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Send Us Your Memories of Stoneham Town Clerk John Hanright

Town Clerk John Hanright passed away on Monday.

Longtime John Hanright passed away Monday night at an area hospital.

As we gather more information about Hanright's passing, we'd like you to share with us and our readers your memories about the town clerk.

You can post a comment in the comments section below or email Stoneham Patch Editor Mark Ouellette at mark.ouellette@patch.com.

Tuesday morning, we received this letter from Stoneham Fire Chief Joseph Rolli recalling his experiences with Hanright:

Members of the were saddened Monday morning as news came to the firehouse of the passing of Town Clerk John Hanright. John Hanright was a true friend to the Firefighters of Stoneham. A fire buff in every sense of the word, John would engage with Firefighters with what was going on, how they were doing, etc.

John would listen to his scanner like a teenager listens to their ipod.  Many times when we would converse John would ask me, “What did Quincy have last night?” or “Did Melrose just get a new piece of apparatus?” I will humbly admit that John knew more about what was going on with Fire Departments outside of Stoneham than me.

I would often visit John in his office to shoot the breeze about the Fire Department, the Town, and many other issues. He was a true Townie in every sense of the word. At first I would visit his office when I had a couple of minutes to waste and soon found out if I was going to his office I better have an hour to waste. He was joy to talk to and boy could he talk.

If you looked up Town Clerk in the dictionary, it should just say John Hanright. A robust man who did nothing but serve the citizens and help as many people out as possible.

It is customary for the Fire Department to lower its flag at half staff for active and retired members of the Fire Department who have passed on. Many Firefighters came to me when learned of John’s passing and asked if we could lower it for the first time for a non-member of the Fire Department. We all agreed John was more than the Town Clerk; he was a member of the Fire Department. It felt like John was every member of the Fire Departments older brother. offering advice, support and loyalty.

I, along with the member of the Fire Department are emotionally hurt to lose John Hanright, but we all know how lucky we were to have John as part of us. Godspeed to you our friend, we miss you already.

