Macek, Dean of Haverhill City Council, Known for Building Bridges, Evolution of Viewpoints

Former City Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien and William J. Macek in 2021 at WHAV. (WHAV News photograph.)

Congressional candidate Dan Koh, center, appears on WHAV’s Open Mic Show with Bill Ellis and Bill Macek on Aug. 13, 2018. (Chris Porter photograph for WHAV News)

(Slide show below.) See funeral arrangements here.

Haverhill’s longest serving city councilor, William J. Macek—known for building bridges between those with differing viewpoints—died unexpectedly Tuesday.

Although he chose not to seek re-election in 2021, Macek continued to serve as chairman of the city’s downtown Parking Commission and, this past January, agreed to come out of retirement to serve as Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s deputy chief of staff on a part-time basis. Macek was first elected to the City Council in 1982 and serving until 1992 and again from 2004 until his retirement. Back in 2015, Macek described how he interpreted his role as an elected official.

“Whether you live next door to me, on the same street, same area, or whether you lived as far away as you could get from where I live, I give the same amount of attention and care to those individuals,” he said.

Haverhill City Councilor William J. Macek in 2015. (WHAV News photograph.)

Macek’s own viewpoints were subject to evolution. For years, he opposed Fiorentini’s paid downtown parking program, but joined the mayor’s effort to help shape it into something successful. He also first opposed the idea of ward councilor, but became one of the first to support the concept. In 2015, he explained his resistance.

“My biggest fear would be, if we did go to ward councilors, is we start something that we don’t have and that’s backroom politics,” he said.

However, in 2019, Macek suggested the formation of a city charter commission to study electing city councilors by ward.

News of his passing came from former City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, who acted on behalf of Macek’s wife Maria and his children. O’Brien, who like Macek, chose not to seek another term two years ago, called him “A great councilor to work with who was all about the city.”

Fiorentini described the loss in personal terms.

“Bill was a wonderful city councilor, a wonderful public servant and, more importantly, he was a friend. His views were always sought out and always helpful. This is a loss to me and a tremendous loss to our city,” Fiorentini said.

Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett told WHAV she talked with Macek earlier Tuesday morning, saying, “He was fine.” Her voice cracking with emotion, Barrett called him “a mentor, a friend, a really good guy.”

Macek and O’Brien hosted a WHAV program, “Spotlight on Candidates,” in 2021 to help the public choose their replacements. She said Macek’s insight was his great gift,” noting, “He was someone other councilors would turn to for guidance and a different opinion on any issue. That was the most important thing. He could look at something with a different pair of eyes.”

His broadcast career dates back 40 years when he began announcing at WNBP, Newburyport, and moved on to WLLH-WSSH, Lowell; WFEA, Manchester, N.H.; WHAV and WLYT, Haverhill; and WHOB, Nashua, N.H. During his earlier stint at WHAV AM 1490, Macek hosted a one-hour, weeknight talk show called “The General Store.” He was variously been known on the air as “Bill Maxwell” and “Rick Adams.”

Between 2006 and 2015, Macek owned WPKZ, Fitchburg, 1280 AM and 105.3 FM. Previously, he owned WMOO FM, Derby, Vt. and WIKE, Newport, Vt., between 2001 and 2005 and WINQ, Winchester, N.H. between 1991 and 2000.  He previously also served on the board of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, advancing to radio chair.

In 2013, Macek served as one of the panelists for WHAV’s New England premiere screening of “Corporate FM: The Killing of Local Commercial Radio.” Macek served with Dan Kennedy, assistant professor, Northeastern University School of Journalism; Corporate FM Director Kevin McKinney; Dr. Donna L. Halper, associate professor of communications, Lesley University; and Marc Lemay, communications manager, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and former WHAV news director. It was moderated by Scott Fybush of Fybush Media.

When he offered his farewell from the City Council in 2021, he predicted his future involvement.

“I want to thank everybody I’ve worked for, everybody who supported me along the road. It has been an honor and a pleasure and I’ve always tried to do my best. I think I’ll show up now and then because I do care about my city and can’t turn it off like a light switch,” he said.

Besides elected office and working in broadcasting and, he founded Macek and Co. real estate in 1976 and began practice as a family lawyer in 1996. He leaves his wife, the former Maria J. DiPiro, and their two sons.

WHAV expects to share funeral arrangements when known.

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