Theodore Pelosi Jr. led the city during the late 1980s and early 1990s — challenging times when the Police Department came under heavy scrutiny because the chief's son, a detective with the force, was charged in a regional drug ring.
During his time as mayor, Pelosi also faced financial problems that hit Haverhill hard, with the new Hale Hospital falling into deep debt and the city searching for ways to keep its budget balanced.
But through it all, Pelosi was strong and did the best he could for Haverhill, his political colleagues said.
Pelosi died early yesterday morning at Merrimack Valley Hospital after a brief bout with cancer. He was 85.
Pelosi was mayor for six years and City Council president for 20 years before that. He was mayor from 1988 to 1993.
"He was an honest, trustworthy man who worked hard for the city," said City Councilor William Macek, who served on the council when Pelosi was president. "He was a teacher and a mentor to me who was respectful of everyone. You couldn't ask for a better mayor. He was a trustworthy and dependable individual."
"He would never just shoot down ideas," said Councilor Robert Scatamacchia, who served on the council with Pelosi from 1980 to 1983. "He would always work with us to find solutions instead."
Calling hours will be at Farmer and Sons funeral home in Bradford today from 4 to 7:30 p.m. The funeral will be Thursday at Sacred Hearts Church.
Pelosi's son, Francis Pelosi, said the things his father cared about most were his family and the city.
"He always put the city ahead of his political career," Francis Pelosi said. "Even if it was an unpopular decision among the citizens, he always did what he thought was best for the City of Haverhill."
Pelosi was asked several times to consider running for state office, according to his son. Instead, he chose to stay in Haverhill and continue working with the city he lived in his entire life.
Mayor James Fiorentini is serving a record fifth term as Haverhill mayor. Before that, Pelosi served one of the longest terms as the city's mayor. He and William Ryan both had three two-year terms, and James Rurak had the second-longest run with four terms in the corner office. Pelosi defeated Ryan in the 1987 mayoral election. Rurak beat Pelosi in the 1993 campaign.
"It was a friendly rivalry," Ryan said yesterday of his mayoral campaigns against Pelosi. "We were always respectful of each other. The city will be a lesser place without his guidance and his presence."
Vincent Ouellette, the director of human services for the city, was hired by Pelosi when he was mayor.
"He was just an incredible person," Ouellette said. "He always tried to do the right thing and I have tremendous respect for the man."
Pelosi continued to serve the city after his time as mayor. He was a board member on the Haverhill Historical Commission and was the first chairperson of the Bradford Common Historic District Commission.
Fiorentini issued a written statement about Pelosi yesterday.
"Ted was always available whenever I needed advice," Fiorentini wrote. "He came to see me frequently, and we spoke often. His advice on running the city was invaluable. I last saw him at the inauguration (in January), and I was honored that he attended."
Perhaps Pelosi's greatest mayoral challenge came in 1987, when Michael Fasulo, the son of then-police Chief Daniel Fasulo, was charged in a regional cocaine ring. The younger Fasulo was a detective on the police force. That led to the city hiring a former state trooper to study the Police Department, exposing management and morale problems that led to changes.
Pelosi died just after midnight on Tuesday morning. The timing might have been fitting, his son said.
"He was the consummate politician right to the very end," Francis Pelosi said. "He even died on an election day."