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Former Pittsfield Mayor Doyle Remembered By City, Family

A white man in a red tie and suit jacket stands by an American flag
The Doyle Family
Gerry Doyle

Civic leaders and family of former Pittsfield, Massachusetts Mayor Gerry Doyle are sharing remembrances after his death on Sunday.

City council president Peter Marchetti opened Tuesday’s meeting with a moment of silence for Doyle, who died at the age of 62. A cause of death was not specified.

“On behalf of Mayor Tyer and the entire city council and the city of Pittsfield, send condolences to his family,” said Marchetti.

Doyle, who also sat on the city council, served two terms as the city’s 35th mayor from 1998 to 2002, when Pittsfield still had two-year terms.

Marchetti, who knew Doyle personally and professionally, described him as hard-working and forceful in his beliefs. He said Doyle’s legacy would likely be his efforts to hold General Electric responsible for decades of polluting the Housatonic River throughout the mid-20th Century.

“I know there’s various different people with a difference of opinions, but I think the GE settlement and having the GE economic fund was a step in the right direction for a city that had just lost its major employer," Marchetti told WAMC.

General Electric’s consent decree to clean up the river in Pittsfield was finalized in 2000.

“Obviously one of the most visible accomplishments was the agreement with GE as it relates to the consent decree and the cleanup and ultimate revitalization of the GE site in Pittsfield," said Tom Murphy. "However, I think there were other accomplishments that Gerry took a lot of pride in. And those were the accomplishments that helped the guy on the street, if you will.”

Murphy, Doyle’s cousin, spoke to WAMC on behalf of the family.

“Didn’t matter if the issue was large or small, but being able to help people in any possible way that he could – I think those are the things that really were part of his core and what he did for people," Murphy told WAMC. "It was just something he did time and time again, didn’t even think twice about it.”

Murphy worked as the city’s director of community development in Doyle’s administration.

“I know he was very proud of the efforts that took place in the downtown area," said Murphy. "Those were important to him. And it made a tremendous amount of difference and really set the table for the years to follow his administration, and the revitalization efforts with the England Brothers building being taken down and rebuilt, and the Colonial Theatre, and then other improvements on North Street which were tremendously important to the city.”

Doyle’s second term saw a divisive and ultimately fruitless attempt to build a new baseball stadium in Pittsfield, as well as issues with the city’s health insurance that were investigated by state – leading to Massachusetts taking charge of Pittsfield’s finances. Despite that, Murphy says Doyle didn’t leave office with any regrets.

“He knew that not everybody was going to agree with everything," Murphy told WAMC. "He recognized that that was sort of part of the role. It was difficult, because he just had an impact on so many people, but he realized he just couldn’t please everybody and you had to just continue on and stay true to your mission, your objectives, and your principles, and do the best you could for the city.”

Doyle is survived by his wife Beth, his son Michael, two grandchildren, two sisters and a brother, and his mother Beverly.

“The first thing you’d know about Gerry is he took an interest in anybody and everybody he ever met," said Murphy. "He wanted to know about the person as a person and that was important to him. He just loved people, loved to interact, loved to socialize, and he just was one of those guys who everyone was a friend, and he was a friend to everyone.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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