<br />

awareness. Amour and Smith plan on<br />

additional similar picketing events in<br />

2024.<br />

When it comes to being recognized<br />

as Swampscott’s People of the Year,<br />

both Amour and Smith said that<br />

it validates their belief that they<br />

can make a difference. They also<br />

expressed gratitude that even more<br />

attention will now be focused on<br />

an issue they feel is so important to<br />

Swampscott.<br />

“I want to extend my sincere<br />

gratitude to the hundreds of folks<br />

in our community who’ve gotten<br />

involved through speaking up to<br />

stakeholders, wearing a T-shirt,<br />

sharing your support at Farmer’s<br />

Market, or following our Facebook<br />

group. Your support and positivity<br />

keeps our momentum going and will,<br />

one day soon, result in a swimmable<br />

King’s Beach,” Amour said.

<strong>2023</strong> | 15<br />

We would like to congratulate<br />

the <strong>2023</strong> Essex Media Group<br />

Persons of the Year!<br />

Brendan Crighton<br />

State Senator<br />

3rd Essex District<br />

Bradley Jones<br />

State Representative<br />

20th Middlesex District<br />

Donald Wong<br />

State Representative<br />

9th Essex District<br />

Jenny Armini<br />

State Representative<br />

8th Essex District<br />

Dan Cahill<br />

State Representative<br />

10th Essex District<br />

Pete Capano<br />

State Representative<br />

11th Essex District<br />



Peabody - Henry Breckenridge<br />

Lynn - Magalie Torres-Rowe<br />

Lynnfield - Craig Stone<br />

Marblehead - Jodi-Tatiana Charles<br />

Nahant - Virginia Fiske<br />

Saugus - Gene Decareau<br />

Swampscott - Elizabeth Smith<br />

and Andrea Amour<br />

<strong>2023</strong> ESSEX MEDIA GROUP<br />


Charlie Gaeta, Tyrone Brown, Magnolia Contreras,<br />

Paula Mackin, Kirirath Saing, Ted Smith, Rick Starbard<br />

James M. Cowdell, Executive Director<br />

jcowdell@ediclynn.org • 781-581-9399

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