Atty. Noonan rests his case – Respected Town Counsel will retire Dec. 31

Friday, November 20, 2009
By Cary Shuman

Attorney Robert E. Noonan will retire as Town Counsel on December 31, a position that he has held for the last 13 years. Noonan has held elected and appointed office almost continually since 1974 when he first held a seat on the Planning Board.

“I felt it was a good time to leave,” said Noonan. “There are no major legal issues facing the town. We have a new town council coming in, so it’s a good time to move on and help insure a smooth transition for my successor.”

Noonan served on the Board of Selectmen with Ronald Vecchia, current Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo, and current Councillor-at-Large Joseph Ferrino Jr., among other colleagues, from 1981 to 1996, one of the longest continuous reigns as a selectman.

“There have been some good times serving on town boards,” said Noonan. “Over the years I felt we accomplished a lot, saw a lot, and a lot of people take pride in serving the town.”

Noonan grew up in Winthrop and attended St. Dominic Savio High School in East Boston. He graduated from Northeastern University and received his law degree from Suffolk University Law School. He will continue practicing law.

Robert and his wife, Eleanor, have two children, Robert Jr., a former star quarterback at Winthrop High and a Division 1 college baseball player at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut where he earned his degree; and Jennifer, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island and earned her Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Tufts University. They also have five grandchildren.

Council President Thomas Reilly lauded Noonan’s efforts as town counsel and his distinguished record of service to the town of Winthrop. Noonan succeeded Reilly on the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen.

“Bob has done a tremendous job for the town as our counsel,” said Reilly. “The job has become more complicated and difficult and Bob has handled it extremely well. He’s been a big part of town government for a long time and we’re going to miss him.”

Reilly said that Noonan’s exit may be end of an era.

“It’s probably the end of a period of time when a single person can handle all of the legal cases,” said Reilly. “We get discrimination cases, land use cases, and all types of lawsuits. I think having a law firm as town counsel is the right course at this point in time.”

Reilly said he will discuss with the council the appropriate manner in which to honor Noonan’s contributions to the town.

Ferrino said that Noonan was his mentor in public service.

“He was my mentor – politically I was his first campaign manager when he ran for selectman and I’ve always admired him and thought he was – the man,” said Ferrino. “And he truly is. He knows all aspects of town government – the legal parts, and he knows how to get things done. He’s going to be missed.”

Town Manager James McKenna said he has been in discussions with the law firm of Kopelman and Paige to take on the duties as town counsel.

“In my view, the issues that the town faces these days are so complex and of such a variety that it’s really important that we have a broad scope of folks that we can lean on to address the myriad of issues,” said McKenna. “A law firm would be in a much better position to provide that kind of service than one person.”

McKenna said he enjoyed working with Noonan since becoming town manager.

“Bob is a terrific gentleman,” said McKenna. “He’s been a great asset to the town. His many years of involvement in the town are remarkable. It was good working with him. I wish him well.”

Noonan has served as the town’s attorney since 1996. He previously served on the Winthrop Planning Board for six years until 1981 and the Board of Selectmen for 15 years until 1996.

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