By Cary Shuman
Friends and former colleagues are paying tribute to Ronald J. Belanger as a dedicated and innovative Chelsea police officer and a popular and revered member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who served with distinction in Rockingham County for 30 years.
Mr. Belanger, who grew up at 17 Spencer Ave. in Chelsea and attended Our Lady of Assumption, Carter Junior High and Chelsea High School, died on July 14, 2017. He was 78.
Ron Belanger Jr. delivered a beautiful and touching eulogy on behalf of his older sister, Donna Belanger Sandford, and twin sister, Rhonda Belanger Dibiase, and the Belanger family during a Mass held Tuesday at Mary Queen of Peace Church in Salem, N.H.
“I just spoke from my heart,” said Ron Jr. “We couldn’t have been more proud of what he accomplished in his life and of having the honor to be his children.”
Ron Jr. recalled his father’s career in the Chelsea Police Department where he was a detective and created the first CPD Narcotics Detective Squad. It was one of the first local narcotics units in the area and an illustration of Mr. Belanger’s keen vision that drug abuse was a growing issue in the nation.
Upon his retirement, Mr. Belanger moved to New Hampshire and began a second career in public service, winning election to the Salem Board of Selectmen and beginning a 30-year tenure as a state representative. Because of his distinguished record and length of service, he sat in the prestigious “No. 1” seat in the Granite State legislature, according to his son, Ron Jr.
“He was a great father,” said Ron Jr. “He loved being a Belanger. He loved being a brother, a father, grandfather, and great grandfather.”
Mr. Belanger was admired for his commitment to public and community service.
“He loved to serve his community in law enforcement in Boston and for the rest of his life in New Hampshire’s Rockingham County,” said Ron Jr. “I was so honored to read all the tributes to him that were in the newspaper this week.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu praised Mr. Belanger’s career in public service.
“Ron was a giant in Salem politics and made immeasurable contributions to his community as a selectman and Planning Board member and to New Hampshire as a state representative,” Sununu said in an Eagle Tribune story this week.
New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse said in a statement to the Eagle Tribune: “Salem is a better place to live because of his years of service in Concord and as a leader in the community. Ron has been a good friend for many years and he will be greatly missed through greater Salem.”
Many friends and associates from Chelsea and New Hampshire paid their respects to Mr. Belanager at a memorial observance Monday at the Douglas and Johnson Funeral Home.
In Chelsea, Mr. Belanger was remembered as a highly respected police officer and a good friend to the city. He often went the extra mile to help a colleague or a resident in need. His shining personality and warmth could be seen in the three beautiful Belanger children, who were popular among their classmates and friends.
City Council President Leo Robinson said that Mr. Belanager was “your classic, friendly Chelsea guy.”
“He was just a great person who helped so many people along the way. I’m not surprised that he chose a life of public service after his retirement in Chelsea. He had a nice, professional manner and I’m sure his constituents loved having him as their representative looking out for their best interests. On behalf of the residents of Chelsea, I extend my condolences to the Belanger family.”
Mr. Belanger was the husband of the late Dorinne (Sealy) Belanger. He will be sadly missed by his three children, Donna Sandford and her husband, Michael, of Saugus, Rhonda Belanger Dibiase of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ronald Belanger Jr. of Haverhill; his brothers, Richard, Raymond, Donald, and Daniel Belanger, and Norma Schroth; his grandchildren, Louis, Kendra, Ari, Chanelle, Ugo, Diandra, Ronald III, Lauren, Leanne, and Kristi Rose; his five great-grandchildren, James, Payton, Lylah, Manii and Desanii, and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions in Mr. Ronald J. Belanger’s name may be made to: Salem Boys and Girls Club, 3 Geremonty Drive, Salem, N.H. 03079.
(Information and quotes from an Eagle Tribune story were used in the compilation of this report).