BREWER, Maine — Public service always has been a part of Gerald “Gerry” Robertson’s long life, and to applaud his six-plus decades of dedication to the community and the region, city councilors on Tuesday created a scholarship in his honor.
Robertson, a nonagenarian, first was elected a city councilor at age 23 and then spent 46 years serving Brewer, 19 as mayor. And being a city leader is just one of many posts that he has held over the years.
“He’s served the city in many capacities,” Mayor Arthur “Archie” Verow said Wednesday. “He’s just always been there. I think the city owes much to him for the city’s development and growth.”
Robertson was one of the founding members of the Brewer Economic Development Corp., which started in 1968, and has stayed involved as a member since that time.
BEDC is partnering with the city and each will supply $1,000 annually for the Brewer High School scholarship, which will be awarded to a graduate who has followed in Robertson’s footsteps by showing an interest in public service or government.
“Robertson’s tradition of public service is a long and proud one that both the city and Brewer Economic Development Corporation wish to see continue in future leaders,” states the City Council order creating the scholarship.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, City Councilor Joseph Ferris also presented a plaque from Maine legislators that recognize Robertson’s many contributions. Robertson was Brewer’s representative to the 103rd Maine Legislature.
Over his lengthy career as a public servant, the city has honored Robertson by naming a street after him, Robertson Boulevard, selecting him as the 2005 Citizen of the Year and proclaiming “Gerald Robertson Day” on two occasions.
At that event, Robertson said, “I did not do it for the prestige, and I did not do it for the recognition, but rather as an obligation to make our community the greatest in the state of Maine. Brewer is my home, even though I didn’t move here until I was 19.”
Born April 18, 1918, in Sullivan, he moved to Brewer to attend Beal Business College, his son Gary Robertson said.
While at Beal, which was located in downtown Bangor at the time, he witnessed the shooting of wanted gangsters Al Brady and Clarence Lee Shaffer Jr. on Oct. 12, 1937.
“He saw the FBI cars tearing down the road, with people hanging off the running boards, and heard the gunshots,” Gary Robertson said. “He ran into the school and laid down on the floor. After the shooting stopped, he looked out the window and there was Brady and the other guy” lying dead in the middle of Central Street.
“He’s one of the very few remaining … witnesses left of that,” his son said.
While his children were young, Robertson and his wife, Marion, both served on the parent-teacher association, were band parents and were active with the First United Methodist Church in Brewer.
“I don’t known how they did it,” Gary Robertson said. “It was a combined effort. My mother also played a key role.”
Robertson has served on the Brewer Housing Authority board since 1997, many of those as chairman, and has been a Brewer Planning Board member since 1996.
Robertson is a member of the Eastern Agency on Aging, and served as the group’s president, is a member of TRIAD and is an executive committee member of Maine AARP. And last year, he sat on the executive council of the national AARP.
The Maine AARP honored Robertson in 2005 with the prestigious Andrus Award for Outstanding Volunteer Community Service. He also was the recipient of the 1995 Maine Municipal Association’s Ethel N. Kelley Award.
He helped to organize the Eastern Fine Paper Credit Union, which now is known as Brewer Federal Credit Union, and still holds account No. 2. He went to Germany to help bring ZF Lemforder to town.
He also has sat on various committees under former Govs. Joseph Brennan and Angus King and was the 1995 Maine delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.
Verow said Robertson is a wonderful representative of the city and a perfect example of public service.
“Over the years, he’s been a good influence and a positive role model,” he said. “We have a lot to be thankful of.”
“It’s been a distinguished and honest pleasure and privilege to serve this city,” Robertson said at the 2005 Citizen of the Year ceremony.
“We’re honoring a person with a record of public service that will never be matched,” then Councilor Mike Celli said when Robertson was named Citizen of the Year.