HANSON — Former State Representative and Town Moderator Charles W. Mann is being remembered by friends and colleagues on both sides of the political isle as an effective and dedicated public servant.
Mann, 81, died Friday, Aug. 12 after a long illness. [ See obituary, page 13]
The House of Representatives will be adjourning in Mann’s honor on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the request of state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury.
“After being elected [state representative] he would meet with the Democratic Town Committees and others that had not supported him — he was adamant that campaign ended after election night and that he was the elected official for every constituent of the district — supporter or not,” said his daughter, Karen Barry. “Dad was known as a spokesman for our agriculture industry, especially for our cranberry growers.
Mann’s own father had been a vice president of sales for Ocean Spray, credited with the introduction of the company’s juice products.
“Legislatively he worked extremely hard for farmers and the conservation of woodlands,” Barry said, noting that, “On a lighter note [Mann] was named “Best Dressed” in the Legislature on more than one occasion.”
She said it has been wonderful to talk to people who have reminded the family of things her father had done.
Born in Pittsfield, Mann lived most of his life in Hanson. His mother had encouraged him as he began his life in public service, beginning with the Hanson School Committee. The dedicated Republican later served eight terms as a state representative in the 6th Plymouth District — Hanson, Pembroke, Duxbury and parts of Marshfield. While in the General Court, he served on the Ways and Means, Personnel and Administration and Banks and Banking committees.
He also served as deputy sheriff of Plymouth County and was an active member of the Hanson Republican Town Committee, of which he was chairman. Mann also volunteered with the W-H Citizen’s Scholarship Foundation — Little League, and the Hanson Kiwanis Club, serving as president for both; advisor to the Hanover Hi-Y Club and as director of the Squanto Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
For some residents, Mann’s public service was their first introduction to him.
“Charlie introduced me to Hanson town government when he appointed me to the Finance Committee,” current Town Moderator Sean Kealy said. “Over the years he became a friend and mentor. I was honored when he first suggested that I run for moderator after he decided to step down; in fact at every Town Meeting I continue to ask myself and others, ‘What would Charlie do here?’”
Board of Health Chairman Arlene Dias, recalled helping her parents campaign for Mann when she was about nine or 10 years old.
“The first political event that I ever went to was a Charlie Mann thing that my parents took me to,” Democrat Dias recalled with a smile about her staunch Republican parents. “They had me handing out pamphlets. I know it was some kind of a fundraiser and I always meant to ask him what office he was running for … I think it was the late ’50s or early ’60s.”
Mann had won election to the Hanson School Committee in 1963, according to the Republican Town Committee, which honored Mann for his five decades of public service on his retirement as town moderator. He was first elected to the General Court in 1966 for two terms, returning for three more in 1970.
Kealy is among many in Hanson official circles who feel they have lost a friend as well as a colleague.
“We have lost a great public servant and I am going to miss him very much,” he said.
For other close friends in Hanson Town Hall, Mann’s loss was too difficult for them to offer comment, but Selectman Bruce Young offered a salute to Mann’s legacy.
“Charlie was an excellent legislator, serving the town of Hanson very honorably as our state representative for many years, and his legacy as our town moderator for 20 years, acting fairly and impartially on all issues to come before Town Meeting,” Selectman Bruce Young stated. “He set a standard for all those who hold that office in the future and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman and former Selectman David Soper agreed.
“He was a civic leader who truly made a difference in our community and region,” Soper said. “He knew how to work with people and get things done. He was friend a mentor and all-around a good guy.”
Cutler also lauded his predecessor.
“Charlie Mann served the town of Hanson, and our entire Commonwealth, for many years with distinction and dedication,” said state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, who now represents the 6th Plymouth District.” He was a true public servant who brought civility and dignity to the political process.”
Cutler said the loss will be felt by many Hanson residents on a personal as well as professional level and expressed his appreciation to the Mann family for sharing him with the community all these years, offering sympathy for his loss.
“Mr. Mann was a legislator, a moderator, a constable, but most of all a gentleman,” Cutler said. “I will miss hearing his stories, his sense of humor and his plain-spoken wisdom.”
In 1970, Mann joined Governor Frank Sargent’s administration as Legislative Secretary, returning to the House of Representatives in 1980 and served seven terms, including four in leadership as the Republican Whip. In 1992 he was elected in a write-in campaign for Hanson Town Moderator.
Mann’s first legislative action was to correct the application process to receive welfare, Barry said.
“Too often resources were limited and he was concerned that people of need would not get the assistance they need,” she said. “When he entered the legislature welfare benefits were administered through your local town hall.”
In 1987-89 was instrumental in the building of Duxbury’s Town Pier, Construction of the Powder Point Bridge and dredging of Duxbury Harbor. He worked closely with Duxbury Harbor Master Don Bears.