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Former US Rep. John Olver remembered for his intellect, candor

Retiring U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Mass., right, gestures to the audience as other members of the state's congressional delegation — including, from left, John Tierney, Jim McGovern and William Keating — look on during a tribute to Olver at the Democratic State Convention in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday, June 2, 2012.
Michael Dwyer
/
AP
Retiring U.S. Rep. John Olver, D-Mass., right, gestures to the audience as other members of the state's congressional delegation — including, from left, John Tierney, Jim McGovern and William Keating — look on during a tribute to Olver at the Democratic State Convention in Springfield, Mass., on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

Former U.S. Rep. John Olver is being remembered as a man straightforward, honest man known for his intellect and his candor.

Olver represented western and central Massachusetts in Congress for more than two decades and died late last week.

He previously served in the Massachusetts legislature.

Former state representative Ellen Story first got to know Olver when he served at the State House and said he was an "anti-politician."

"He was not a glad hander," she said. "He didn't suffer fools at all. And you knew where he stood, you knew he was honest, you knew he was very smart and that he had done his homework on whatever the issue was and that you could trust his opinion."

Quite a few of Olver's former aides went on to have political careers of their own.

Former state Senate President Stan Rosenberg worked for Olver in the legislature and said his former boss taught him plenty of lessons.

"Do your homework, listen more than you talk, and really identify the common ground that you can find among the varying interests who are trying to influence a particular policy area," he said.

Rosenberg said Olver's intellect helped him be a better Congressman.

"He was amazing with numbers and he knew how to research all kinds of sources for data and information that could inform a decision," he said.

Rosenberg said Olver was good at "looking at maps, looking at very complicated sets of data and [was] able to cut to the chase to figure out where the truth lay and how to advance the information he would gather into terrific public policy."

Former state senator Adam Hinds worked for Olver for more than two years starting in the late 1990's.

"He was just a rare combination of compassion and intellect and drive and making sure he did everything he could for our region and that always moves me," he said.

State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, also worked for Olver. Speaking to NEPM's "The Fabulous 413," she said, "I think what we all learned from John is that this is about public service. It's about being a public servant. And that's why he was so good at what he did because he was so driven by that."

Former Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz also served on Olver's staff. Speaking to "The Fabulous 413," Narkewicz said Olver "was in public service for all the right reasons. He cared deeply about his country and about the communities he represented. He cared deeply about issues. I think he thought the country could do better in so many way whether it was poverty or education or preserving or better transportation systems." "

Patrcia Lee Lewis, longtime Olver staff member and friend told show the show hosts that Olver's legacy is "that it's really possible to serve the people without putting yourself first, that integrity matters and he was the person with most integrity I've ever known."

A memorial service is planned for April.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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