Ex-councilor dies in fire

By Maria Papadopoulos, Enterprise staff writer

BROCKTON— From every conversation Richard Sergi had with his longtime friend and former City Councilor George R. Papas, he learned something


“Whether it was about politics, or history, or government, or music, or theater, Hemingway or Tennessee Williams, he just knew everything about everything,” Sergi, executive director of the Brockton Housing Authority, fondly said of Papas Wednesday night. “He really was a renaissance man.”

Papas, 74, died from injuries sustained in a fire at his Moraine Street home Wednesday afternoon.

A former City Council president, Papas was among seven people, including two of his family members and four police officers, injured in the blaze reported at 2:36 p.m. Wednesday.

“It's just awful,” said state Sen. Robert Creedon, D-Brockton, who was a friend of Papas for nearly four decades.

Wednesday night, several people described Papas as a caring, responsible and intelligent man who was a devoted Democrat and a dedicated councilor.

“He was one of the smartest guys on the City Council,” said Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy, who served with Papas on the council in the early 1990s.

Papas, a retired art teacher, taught for several years in Stoughton schools.

He had a long record of involvement in civic affairs. He was active in educational and Democratic organizations, serving as chairman of the Ward 1 Democratic Committee. He also served as an officer of numerous groups, including the Brockton Energy Commission and the Taunton Watershed Association.

Papas, a father of two, served three separate terms as the Ward 1 city councilor over a three-decade span beginning in the 1970s. In 1991, he served as City Council president.

“Government should operate from the neighborhood level up,” Papas said in a June 20, 1999, article in The Enterprise. “As a councilor, you can't wait for people to come to you — you have to go to them and help them solve their problems.”

Creedon said he and Papas both shared “an ongoing concern for representative democracy and a healthy fear of government.”

“George always got involved. He cared,” Creedon said.

When his brother, Michael, ran for state senate in the 1980s, Creedon said he called on two people to help with the campaign — Papas and the late Louis F. Angelo, a former school teacher who represented the area both as a state representative and a Ward 7 city councilor.

“I wish we could clone George Papas and somehow analyze what he was always about and synthesize it into a pill to give to citizens to be as caring about their citizenship as he was,” Creedon said. “He truly was a responsible American.”

Papas was a devoted artist, several said.

In 2001, he earned the “Best of Show” title in a downtown art exhibition.

Born in Boston, Papas moved to Brockton in 1962. He was a graduate of Cathedral High School, Boston State College, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He was a former Fulbright Fellow.

Papas had taken ill in recent years, and was confined to his bed, his friends said.

“It's devastating,” Brophy said. “He was a real good guy.”


Brockton mourns loss of 'renaissance man'

By David Abel, Boston Globe Staff / December 7, 2007

He was a connoisseur of literature, an accomplished painter, a lifelong teacher who served three terms on the Brockton City Council, where he leaned hard to the left but railed against fiscal abandonment in a city that had amassed a hefty deficit.

On Wednesday, after being bedridden for several years, George R. Papas, 74, died when a fire ripped through his home on Moraine Street in Brockton. The blaze injured his wife, Carole; his son-in-law, David Summers; and four police officers. The cause remains under investigation.

"He was an amazing person, a brilliant man," said Sandy Papas, his granddaughter, in a telephone interview at his home yesterday. "He knew everything, whether it was for my Latin or math class, and he loved to share his knowledge. He was just a really good person who always tried to help people as much as he could."

Papas was born in Boston in 1933. He graduated from Cathedral High School, Boston State College, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, his granddaughter said. He was also a Fulbright fellow.

In 1962 he moved to Brockton, where his wife was living. He and his wife had two children.

Papas went on to teach art at Stoughton Middle School. He won his first election to the City Council in 1975. He was reelected in 1989, and became president of the City Council in 1992.

"He was one of the most intense political beings I ever knew," said Brockton Councilor at Large Thomas Brophy, who served with Papas in the 1990s. "He always took the legislative role very seriously."

He described Papas as "one of the architects of Brockton's financial recovery" from a $15 million deficit in the early 1990s. He recalled his work establishing a women's commission and pushing through hardship exemptions to the city's residency laws to allow city employees to live outside Brockton.

"Government should operate from the neighborhood level up," Papas told The Enterprise in 1999.

In 2001, when he lost another reelection bid, his artwork won "Best of Show" at an exhibition in Brockton.

"He was truly a renaissance man," said Richard J. Sergi, executive director of the Brockton Housing Authority. "I never came away from a conversation without learning something new, whether it was politics, government, art, music, theater, writers, or marketing. No matter the subject, he always seemed to know more about it than anyone else."

DwFieldPark.com is dedicated to George and Carole Papas for their lifelong service to the park and to the City of Brockton in general.