Two seemingly unrelated items in the Dec. 5 edition of the Andover Townsman caught my attention. I say “seemingly unrelated” because, for me, the relationship is strong.
First, Susan McKelliget, in her All Those Years Ago column, reports that on Dec. 8, 1988, Don Robb and Richard Neal, both in their third terms as School Committee members, announced that they would not be seeking re-election for a fourth term.
Then I read a letter from Dennis Forgue, the current chairman of the School Committee, in which he announced that he would not seek re-election to a third term on the committee.
We have known both Don and Dennis over the years. I first met Don during daily morning dog walks at Lower Shawsheen Field more than 20 years ago. At the time, my wife, Jo-Ann, and I were only peripherally involved in the daily life of the town, but as we got to know Don and his wife, Vickie, we were exposed to the mechanics of town government and particularly to the issues that were the fabric of Andover. With no wish to embarrass Don, I would say that he was our mentor in our introduction to Andover on a deeper level, and his example led both of us to become more involved in town affairs in a number of ways over the years.
Dennis and I became acquainted shortly before his first campaign for a seat on the School Committee six years ago, when we both served on the Space Needs Task Force, set up to study the condition of all of the public schools in Andover, both from a physical infrastructure standpoint and as to capacity. This task force led to petitions to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, in its first year of existence, for state assistance in constructing the new Bancroft School, which is now nearing completion. I found Dennis to be a dedicated, nose-to-the-grindstone member of the group, one who did his homework and was very much data-driven, but who was also aware of the personal impacts of decisions.
Both Don’s and Dennis’ service to the town are shining examples of leadership. They believed they had something to offer, but also realized the importance of allowing others to step to the plate and share their views. We will be forever grateful for having known Don and Dennis, and we look forward to continuing our friendship.
Jo-Ann and Tom Deso
81 High St.