My Thoughts: Remembering Peter Stamas
Peter Stamas accepting his 1997 Distinguished Democrat Award (also pictured Congressman Marty Meehan, Sam Poulten and Greater Lowell Area Democrats Chair Marie Sweeney)
It was a pleasure to participate in the event at the Whistler House joining many others to honor and remember Peter Stamas. What follows are my prepared remarks.
Remembering Peter Stamas (11.15.2012)
I am pleased to be here to remember and to honor Peter Stamas.
I got to know Peter Stamas in the mid- 1970s. He was a colleague first – then as Headmaster – he was my boss. I had great respect for him. As the representative of the Teachers Advisory Committee I sat across from him expressing teacher concerns – he was always respectful, concerned and understanding. After I retired a year or so later I was much happier sitting beside him as we worked on community projects as activists with the Human Service Corporation and later the Greater Lowell Community Foundation and the Lowell Heritage Partnership.
This was the kind of man who devoted a year of his life to work locally and then nationally and internationally with an important youth church group – GOYA – Greek Orthodox Youth of America. So to note his intense activism with with AMNO – the Acre Model Neighborhood Organization – and its Education Component is no surprise. His commitment to Lowell and the Acre was deep and wide – encompassing the educational, social, cultural and work-life aspects of a city that many saw as poor in reality as well as in mood and perception. He worked with Dr. Patrick Mogan very closely – seeking opportunities to revitalize the city, rebuild the confidence and spirit of the citizenry and to have outsiders respect the city and its place in the history and as as Pat described them – the consequences of industrialization. We and you know that story!
What I know and saw about Peter was his leadership skill, his ability to really listen, to understand then synthesize and distill what he heard and then make things work. Peter was a thinker as well as a doer. He had a passion for his work – both vocational and avocational – and a compassion for people in all situations. His relationships cut across all ages, stations, experiences and positions – with priests and politicians – bankers and coaches – high school kids and university presidents – the erudite and the struggling. And so importantly to me – He respected, appreciated and really worked well with women – I note Sr. Lillian, Kay, Clemmie and Mary B as examples. (Me too)
For over 30 years, Peter guided and inspired Human Services Corporation as the organization worked on urban planning, education, childrens services, the plight of the challenged and respite care. Yet it is the HSC role in the realization of the Lowell National Historical Park that Peter saw as it’s most significant achievement. When HSC was celebrating its 30 year anniversary he was asked about its most important contribution… He said:
“I suppose the achievement that is most spectacular and the one most talked about is the role that we played in keeping the idea of the Urban National Park alive once it had been conceived, and being the catalyst that brought it through to fruition.”
(By the way – knowing just how important Peter was to HSC – We once took a vote that he be President for life!)
HSC had a strong commitment to preserving, protecting and celebrating Lowell’s heritage through its buildings, the surrounding nature and its vast culture. This goal was cultivated and realized though a highly successful Charrette and follow-up activities leading to what we called – “Lowell: the Flowering City.” Peter nurtured the concepts and the activities and then eventually the Lowell Heritage Partnership was created and is now partially funded through the annual distribution from the HSC Fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.
Having a Lowell community foundation was long a goal of HSC and its Board. As far back as 1991 there were strategic planning sessions with Peter spearheading years of searching and researching the various community foundation concepts and actual organizations. Speakers came to Lowell from Connecticut and elsewhere… we traveled as well – learning about Worcester and Lawrence … we read the literature and the legislation. Others saw Lowell as fertile ground – Lawrence wanted us to join them! Peter halted that and met with Lowell movers and shakers about the – “community foundation for Lowell” – concept and what was need, what support was vital. Then with people like Dick Donahue and George Duncan on board with the community foundation concept… the Greater Lowell Community Foundation was born… the endowments were started and grew… Peter was a founding member, a trustee and for a while the Treasurer. I had a vested interest thru’ my role as an HSC board member with Peter as our leader .. I was proud to chair the distribution committee for many years and where I still serve. The strength of Peter’s commitment and his determination to have the Lowell High scholarship money as part of the GLCF funds – where those funds and the foundation corpus could grow – was critical to the current success of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.
Let me say, that Peter Stamas was and remains a role model for me; he was a mentor and an inspiration for a certain style community activism that I adopted and that I still espouse.
When back in 1997, I nominated him to be honored as a Distinguished Democrat it was not only because he was a good and committed Democrat – it was his dedication to people and to doing his part to bettering their quality of life that tipped the scales. He was humble in his acceptance. He might have been a Harvard-man but in substance he was molded by his Bartlett School days, his Lowell High experience – growing up in Lowell – his faith and his family.
(An aside: I had the opportunity to talk with Mike Dukakis two weeks ago – I told him about this event tonight. He noted his respect for Peter – a good guy , a smart guy – that he appointed to his innovative Judicial Advisory committee – Peter by the way – wasn’t sure he as a non lawyer – was the right guy to appoint. As Dukakis noted , he was a very valuable adviser!)
Let me finish with this –
For the nearly 30 years that I knew Peter Stamas I saw a leader who played a pivitol role on the Lowell scene. A leader – tho’ – who was always part of a team! Back in the late 60s – early 70s – Pat Mogan and Peter were a team… when Peter took over as Headmaster at Lowell High School in a time of transition, expansion and changing student population – Peter assembled and lead a team of educators, staff and partners to get the job done… in the 80s at Human Services it was always a team – Peter, Kay, Lillian, Clemmie, Anne, George, Mary, Paul… then at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation the Trustees, donors, distribution committee – a team effort…. and amid all this there was Peter Stamas calling the plays –
Peter Stamas was a Lowell Treasure!
Peter Stamas was my friend – I honor him and I miss him .
2 Responses to My Thoughts: Remembering Peter Stamas
Eloquent as always, Marie … and your thoughtful remarks are so touching in light of your close relationship with Mr. Stamas. Loved you in Paul’s video of 20 years ago! I’m fast becoming a fan.
[…] film, 13 minutes long, was shown on November 15, 2012 at the “Remembering Peter Stamas” program at the Whistler House. It is well worth watching, both to get the real story behind the founding of […]