It was truly the end of an era as Peter Gill presided over his last council meeting Tuesday night. It is the end of Peter’s successful four-year tenure as the leader of the nine-member board. We remember four years ago when Peter decided to challenge a popular incumbent in attorney Jeffrey Turco, who brought his own style to the highest-elected position in the town. Peter prevailed in a close, hard-fought election and the two squared off again in an exciting rematch that Peter won two years later.
Peter has done an excellent job unifying the Council and getting everyone in the town to work together to make Winthrop a better place. His innovative idea of starting a town parks committee worked better than even Peter himself could have imagined. Pico Park was the first to be renovated and it became an instant sensation with parents and children in that neighborhood. Other parks followed and Winthrop has benefited from Gill’s plan to transform our recreational spaces into something special.
The re-developments of the former Winthrop Hospital site, the Temple Tifereth Israel property, and the former Dalrymple School all happened with Gill at the helm of the Council and a pro-active town manager in James McKenna, who had already demonstrated his exceptional leadership in other projects and innovations at Town Hall. The Winthrop Cultural Center at the site of the former E.B. Newton School is another town success story.
Peter also understood that Winthrop needed a new, comprehensive, state-of-the-art high school facility and was among the project’s earliest and strongest supporters. Though his children had attended and thrived at the “old” Winthrop High School, Peter understood that the building was outdated and that change was needed in a big way.
But the thing we have admired most about Peter during his reign as president was that he was quick to credit others for the town’s resurgence during the Gill-McKenna administration. In a story in this week’s Sun-Transcript, Peter praises the School Building Assistance Committee — led by Marylou Osborne and David Dockendorf — for their many hours of volunteer service to the town and its great work that produced the fantastic building that is rising in our town and will be ready for the next school year.
There wasn’t an aspect of town life that Peter didn’t take pride in. He’s been especially supportive of our town’s athletic teams for years. His daughter Lisa Gill Howard, joined with Lisa Monteleone Ferrara and Christine Bruce and Laurie Gill in bringing Winthrop a state softball championship? And how proud Peter was when Lisa became the starting second baseman as a freshman in the Division 1 Boston College softball program.
And we’re sure we’ll be seeing Peter rooting on the Winthrop Lady Bulldogs hockey team this season, especially his granddaughter, star goaltender Gretchen Howard.
Peter Gill may be stepping down from the town’s most important and prestigious position in town government, but the positive imprint he left on this town will be felt for years to come.
Incoming Council President Robert Driscoll has big shoes to fill — and we’re sure he will carry on Peter’s legacy of superb leadership. And we’re also sure Peter will be on call if Bob needs him for some consultation.
Thank you, Peter Gill, for all that you and your family have given to our town. You are a true legend in this town’s history.