Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2611, March 5th, 2014

Front page of the Citizen's Voice covering former Wilkes Barre Mayor Lee Namey's death. 
During the 1988 Presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy Junior made an appearance at the Courthouse on behalf of the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket. Namey is on the right greeting JFK Junior. (Photo: Citizen’s Voice)
Lee Namey served for two terms as Mayor of Wilkes Barre. From 1988 through 1996, Namey presided over a city in flux and change. The bloom had been taken off the redevelopment rose and revitalization of downtown Wilkes Barre after the Flood. Once plentiful Federal money had been diminished and Namey had to do some competent managing to steer the city through his two terms. One major accomplishment in his tenure was to improve the efficiency of the way government worked. He took the Public Works Department and put it under one roof. He worked tirelessly with downtown businesses to maintain the friendly hometown climate of the city. But in my opinion his most lasting achievement was developing a Recycling program that serves as Model for all of Northeastern Pennsylvania. With his Director John Berghold, Namey put together an equitable plan for residents to get rid of their garbage by instituting a bag system. Mundane? Inconsequential? Not really. Just look at the mess the cities of Scranton and Hazleton have on their hands with their garbage pickup. Wilkes Barrie has a clean and easy system that is fair to the users.
Namey got his start on Council in 1975 as one of “The Young Turks”. The trio of young men, Kevin Blaum, Robert Reilly and Namey put new blood in the city. They were elected when Wilkes Barre went to the Strong Mayor form of government. All three went on to higher office with Blaum becoming a State Representative in 1981, Namey becoming Mayor in 1988 and Robert Reilly becoming Clerk of Courts the same year.
Namey was an educator before he became Mayor and was respected and liked by his students. He was also a star football player at Wilkes College graduating in 1968. I’m told in both Wilkes Barre and Kingston, there were many pre teen young boys who would play on the streets and parks emulating his moves. A friend told me recently that when there was a pick up game, you either wanted to be Eddie Booth of Pittston or Lee Namey of Meyers. (This was pre Jimmy Cefalo and Charlie Wysocki).
Namey could be outspoken and tough. Plus he wouldn’t suffer fools gladly. But you always knew where you stood with the guy. When the Council team was running for re-election one year, Namey was shown aerial shots of Wilkes Barre’s Public Square. They were well done by the photographer and looked great from a visual standpoint. I was in the room with the group and Namey looked at the photos and said, “Great picture of trees but there are no people. People vote, trees don’t” The advertising group went back to the drawing board.
Mayor was also a devoted family man and revered his late father Leo Namey. At a United Way ceremony his father received a Labor Community Service Award. As he helped his father down from the podium no one could be prouder.
Namey always held his post election parties at Neddoff’s Restaurant in Wilkes Barre now the Choice One Credit Union Building. When seven Council candidates ran back then, victors would party hop. Namey would stay at Neddoff’s until the last supporter came by. He’d then end the night surrounded by family.
Hs death at an all too young age of 69 was a surprise to many. The legacy of Lee Namey’s term as Mayor is that he made the city of Wilkes Barre run better through making government work with what he had at the time. Namey left the city with a surplus and some very good will. Even though he never ran for public office again, he doled out advice to those who wanted to get involved in the process.
Our condolences to his wife Juanita, and his family.


At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonk, good job eulogizing Mayor Namey. He was all that you say and more. My condolences to his family and close friends.

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto. Yonk's institutional knowledge of this area is incredible. As for Namey, he was a good guy and from what I gathered a great teacher.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, when Namey ran for Mayor the first time, did he get a free ride or was there primary opposition?

At 8:20 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Yonki, when Namey ran for Mayor the first time, did he get a free ride or was there primary opposition?


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