Longtime City Clerk To Retire This Month

Cambridge City Clerk D. Margaret Drury plans to retire in February after serving in the position for 20 years.

In her role as clerk, Drury dealt mostly with commonplace record-keeping for the city, but she once had a chance to make history.

In 2004, Drury officiated at the first legal same-sex marriage in the country. At midnight on the day same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, 10,000 people gathered in front of Cambridge City Hall to celebrate, Drury said.

“All day long at City Hall, there were marriages,” she said. “Marriage equality groups were there with a wedding cake from Rosie’s [Bakery] and giving out pink carnations.”

“I was mayor during the gay marriage stuff, so I saw how much it meant to her,” former Mayor Michael A. Sullivan said. “I was very proud of the way she handled it, the way she made sure it would go well. And you could see it in her face. You could really see the brightness in her eye, the lilt in her voice.”

Drury grew up in Randolph, Mass., and graduated from Suffolk Law School before she started working for the city in 1982.

When the City Council made the controversial decision to not renew the contract of her predecessor as city clerk, Joseph E. Connarton, she applied for the job.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll try this for a couple of months.’ And that was in 1992, and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

City Councillor E. Denise Simmons developed a relationship with Drury over their mutual “love of parliamentary procedure,” Simmons said. Simmons was interested in the procedural workings of the Council, and Drury was an expert. “The Council does its work as well as it does because of Margaret and her experience and attention to detail.”

Robert Winters, who teaches at the Harvard Extension School and writes an online journal about Cambridge politics, has called on Drury’s services many times.

“She’s been a great help,” he said. Winters once asked Drury to find records of all the people who had been city clerk since the city’s founding in 1632, a chore he said was the hardest task he ever asked of her.

At the Council meeting on Monday, he joked with Drury about pulling a bunch of records in her last month as clerk, but decided to save it for her successor.

“She’s a wonderful, wonderful person,” Councillor Craig A. Kelley said. “We will be sad to see her go.”

—Staff writer Maya S. Jonas-Silver can be reached at