Well into the twilight of his life, George Colella remained one of the best – known and most highly respected men in this city.
His extraordinary political life over the course of more than 50 years was the stuff of legend and it will always be so.
It is a rare man indeed whose entire political life became a living devotion to the city he served and which he loved.
George Colella’s death at 83 over the weekend marks a seminal moment in the city’s long history.
It marks the end of a long and fruitful life spent at city hall – and spent in such a way – that the mark he leaves outdoes everything that has come before in this city.
He was the strongest of mayors.
He ruled with an iron fist.
It was his way or no way unless a case could be made by those opposed to him that he needed to compromise as a matter of fact.
And then he would compromise.
Loyalty above all else was everything to him.
His friends who supported him throughout his political career were indeed friends to the end.
Even those who moved away remained his strong supporters whenever he was up for re-election.
If he gave you his word, it was as a good as a signed contract could ever be.
His word was an unbreakable bond.
During his time at city hall, he never went back on his word once it was given.
By the same token, those who were disloyal could never return to his good graces.
Again, loyalty above all else is what mattered to him in his countless relationships with people of all kinds.
Angels in politics didn’t have a way of existing in the Revere he grew up in and which he came of age in.
The Revere which he ruled as mayor was a tough place to preside over, a highly politicized place which was a bit like the Wild West when you come right down to it.
There were many competing constituencies he had to deal with.
He was not an angel nor did he pretend to be one.
He was a fiery individual who quite often had to hold it all back.
He was a fierce competitor and he hated to lose.
He very rarely lost.
He was a realist about everything he did in politics and with regard to people.
In his personal life, he was devoted to his family while living a Spartan life.
He didn’t drink or smoke. He preferred home cooked food to eating out at restaurants.
He drove a Volkswagon. He dressed conservatively. He was never loud or brash about anything he did. He was humble and self-effacing. He didn’t whine or complain. During the year when his health failed him, he was never heard to bemoan his plight.
He liked people. He was affable and talkative, informed and thoroughly modern.
And he was a complete gentleman at all times in public wherever he went.
He was moral and believed in doing the right thing.
He was a politician who came to understand how everything in a municipality works.
Above all, he knew how to say thank you – and he meant it.
He knew how to thank others for the great work they had done.
He knew about life. He understood this city.
He was proud to be from Revere and Revere was his life.