Tewksbury to honor Warren Carey
By Joyce Tsai, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: 02/28/2011 07:00:35 AM EST
Longtime Tewksbury activist Warren Carey, shown with his wife, Liz, among photos of their grandchildren, will be the subject of a upcoming St. Patty's Day Breakfast & Roast on March 19. SUN / David H. Brow
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TEWKSBURY -- It's hard to remember a time when Warren Carey wasn't a stalwart of Tewksbury town politics.
He had humble beginnings, working for the town's library while in eighth grade -- and again after high-school graduation as a worker in the town Water Department in 1948, working for $1 a hour.
And over the decades, he climbed his way to political prominence, in the mid-1990s as chairman of the town's Democratic Committee, a position he holds today. He also served as the town's tax collector and treasurer for 16 years before retiring in 2002. He has been the town's historian for the past eight or nine years, too.
And most of all, he can be a political "rainmaker" when it comes to drumming up support for local candidates. His backing of candidates can be an important blessing in town politics, he says.
Carey is known for being "a character," too, said another longtime politico, Jerry Selissen. Carey is ever famous for being outspoken, opinionated and always passionate.
"My personal opinion is that some people either love him or hate him," Selissen said. "I think people have a feeling one way or another about Warren."
That's why Carey, 75, will add another laurel of distinction as this year's "guest of honor" at the upcoming Friends of the Tewksbury Patriotic Activities Committee's St. Patty's Day Breakfast and Roast.
"He's an excellent target," said Selissen, who is president of the Friends of the Tewksbury Patriotic Activities Committee, adding that he's a big Warren Carey fan: "Warren is a great guy who's done a lot for the community."
Carey, by his own admission, as a young man "was the type of person who would stand up and disagree -- and not give a crap what they were saying." That kind of attitude was an asset when he was chosen in the early 1960s to speak on behalf of town workers as the employees' representative, despite not being an employee himself at the time, he said.
His strong, tell-it-like-I-see-it personality probably comes from growing up in a family of 15 children, said Carey, whose wife, Liz, was town clerk for more than 20 years. Both are active in the community and town politics.
"And let me tell you, if you want to get your oar in the water, you can't just sit at the table and say nothing," he said. "You had to speak up so people at the big table could hear you."
Competition could be stiff and the ribbing endless in his family, if you didn't hold your own, he admits. A case in point: Carey remembers how the fear of being upstaged by siblings steeled his resolve to win his eighth-grade Gettyburg Address oratory contest -- one of his first forays into public speaking. (He was, in fact, the second of a long line of Careys who won the contest, he said, in near annual succession.)
Carey also said his love of politics dates back to helping his father, also a longtime politico, campaign for Harry Truman during the 1948 presidential election.
Truman's victory led to a stunning upset and made its mark on Carey's mind, who turned 13 that Election Day.
It was a big win -- "and it was from then on I kind of caught the bug," Carey said.
Town Crier Editor Steve Bjork will serve as the roast's moderator. Roasters include Selissen, Sun Editor Jim Campanini and Tewksbury Funeral Home owner Joel Deputat, who will deliver "a eulogy for Carey."
Selissen added: "I've always found Warren to be honest to a fault and I've also found Warren to have a well-hidden sense of humor."
"I consider myself a kind of kidding-around person," Carey said. And he acknowledged in his vintage tell-it-like-it-is style: "Every time someone kids around about something, there's a bit of truth to it."
The event will be held from 8-11 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, at the VFW Hall at 87 Vernon St. Tickets are $10.
Tickets are available from Jerry Selissen at 978-500-1662 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 978-500-1662 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 978-500-1662 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or at the Town Clerk's Office or from the veterans agent.