Former Westbrook Mayor Bruce Chuluda was remembered Monday as a quiet leader who loved his family and the city he served.

Chuluda, 66, died Sunday, according to Blais & Hay Funeral Home.

Elected to his first term in 2003, Chuluda became the liberal mill town’s first Republican mayor since 1989.

Ray Richardson, who helped with his campaign, said Chuluda ran on the slogan “putting the ‘we’ back in Westbrook” and was determined to bring people together. He instituted office hours on Saturdays where constituents could voice their concerns to him directly.

“That really was his legacy,” Richardson said.

Longtime City Councilor John O’Hara said Chuluda was “very attuned to what the populace needed.”

One way he was responsive to residents, O’Hara said, was by being fiscally responsible.

“He ran the city under some difficult economic times,” O’Hara said.

Chuluda was re-elected in 2005 and again in 2007. He was unseated by current Mayor Colleen Hilton, a Democrat, in 2009.

“Bruce was very quiet, very unassuming, but just had a real strong commitment to the city of Westbrook and the people of Westbrook,” said City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

A native of Massachusetts, he moved with his late wife, Vickie, to Westbrook, her hometown. She was an elementary school librarian. He worked as a hospital administrator, and later as a part-time toll booth collector for the Maine Turnpike Authority. They had a daughter, Lisa, who recently served on the city’s Charter Commission.

“The Chuluda family has been very important to the Westbrook community,” Hilton said. “Clearly a family devoted to public service. It’s a loss that will be felt by many.”

Before becoming mayor, Chuluda served one term on the City Council and as president of the Westbrook Community Chamber of Commerce.

While on the chamber, Chuluda also led the Westbrook Together Days committee and made another lasting impact on the city, Richardson said.

“It was a very small community event, and it has become a large festival where people from all over come to it,” he said. “A lot of that is because of Bruce.”

But it’s the devotion he had to his family and his family had to him, Richardson said, that “speaks more volumes than anything about who he was.”

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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