Cambridge celebrated the career of longtime public servant Mayor Francis H. Duehay '55 Friday night, as the city's political bigwigs past and present gathered to pay tribute to Duehay at his retirement party at M.I.T.'s Walker Memorial.
"I thought we might never see this day...you stepping down from city government when you can still breathe and walk," joked Thomas Mikelson, minister of the First Parish Church in Harvard Square.
Born and raised in Cambridge, Duehay's career spans more than 35 years. After a stint on the School Committee from 1964 to 1972, Duehay has served on the City Council, including terms as mayor in 1980-81, 1985, and finally in 1998-99.
Laughing, Duehay told partygoers of an experience he had on the 1997 campaign trail that made him think seriously about retirement. As he visited with an elderly woman, she said she remembered meeting his "father" when he was running for office more than 30 years ago.
"How is he?" she asked. The politician she remembered, of course, was a younger Duehay.
Duehay has brought to the council an intimate knowledge of the city and has been a voice of reason in the often-contentious arena of municipal politics.
As hundreds of Cambridge politicos milled about in the festive atmosphere that included music, a cash bar and hors d'oeuvres, speakers and party attendees praised Duehay's dedication, noting that he has devoted the great majority of his career to public service in Cambridge.
"Frank Duehay has given of his life, his talent, and his energy to make this city a better place for so many years," said Paul Parravano, the first speaker of the evening.
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