LEWISTON — When Robert Mulready took over as Lewiston’s city administrator in 1990, he was an outsider. He didn’t stay an outsider for long, though, and ultimately the city ended up with a grand new mill project and some top-notch school athletic fields as a result of his work. 

“I remember actually driving to his home in Connecticut to help him move up here in advance of his family,” said Mark Adams, who was the city’s assistant administrator then. “Bob was the first city administrator to come from outside the city, organizationally and geographically. Yet he didn’t have a hard time relating to the history and fabric of the community.” 

Mulready died last month at his home in Avon, Connecticut, at the age of 73. When word of his passing began reaching people in Lewiston, they remembered the man as a courageous city leader; as an affable fellow who enjoyed creating work groups and then inspiring them to get things done. 

“Bob was very good at that,” Richard Metivier, Lewiston’s former finance director, said. “He got us all to work together as a team.” 

The result of that team play is evident even today. It was Mulready and his teams who spearheaded the Bates Mill project to bring businesses into a vast complex of vacant buildings. 

“In terms of long-term impact to the community, his leading the city’s efforts to take over the Bates Mill shouldn’t be overlooked,” Adams said. “It is not something that had happened before on that scale, nor was common for municipalities. Yet Bob’s courage and foresight served to preserve an important community asset and replace lost jobs was laudable.” 

“His response to the sudden closure of Bates Mill and deciding to take that challenge on has forever changed the destiny of Lewiston,” said Auburn City Manager Peter J. Crichton, who met Mulready in 1989 when Crichton took over as superintendent at Lewiston Public Works. “I do not think there are many city administrators or city managers who would have had the courage and leadership ability to take it on and be as successful.”

Crichton also remembered that Mulready was not above a spirit of competition, especially when the stakes were high.

“I well remember seeing his pride and competitive streak come out during the Ice Storm of 1998,” Crichton said. “Bob was determined to make sure that Auburn would not get ahead of us in their response to the Ice Storm. So, if he heard of a good idea from Auburn, he would immediately want to make sure that we came up with a better one!”

According to his obituary, Muldready made a career of municipal government. Twice, he tried to leave it, but in the end, he kept coming back. 

“Professionally, what he would want to be remembered most for was his 30-year career in municipal government,” according to the obituary, “in particular his 20 years as city manager of three communities; Davenport, Iowa, Enfield, Connecticut, and Lewiston, Maine. City management was a profession he thought was noble, and he loved it.” 

His love of the job, according to those who worked with Mulready, was to the benefit of the city and its citizens.

“Bob enjoyed being the city administrator and loved being able to make things happen,” Crichton said. “He often talked about his family and he approached his job by making sure the wheels of government ran on time. By that I mean he was, first and foremost, concerned about the basic things that make a city government more effective and successful. And he was very good at making sure the trains ran on time.”

In the midst of a busy career, Mulready was tapped by U.S. Sen. George Mitchell to work with a congressional committee on unfunded environmental mandates. But according to those who knew him best, what Mulready loved most of all was doing city business and his family. 

“He was very committed to municipal government and the community,” said Dot Perham-Whittier, community relations coordinator in Lewiston, who worked with Mulready for nine years. “However, his proudest role by far was being Dad to his children: Sarah, Patrick and Brian. All who knew and worked with Bob often heard him fondly speak of his children’s activities and what they were accomplishing.” 

In Lewiston, Mulready also took charge of the Franklin Pasture development to bring track and football fields to an area near the high school. 

“We ended up getting a federal grant for the majority of the work that ended up being done there,” Metivier said. “Bob was really keen on spearheading that project.” 

Mulready was Lewiston’s city administrator for ten years before he retired in March of 2000. According to his obituary, he died of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his three children and several grandchildren. 

“Bob Mulready has made a positive impact on me,” Crichton said, “and for thousands of people’s lives in Lewiston and in the greater region.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: