DRACUT – “Tonight’s celebration will be just like Harvey: short and sweet.”
The collection of local residents, elected officials, close friends and family that chuckled at David Paquin’s joke were a piece of the good vibes shared at the now-renamed Harvey J. Gagnon Harmony Hall.
The community meeting hall was rechristened on Friday in honor of Gagnon, who organized the committee that planned the building’s move from its original location at the corner of Mammoth Road and Lakeview Avenue to its current home at 1660 Lakeview Avenue on Aug. 30, 1994. Gagnon, who passed away on Mar. 1 this year at age of 87, was also a former president of the Dracut Historical Society and a very active member of the community.
“Every new structure in town had his fingerprints on it,” Paquin, chair of the Dracut Historical Commission, said at the event. “He was a great guy who gave back to the community under the radar. He was a quiet guy who wanted to do good. I met him at the Historical Society 30 years ago when he asked if I was interested in volunteering. Next thing I knew, I was on the Board of Directors.”
Gagnon’s community involvement spread beyond buildings. On top of being a founding member of the Permanent Building Committee and a charter member of the Dracut Scholarship Foundation, Gagnon was the owner and operator of Dracut’s school bus contract. That fact was not lost on Rep. Colleen Garry, who spoke about her long history as a friend of Gagnon’s.
“My dad was an assistant superintendent so I always knew him,” Garry said. “I got to know him as Mr. Gagnon when we were seniors in high school and went out on school buses to go door-to-door asking for money for the Dracut Scholarship Foundation. Then I was blessed to know Harvey as Harvey. I served with him on the Scholarship Foundation and he was always there for whatever anybody needed. I got know him as Harvey with the Dracut Rotary Club, he was the backbone of that community effort for so many things. He may have had a short stature, but he was a giant in the community.”
Other government officials sang the praises of Gagnon at the event, including Sen. Barry Finegold and Congresswoman Lori Trahan.
“He is what Dracut is all about,” Finegold said. “When I come through this hall, I’ll think about the kindness he had.”
“Harvey certainly made this town his home through his strong belief in service,” Trahan said.
Three generations of the Gagnon family were also present to see him recognized, including his daughter Leslie Cox.
“We were blessed to have wonderful parents,” Cox said. “He and my mom danced in that hall as sweethearts. He understood where he was. At one point, he would come down here to check the answering machine to see if anyone needed a tour. We often referred to the building as his mistress.”