By Sue Ellen Woodcock
City council president and former four-term Mayor Robert Haas Jr. passed away unexpectedly Sunday morning, July 2 at a Block Island, Rhode Island vacation spot.
“This is absolutely tragic news and my heart goes out to the Haas family,” said Ward 4 Councillor and Council Vice President Patrick Keefe. “In my short time on the council Bob was always willing to mentor me and offer advice when needed. I consider him a friend and I can only imagine how my fellow long term councillors feel right now.”
Most were shocked at Haas’ passing. Just last Thursday numerous councillors, including Haas gathered at City Hall for the promotion in the Revere Police Department.
“This is a terrible loss to the city,” said Ward 5 Councillor John Powers. “He was family first and Revere second.”
“Bob truly loved the city of Revere and loved to serve it,” said Councillor Jessica Giannino. “ I am grateful I had the opportunity to to serve with someone with his experience and knowledge. Thank you to the Haas family for sharing Bob with the city.”
“Bob devoted his life to the residents of Revere. He served as Councillor and as Mayor for over 30 years. He also served his country in the Naval Reserve. He never stopped fighting for our city,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo.
“Bob was the fabric of the community,” said former Mayor Dan Rizzo. “Anyone who commits to public service as Bob did, one just has to give thanks and appreciation.”
Former Mayor Tom Ambrosino, who defeated Haas in the 1999 election, said “Although we were opponents, I had the utmost respect for Bob. After that race we became colleagues and friends. Bob was an honorable man who always had the best interests of Revere at heart.”
“Bob has been a mentor and a friend throughout my career. His counsel and support has meant the world to me. He was always willing to share his experiences and his wisdom, both in politics and in life. Bob always reminded me that no matter what was going on, the most important thing in life is our family,” Arrigo added and said that it’s hard to imagine the City of Revere without Bob Haas’ presence; I will always think of him every time I sit in the Mayor’s office that he called home for four terms.”
“I mourn the loss of Mayor Bob Haas. I have fond memories of competing on the softball field against him and advocating for local concerns alongside him. He was a dedicated public servant with a kind heart and upbeat disposition. My thoughts are with his wife Juanita, his children, grandchildren and friends at this time,” said Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.
Several people mentioned the softball games Haas used to participate in.
“We played softball in the early 1970s,” said Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Patch. “We were friends. Sometimes we disagreed, but we always remained friends. It seems the last year we had been even friendlier.”
“He was my best friend. He had the city at heart,” said Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky.
“He was enjoying life with his grandkids,” said Councillor Anthony Zambuto.
“He was a wonderful guy who dedicated so many years for the betterment of our city,” said Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna.
“Bob made many great contributions to the city as a public servant and helped Revere move forward in numerous ways,” said Councillor Steve Morabito. “Most importantly, Councillor Haas was a friend and mentor to me.”
“Most importantly he was committed to family,” said Councillor George Rotondo. “He will be sadly missed.”
“I’ve always been civic oriented,” Haas said with the Revere Journal reporter during a recent conversation. Haas served as mayor from 1992 to 2000 and a City Councillor from 1980-1992 and again in 2003 to 2017. He was born in Melrose and grew up in Revere, graduating from Revere High School class of 1963. He joined the Navy and then he worked at the National Shawmut Bank of Boston while going to school at night. Haas earned his finance degree from Northeastern University. He was also the owner of Haas Business Forms.
While Haas was a city councillor he played an instrumental role in bringing several commercial developments to the city including the Hampton and Comfort Inn.
According to protocol on the city council, Keefe will become President of the Council and Haas’ at-large councillor seat will remain vacant until the election in November because there is less than six months in the term, according to City Clerk Ashley Melnik.
“My heart is broken for his wife of 50 years, Juanita; his three children, Jennifer, Rachel, and Bobby; his grandchildren; his many friends all over the City; and all the residents of Revere, who have lost a champion and a friend,” Arrigo said.
Flags at City Hall have been lowered to half staff.
Arraignments for the funeral of Robert Haas Jr. were incomplete at press time.