— Chief Joseph W. Rolli

Danielle Masterson (Editor) July 12, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Long before I came to Patch, I was the reporter and editor of the Stoneham Sun newspaper. I first met John Hanright in 2000, when I was a cub reporter who had no idea what the Town Clerk did. And a selectmen's meeting? What was that? John invited me into his office and sat down with me, explaining all the ins and outs of a Town Hall. For five years, John and I were friends, not just people who worked together as reporter/source. We spent many an election night together, filling out spreadsheets and counting up votes. We shared one very important thing in common - a love of Stoneham and a dedication to Stoneham Fire. As Chief Rolli said, it is more than fitting that SFD lower the flag for John. He was their biggest supporter and one of their best friends. As I reflect on John's life this morning, and our relationship, I will always remember sitting in Muriel Doherty's office with him on Friday mornings. It was our ritual, and one that was one of my favorites in Stoneham. When I got married, it was important to me that John give me my marriage license, even though I wasn't getting married in Stoneham. John Hanright was a special man, one who touched the lives of so many in Stoneham and surrounding towns. He will be missed by many, including this former Stoneham reporter.
Pam Carakatsane July 12, 2011 at 03:39 PM
The moment Johh heard that I was appointed Town Clerk in 2004 he called me and offered to help me whenever I needed. I called upon John for his advice and knowledge several times over the years and he never hesitated to help. This past May I called John again and even though it was during his busy period he immediatley helped me. That is the John that I know; always willing to help and to help from the heart. John was an excellent Town Clerk and a kind and caring man who will be missed many. Pam Carakatsane, Town Clerk, Ipswich, MA
Deborah L. Pellegri July 12, 2011 at 03:52 PM
I was shocked to hear of John's passing. As I look back, I will always remember how helpful and professional he was. I'm happy that I had the opportunity to have some time with him at our last conference and enjoyed seeing how excited he was on the birth of his grandchild. The pictures were great..he was a typical and loving grandfather! He was a friend and I will miss him. To his family, I offer my deepest sympathy. Rest In Peace John. Deborah L. Pellegri, CMC Franklin Town Clerk
Jeremy P Gillis July 12, 2011 at 04:09 PM
We have lost one of our most helpful, happy and considerate members of the Town Clerk family. My family is orginally from Stoneham, and John and I spent a lot of time talking about the town and people that we knew in common. I will never forget the help he gave me to ensure my grandfather's grave always had a flag come Memorial Day. If I ever needed help or a question answered, a phone call to John was all it took. I, and the rest of his Town Clerk family, will miss him dearly. May the Road Rise Up To Meet You, John. Jeremy P Gillis, CMC Easton Town Clerk
Cheryl Mooney July 12, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Town Clerks across Massachusetts were deeply saddened yesterday after hearing about the loss of a truly wonderful person. John had a way about him that made everyone love him. I am sure the residents of Stoneham are missing him as much as we are. Janie and family - my sincere condolences on the loss of your husband. Cheryl Mooney, Stoughton Town Clerk and former Reading Town Clerk
Amy Warfield July 12, 2011 at 06:41 PM
We will all miss John. As a new clerk, I benefited from his wisdom, wit and experience. My condolences to his family. Amy E. Warfield, Burlington Town Clerk
Barbara Redmond July 12, 2011 at 06:49 PM
John was a wonderful neighbor and an asset to the town of Stoneham. I will miss him.
Jeanne E. Craigie July 12, 2011 at 07:02 PM
We are deeply saddened by the passsing of our lifelong friend. His recollection of the history and goings on in the Town were incredible. His loyalty, kindness, and jovial manner made him perfect for the job he chose within our Town, a true gentleman.Personally, I admired and benefited from his knowledge of Public Office Election Laws and campaigning.He was a wonderful mentor and a dedicated public servant! He never said "No" to any request , he spent many hours listening to people and helped them navigate a system that is sometimes not easy! May you have the wind at your back and soar with the Angels dear friend, we shall miss your smile and untiring devotion to Stoneham. As Always, Jeanne and Paul Craigie
Theresa Garaffo July 12, 2011 at 07:16 PM
So sad to hear the news of Johns passing, he was a great man and will be missed!! Rest In Peace John. Sincerely Theresa Garaffo and Family
Mary Todd July 12, 2011 at 08:45 PM
The town of Stoneham suffered a great loss yesterday with the passing of John Hanright. I feel as if a part of Stoneham's heart and soul went with him. He was kind, generous, and a good friend. In 2009 the library was holding a fundraiser to help purchase books...it was a little murder mystery melodrama and I asked John and other town officials to play the part of a suspect. John agreed without hesitation. One of my fondest memories of John is seeing him that night, adorned with a huge, yellow polka-dotted clown tie and stealing the show. His laugh was infectious, his smile irresistible and he was generous with both. Always encouraging and supportive, there was no one better than John when you needed help with a problem. It has been one of my life's privileges to have known John and I will be forever grateful for that. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. He will be missed by all of us. Mary Todd, Stoneham Public Library Director
Jane Chew July 12, 2011 at 09:06 PM
John was such a positive influence in the tight knit community of City and Town Clerks as I'm sure he was everywhere else in his life. My condolences to his family, friends, and office on the loss of such a wonderful guy. He will always be remembered fondly. Jane Chew, Retired Town Clerk, Burlington, MA
Stephen Rotondi July 12, 2011 at 09:07 PM
I first met John in 1974/1975 as a fellow member of Stoneham's 250th Anniversary Committee. His love of Stoneham and its history was quite evident. We marched in many a parade together dressed in our minuteman uniforms with his 2 young sons in tow. He was a faithful public servant and Stoneham will miss him. My deepest sympathies to his family. Stephen Rotondi
