Everett’s Most Beloved Son, the Honorable George Keverian
By Keith Spencer
Speaker George Keverian was a prominent politician and one of Everett’s most beloved sons, and is forever remembered today by the thousands of students who have and continue to attend the school that bears his name.
The lifelong resident always put his hometown first, rising through the ranks of local politics after winning his first city council election in 1953. Through his leadership as speaker of the Massachusetts House, Keverian has undoubtedly become the most powerful politician to come out of Everett.
Through his friendships, Keverian helped cultivate a generation of local politicians who attribute much of their work to the former speaker.
Keverian was found dead at his home a few years ago after failing to show up to read as part of Dr. Seuss Day at the elementary school named in his honor. The former speaker took part in a number of activities at the school since its construction in 2001. He had just met with students the December before his death to discuss politics, his hometown, and their recent student council elections.
The former speaker was the son of Armenian immigrants, and often discussed the deep connection he felt with so many residents of Everett who hail from nations across the world, looking for renewed hope. Keverian’s parents fled the Turkish genocide in their native country to come to Everett.
Keverian was a lifelong bachelor, and looked at many of his neighbors and fellow residents as family. His compassion centered on the impoverished of the community and their struggles. He was even known for helping to pay residents’ tuition, and even taking in families in need of assistance.
Keverian was proud of his roots in the Everett Public Schools, graduating at the top of his class in 1949. After spending two years at Tufts University, he moved on to complete his degree at Harvard. While serving in the military, Keverian first entered politics in 1953 after his election to the Common Council.
Keverian served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 24 years. As majority whip, Keverian received monumental attention as he battled the incumbent speaker Thomas McGee for the speakership in the mid 1980’s. With a band of “reform-minded” representatives, he was able to wrestle away the post from McGee
After a failed bid in 1983, McGee stripped Keverian of his leadership post. However, Keverian came back in 1985 to wrestle away the post. After a disappointing bid in the Democratic primary for State Treasurer, Keverian returned home to Everett in 1990
Public scrutiny of his health and weight was an issue often joked about by Keverian. However, Keverian opened up about his struggles during an interview at a Harvard School of Public Health forum on obesity. Keverian spoke candidly about his weight, dieting, gastric bypass surgery, and even depression
“Having all that publicity and public acceptance worked against me. I became depressed,” Keverian said at the forum.
Upon his return to Everett, Keverian took the part-time post of chief assessor in Everett in 1995. He was dismissed from that position in 2007. Keverian blamed the dismissal on a feud with former Mayor John Hanlon. Mayor Carlo DeMaria reinstated Keverian a year later where he worked until the time of his death.
While Keverian’s influence on Beacon Hill has been felt for the last two decades, the residents will continue to live in a community that will forever be impacted by his service and commitment to its residents.
While his legacy is obvious in a city where a school and meeting room have been named in his honor. Yet Keverian’s lasting influence runs much deeper.
His life’s motivation was to help those less fortunate, and he developed an extensive family through out the community and state as a result. Guiding generations of politicians and school children, Keverian gave his life to his hometown.