I noted, with pleasure, the decision of the City Council to rename Lobsterman Park the “John E. Menario Plaza” in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Portland and its emergence as a cultural and commercial gem.

Many have noted his role in championing the infrastructure projects of the late 1960s and early 1970s, some of which, in hindsight have been questioned, but whose overall positive impact is hardly a matter of dispute.

I have a more personal remembrance.

As a young man recently arrived in town in the early ’70s, I rather unexpectedly found myself speaking before the City Council one evening, representing a community group.

I have no specific recollection of the particulars of the event, other than feeling utterly unprepared and nervous, never before having been in such a role. But I do vividly recall that after my remarks, John sought me out to congratulate me on a good presentation, and he offered several words of personal encouragement.

From time to time, I think of that moment and what an inspiration it has been to me over the years. The city of Portland can be justly proud of its native son. May I humbly and with enduring gratitude offer my thanks to a man who, long ago, found a quiet moment to say a few kind words.

Sam Barouch


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