Katelyn Welch July 12, 2011 at 09:13 PM
I have never met someone so passionate about his job and the town of Stoneham. I turned 18 and immediately started working town meetings and elections. I was amazed to see how positively people would speak of him, especially since he was a man in politics. He touched so many hearts through the years and I was blessed to be to call him my uncle. He's going to be missed dearly by his family and after reading these comments I realized this loss will be felt through the whole town.
David C. Maurer July 12, 2011 at 09:32 PM
John Hanright was one of the nicest persons I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was genuine in his dealings with people and had a passion for the people of Stoneham. John always put the best interest of the people of Stoneham first. My family and I give our best regards to John family. John was a true gentleman and he will be greatly missed. David C. Maurer, VC Stoneham School Committee
Tara M. Ward July 13, 2011 at 02:21 AM
Just having spent time with John at the Sea Crest conference in Falmouth in June, he boasted about his new grandchild. We had that in common as I await the birth of my first grandchild. His smile was contagious, his laugh infectious, his friendship something to treasure. His family was all he talked about. How happy he was, how happy they made him. He was a gentle man and a gentlemen in every way. His presence will be sorely missed at every turn. To his family and close friends, I ask God to give you shock absorbers to help you through these trying days. May the Angels in Heaven watch over John and may God grant him eternal rest. Tara M. Ward, Ashland Town Clerk President of the Middlesex City & Town Clerk's Association
Marianne Staples July 13, 2011 at 09:20 AM
John and I became Town Clerk's the same year. We went to classes together to become Certified Municipal Clerks and quickly became friends. John was one of the most down to earth and knowledgeable peiple I have ever met. He was quick with a smile and you knew sometihing funny was going to come out of his mouth by the twinkle in his eye. His wife Janie was the love of his life and he was so proud of the recent birth of his grandchild and it was all he talked about. The tight knit community of Town and City Clerk's are saddened by our great loss. I am honored to have known John and I will miss him dearly. May God be with him in eternal peace and may God give strength to Janie and his family during this difficult time. Marianne Staples, CMMC Blackstone Town Clerk
Paul Rotondi July 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM
First and foremost, the Town of Stoneham owes John a debt of gratitude for his thirty-eight years of service to the Town. John served 14 years as Town Clerk and 24 years as an elected member of the Board of Assessors. Of the 715 citizens who have served Stoneham in elected office since 1725, only six have served a greater time than John. Personally, I have known John for over fifty years and his priorities never changed family, friends and Stoneham. John had a great sense of humor and loved to tease. Who hasn’t been a target of one of his “zings”, said with a straight face and twinkle in his eye. As it seems to be with long time friends, our favorite memories seem to be our most recent memories. My fondest memory of John is sitting down with him and talking about the history of Stoneham, what it was, what it is and what it can be. The picture, taken at the library Mystery Night, captures the John’s personality and shows that great smile. Paul Rotondi
Catherine Flanagan Stover July 13, 2011 at 01:45 PM
I have lost a "brother" and dear friend. John and I shared the same birthday. We were "twins" by different mothers. There will be an unfillable void in the New England Clerks' family. I have never known a man more dedicated and devoted to his community and family than John Hanright. He and his darling wife Janie doted on their son John, his wife Nancy, their precious baby granddaughter Alexis Christine, and their adopted granddaughter Mia. As grievous the loss of John is to the New England clerks, the loss of John to his wonderful family is so much greater. Our love and prayers will always be theirs. Catherine Flanagan Stover, MMC, CMMC Nantucket Town & County Clerk
rita maffeo manuel July 13, 2011 at 01:59 PM
There aren't enough words one could say about John Hanright. He was the Salt of the Earth. John was always smiling and truly helped everyone. Our sincerest sympathy goes out to his family. Rita and Ed Manuel
Joyce A. Bradshaw July 14, 2011 at 12:14 AM
The world has lost a truly great man whose devotion to his beloved Stoneham and his esteem for the position of Town Clerk was only surpassed by his love for Janie and his family. John was always there to offer his expertise and lend a hand to help us all. I remember John driving to North Andover as I anxiously prepared for a 3,000+ Special Town Meeting with all his stamps and supplies that would help me as he knew I was "too busy" to come and pick them up. All the conferences and planning meetings for the New England Clerk's Asociation and our Massachusetts Town Clerk's Conferences you always look to find John and share all the latest news and laughter. John was a dear friend and colleague and will always be in our memories and hearts. Joyce Bradshaw,CMMC, Town Clerk North Andover
Jodi October 11, 2011 at 03:41 AM
Town clerk John Hanright was part of a very special day for me, as he married my husband and I earlier this year. I was so nervous that I burst into tears during the ceremony, but John was so kind to us. He just made it an even MORE special day for us than it already was. He spent a great deal of time chatting with us afterward as well...he wasn't rushed at all but took the time to get to know us. He really added to the feeling that Stoneham is more than a town, it's a community. He really went out of his way for us, and the both of us are so appreciative. We just found out that he passed, and we are both heartbroken. Thank you, John. Although we only met you briefly you really made your mark on us and we will remember you.

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