Appreciation: Former Chelsea Receiver Harry Spence

Chelsea city officials and residents are paying tribute to Harry Spence, who became the state-appointed receiver in 1991 and helped the city out of dire financial difficulties.

Mr. Spence, who excelled at helping organizations large and small through difficult situations, died on Aug. 15. He was 74.

Mr. Spence devoted much of his life to public service, and putting Chelsea on the road to financial recovery, was an accomplishment of which long-time residents remain appreciative.

Through Mr. Spence doing his job so exceptionally well, it set the stage for the transition of Chelsea into a new governmental structure. Later in the 1990s, Guy Santagate became the city manager and provided the outstanding leadership that gave Chelsea residents the feeling of confidence that the city was being well managed and poised for a bright future. Following Mr. Santagate’s service, Jay Ash became the city manager and Chelsea’s resurgence was complete, with developers, business owners, and new residents wanting to be a part of the Chelsea success story.

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson first Mr. Spence when he became the receiver for the Boston Housing Authority.

“Charles Lee Disposal had the contract with the BHA and Donald Lee, my brother, Danny, and I worked closely with Mr. Spence,” said Robinson. “He always had the best interests of the residents in mind. When he came to Chelsea, he was always professional and accessible to city leaders. We, in Chelsea, certainly appreciate all they he did to help us during a challenging time in the history of the city. My thoughts are with his family in this time of sadness.”

Long-time School Committee member Rosemarie Carlisle also remembers Mr. Spence’s vital role in helping Chelsea get back on track.

“I was very sad to hear the news of his passing,” said Carlisle. “He was a wonderful person and his did an excellent job taking care of Chelsea during receivership. The receivership was a difficult time for the City of Chelsea and its residents at that time. He came in and straightened things out for us. When he left, everything was in place for the city to move on and become a better Chelsea.

“He worked so professionally with the School Committee and city officials,” said Carlisle. “It was a sad day when he left Chelsea, but today is an even sadder day that he passed away. I will miss him.”

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