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‘MR. MARBLEHEAD’ MOURNED: Town stalwart McNulty dies at age 70

MARBLEHEAD — Thomas A. McNulty, a town public servant and businessman known for his quick wit and public speaking voice, died Sunday at Kaplan House in Danvers after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

In recognition of the love and respect town residents have for McNulty, a public memorial service celebrating his life will be held at Abbot Hall on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.  

Deb McNulty, nee Deborah Binder, called her husband of 45 years "the best guy I ever knew in my life."

"He was the love of my life," McNulty said on Monday.

McNulty served the town in a variety of civic roles. He entered public office in 1975 after winning election as an Abbot Public Library trustee. He was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 1980 and served on the board for 18 years, finishing first in town balloting for selectman 16 times. He served as board chairman for 15 years and was elected Town Clerk from 2001 to 2007.

"He was Mr. Marblehead," said long-time friend and Dollars for Scholars founder Helaine Hazlett.

Hazlett recruited McNulty in 1987 to be the foundation's first president.

"It didn't take him long to say 'yes.' He was very pleased to help the kids of Marblehead. He knew just about every kid in  town," Hazlett said.

William Conly served as selectman with McNulty and said McNulty dove into the workload shouldered by the five selectmen.

"He liked people and he ran a good meeting," he said.

McNulty was the third generation member of his family to run the Warwick Cinema and he

served on the boards of Marblehead's Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Counseling Center, Dollars for Scholars.

Warwick Cinema film programmer Harold L. Blank issued this appreciation on Monday:

"It is sad to hear of Thomas McNulty's passing. Tom's love for the movie industry, and it was of the highest degree,  was evident in his operation of the old Warwick Cinema and Tom's Warwick Cinema was the catalyst for the new Warwick Cinema. We all owe Tom a debt of gratitude that Marblehead has a community cinema today where local residents can see first run movies minutes from their homes. Thank you, Tom, for your love of movies. Your name will always be synonymous with movies and the Warwick Cinema."

Town Administrator John McGinn spoke Monday of McNulty's public service legacy.

"Tom served Marblehead for many years as a member of the Board of Selectmen and later as Town Clerk. He was very proud of and cared deeply about his community," McGinn said.

Dollars for Scholars held its 30th year celebration in August, 2016 by honoring McNulty and establishing the Deborah and Thomas McNulty Scholarship Fund. Hazlett said McNulty, despite his illness, managed to present the first award in the scholarship's name.

McNulty spoke during Dollars for Scholars' 30th anniversary celebration, saying: "Marblehead is a unique and special place and it has been a privilege to serve in so many ways. I truly enjoyed every moment of service to the town. Being the founding president of the Citizens Scholarship Foundation is an achievement of which I am most proud."

Hazlett said she last spoke with McNulty last Friday and said his memory and affection will endure in the hearts of town residents.

"If you were a colleague of his you became his friend," she said.

Item reporter Gayla Cawley contributed to this report.

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