Hersey Becomes Acting Register of Deeds After O’Brien Steps Down for Health Reason

Register of Deeds John L. O’Brien Jr. shows his analysis of robo-signed mortgage documents. (Courtesy photograph.)

Dorothy Hersey was named acting register of the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds Jan. 1 following the resignation of John L. O’Brien because of illness.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin appointed Hersey who has served as first assistant register since 2019 and first came to work for the office 19 years ago. As WHAV reported in 2016, O’Brien revealed he suffers from Lewy body dementia with Parkinsonian symptoms. He said he would continue serving until he reaches “the point where I could not perform my duties and responsibilities.” He said he revealed the diagnosis “to put a face to a disease that has affected millions of people and without a cure will only affect millions more.”

O’Brien was elected 47 years ago, but got his start in politics as the Ward 6 Lynn city councilor when he was elected at age 19 in 1971.

“I had hoped to be able to finish my term, which expires in January of 2025, but I realized that my health, particularly my diagnosis of Lewy body dementia, would no longer allow me to fulfill my responsibilities as register of deeds as I would want to do and as the people of Essex County deserve,” he said last week in a statement.

Five-term Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff last August following O’Brien’s decision not to seek another term, said she will be a candidate for Essex County Register of Deeds.

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