She fought hard for Lynn’s schoolchildren as a member of the School Committee. She was an advocate for all residents as a councilor-at-large.
Wherever Deborah Smith Walsh went, often in the company of her well-known husband, John “Coley” Walsh, a giant himself in the political circles of Lynn, she was welcomed in respectfully and enthusiastically and people embraced her presence in return with equal warmth and grace.
Mrs. Walsh found the perfect fit for her talents and her lifelong commitment to helping others as the community relations director at the Lynn Community Health Center, working at the Center for the past 15 years. She excelled in her position as the Center’s liaison to city and state officials and other non-profit organizations and educational institutions.
The City of Lynn is remembering Deborah Smith Walsh, one of its most prominent residents as a hard working dedicated public official and goodwill ambassador who helped make Lynn a better place.
Mrs. Walsh died March 27 following a courageous battle against cancer. She was 72.
Mayor Thomas McGee said he worked with Mrs. Walsh in many capacities in the city through the years.
“She was just such a big a part of the City of Lynn in so many ways both in elected office and in her commitment to making Lynn a better place, whether it be the Lynn Community Health Center o so many other organizations that she was a part of, because she really cared about this city and wanted to make a difference,” said McGee.
“Deborah Smith Walsh didn’t just talk about how things could be better, she really lived and breathed and worked to make this city a better place in many capacities,” added McGee, “She had an amazing record as an elected official, but her work at the Lynn Community Health Center and in other parts of this community made a difference – it’s a big loss for our city and she will be missed.”
Councillor-at-Large Buzzy Barton said, “Debbie Smith Walsh was a shining example of what public service should be all about. She dedicated herself to making the lives of others better. Lynn was blessed to have her and she will be sorely missed.”
Cindy Steger-Wilson, director of marketing and communications at the Lynn Community Health Center, worked with Mrs. Walsh at the Center.
“She really helped build and cultivate relationships throughout the community,” said Steger-Wilson. “She was amazing. She brought her skills and her connections from her time as a city councilor to the Health Center and was just really good at getting things done and working with lots of different constituencies to put everybody on the same page and make something happen.
Steger-Wilson said Mrs. Walsh was a hard worker who was always very positive and supportive of her colleagues. “She was completely dedicated to the Health Center – she was truly our best advocate in the community.”
Steger-Wilson admired Mrs. Walsh’s fighting spirit in her bout against cancer. “She was a fighter and never, ever gave up,” said Steger-Wilson, “Even when she became ill, she never missed an opportunity to advance the position of the Health Center in the community. She really was a very selfless and courageous person.”
Coley Walsh, who shared 49 years of marriage with Deborah Smith Walsh, said his wife, “loved people and she would always stand up for a person, no matter if she was only the one in the room standing up for that person.”
Mrs. Walsh was so proud of her three children and became the perfect grandmother.
Her son, Steven Walsh, contributed well to the family’s legacy of public service as a state representative before leaving it to take a prestigious post as president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association. Marissa Walsh became a highly respected publisher of books. Joseph Walsh has worked internationally as a musical theater director.
Marissa Walsh said of her beloved mother, “If you ever worked with my mother or sought out her help, you will be not be surprised to learn that her struggle with cancer was long, and hard, but that she never gave up. She did everything – and I mean everything – she could to keep going. I hope her strength, especially during this last phase of her life, serves as an inspiration.”
In a gesture typifying the caring and thoughtful nature of the Walsh family, Marissa Walsh added, “If you are able, one way to honor my mom is with a blood donation. Cancer patients undergoing treatment often need blood transfusions, and the pandemic has caused a severe blood shortage.”