GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 29, 2012

Talk of the Times: Passing of Brown's dad stirs local Chamber ties

Talk of the Times with Lookout logo

By ALL HANDS
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The passing of C. Bruce Brown — father of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown — at the age of 75 in Newburyport 10 days ago carries another political tie to a well-known Gloucester and Cape Ann business leader.

Peter Webber, executive vice president of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, had served as a state senator representing the Berkshires from 1980 to 1990, well before moving to Cape Ann and serving as a Chamber leader both as the head of its Rockport division, and now at the agency’s headquarters at 33 Commercial St. And when Webber, then a resident of Great Barrington, first sought the Berkshires’ seat, he faced a challenge in the Republican challenger.

That challenger proved to be none other than C. Bruce Brown, who had divorced Scott Brown’s mother when the current U.S. senator was 1, and moved to the Berkshire County town of Dalton. There, he served on some local town boards and dabbled in Republican politics on the regional level before later moving back to Newburyport and serving a second stint on the Newburyport City Council.

Webber, who had served as a legislative aide to longtime, Stockbridge-based state Sen. Jack Fitzpatrick before seeking his seat when Fitzpatrick decided to retire from the Legislature, not only defeated the elder Brown; he also went on to win a close race against Democrat John Barrett III, and was re-elected four times until he decided not to run for re-election in 1990.

As we’ve noted previously, Webber then backed an upset run for the same seat by a young North Adams woman who started her political career working as a legislative State House aide to Webber. Her name? None other than Jane Swift — who, of course, would win the same Berkshire state Senate seat and advance over the following decade to the governor’s seat.

That’s right, the legislative career of Chamber Vice President Webber began with a primary victory over Scott Brown’s father, and carried through until he stepped aside to open the door for Massachusetts’ first and thus far only female governor. That’s a pretty prestigious run.

Matching grant for Open Door

The Open Door food pantry and human services agency, which serves the needs of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex and Ipswich from its headquarters on Gloucester’s Emerson Avenue, has three more days to double up on any donations it receives before heading into 2013.

Open Door Executive Director Julie LaFontaine said that an anonymous donor has pledged to match any and all donations made to The Open Door by Dec. 31 up to a total of $20,000.

LaFontaine hailed the offer Friday as “very generous.” And it comes at the tail of a holiday season that has seen the agency provide services to growing numbers of needy across the Cape Ann region.

Anyone seeking to donate as part of the matching grant can do so through visiting The Open Door’s website at foodpantry.org.

Honored veteran

The flag at the Veterans’ Center will fly this week in honor of Civil War veteran Peter Nichols. Born Aug. 26, 1841, he entered the U.S. Army on Aug. 18, 1862.

The private served with Company G 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

He was discharged Aug. 7, 1863, and died June 14, 1912.

The flag was requested to fly in his honor by the Office of Veteran’s Services.

Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans’ Services at 978-281-9740.