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Bonfanti to Receive Ankeles Award

Mayor Michael Bonfanti is this year's recipient of the Harry Ankeles Award from the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce.

Each year the recognizes one of its members for his or her selfless dedication to the community and strong civic leadership -- qualities in the same spirit as the late Harry Ankeles.

Ankeles was a Peabody resident, lawyer and longstanding member of the Chamber lauded as a great business and civic leader. This year's recipient of the Ankeles Award is fitting, as his tenure as Peabody's mayor comes to an end and also because the two men knew each other and shared similar life experiences.

Mayor Michael Bonfanti will be honored with the award and for his long career of service to his hometown on Nov. 16 at the PACC Annual Dinner.

"I knew Harry and I knew what he stood for," said Bonfanti in a recent interview, remembering Ankeles as a champion for the community and his country. Both served in the military during wartime.

"He was a little guy too," Bonfanti added, recalling an old photograph of Ankeles in soldier's fatigues during World War II. The late lawyer was also a partner with Bonfanti's brother, Leonard, at their firm.

"It means an awful lot [to receive the award]," said Bonfanti.

Bonfanti joins the ranks of past honorees such as the late Mayor Peter Torigian, Arthur Holden, Charles and Martha Holden, William Power, Warren Waugh and former City Solicitor Lawrence O’Keefe. The PACC came up with the award 20 years ago to recognize business leaders who contribute to the cultural heritage of the city in the same way that Ankeles did throughout his lifetime.

A press release from the PACC says the award is in recognition of Bonfanti's leadership before and during his career as an elected official.

"Mayor Bonfanti has been a voice for fairness and tolerance on many difficult and decisive issues in our community. From creating an annual Social Service Summit to address needs of the city’s citizens, to bringing education, understanding and respect to the social, political and ethnic diversity of our community through groups such as Peabody United," the announcement said.

“It would be almost impossible to list all of the positive impacts Mayor Bonfanti has made to the community,” added PACC President Deanne Healey. “Not only has the mayor been an advocate for those in need, he has been a staunch supporter of the business community as well.”

Bonfanti was nominated by Peabody resident John Evans, who has worked closely with Bonfanti on his campaigns for office.

“Mayor Mike Bonfanti is a person who can be defined by the rare qualities of compassion, honesty and integrity,” Evans wrote, also noting hardships Bonfanti faced growing up in Peabody and how those experiences shaped his commitment to his hometown.

The Chamber’s annual dinner will be held at Spinelli's on Wednesday. The evening gets underway at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

For more information contact the PACC at 978-531-0384.

Past Ankeles honorees

  • H. Ray Wallman (2010)
  • Lawrence O’Keefe (2009)
  • Warren Waugh (2008)
  • Fran McCormack (2007)
  • William Power (2006)
  • Martha &  Chuck Holden (2005)
  • Dave Gravel (2004)
  • Jack Wells (2003)
  • Herb Harris (2002)
  • Barbara Kelly (2001)
  • Arthur Holden (2000)
  • Mayor Peter Torigian (1999)
  • Marc Freedman (1998)
  • Margaret Pedro (1997)
  • Thomas Aguiar (1996)
  • James Burke, Esq. (1995)
  • Arthur Gordon (1994)
  • Ben & Maureen Brodeur (1993)
  • Stephen Hendrickson (1992)
  • Ted Jones (1991)

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