Longtime Former Town Manager Michael Driscoll Passes Away

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The man who led Watertown’s municipal government for nearly three decades, former Town Manager Michael Driscoll, passed away on Saturday.

Driscoll worked for the Town, and now City, of Watertown for 45 years, beginning as the manager of the John A. Ryan Arena in 1977, became treasurer collector in 1985 before becoming Town Manager in 1994. He grew up in Woburn and lived in Watertown with his wife, Jane. He has three daughters and one step daughter: Amy, Allison, Aileen, and Sarah. 

The City of Watertown sent out a statement that read, in part: “We are saddened to share the news that former Watertown City Manager Michael Driscoll passed away early on February 11, 2023 after receiving treatment for cancer over the past year. … City staff shares heartfelt condolences with the Driscoll family, friends, and the residents of Watertown.”

Details of services have not yet been announced.

Known to many as “Fiscal Driscoll,” he delivered 29 town and city budgets to the Council, including some in recent years in which Watertown was able to pay for two new elementary schools and renovate and expand third, plus the City’s portion of the new high school without having to raise taxes with a debt exclusion override.

This was made possible, largely, by the decision to pay down the City’s retirement deficit, and other retirement benefits — a situation faced by all communities in Massachusetts after the Economic downturn of the first decade of the 2000s — many years earlier than required.

In 2013, the City earned a AAA bond rating from municipal bond rating services Standard & Poor’s.

Driscoll announced his retirement in June 2021, and retired at the end of January 2022. During the meeting he talked about many of the highlights of his career. See his statement here.

In May 2022, hundreds gathered to pay tribute to Driscoll at a retirement party held at the Commander’s Mansion. Driscoll addressed the gathering at the end of the night and he concluded his words by quoting from one of his favorite songs, is Forever Young by Rod Stewart. He said:

“Tonight, I think of a sentence in the song which is ‘And when you finally fly away, I’ll be hoping that I served you well!'”

11 thoughts on “Longtime Former Town Manager Michael Driscoll Passes Away

  1. On behalf of myself, fellow East Enders, and the East Watertown Betterment Assoc., for our longtime friend and colleague: May His Memory Be Eternal.

    Angeline Maria B. Kounelis
    Retired District A, East End, City Councilor

  2. I am so sorry to hear of the passing of former Town Manager, Michael Driscoll! He just retired & was ready to enjoy his next chapter. Sending my Deep Sympathy to his family & our community-

  3. So sorry to hear of the passing of Mike. Mike has left a legacy of great fiscal health of our city which we should all be very thankful for. So sorry to hear and my condolences to Mike’s family.

  4. I am very sorry to hear about former City Manager, Michael Driscoll passing. I worked with both Michael and his wife Jane, at the City Hall years ago and considered both of them my friend. Michael stepped in as City Manager when Watertown really needed a fiscal manager of his talent and he led the city well during his tenure. Rest in peace Michael, you have left an indelible mark on the community of Watertown.
    Pat O’Brien

  5. Over my years of public activism, I got to know Mike Driscoll not only as a public servant as but as a human being who genuinely loved the Community. In the beginning we were often on opposite sides or a given issue. Yet we learned to respect each other. Later as we continued to work together for Watertown’s interest, we found we agreed more often than not. When we disagreed, it wasn’t on the end result, but rather about how to achieve the same result.
    Mike was known as Fiscal Driscoll, but he was much more than a numbers guy. Making the numbers work, meant more and better services for the PEOPLE of Watertown. So ironically, even though he didn’t have a reputation as Social Butterfly, when it came to management style… Mike was very much a People Person .. because Mike served the People and looked out for the People’s interest.
    I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones, which by definition of his decades of servant leadership, includes all of us in Watertown.

  6. My heartfelt sorrows Jane, we all know the benefits of having Mike in our town/city. So sad he never got to enjoy as many years in retirement as he devoted to us. Lucky enough to have met you along the journey, Rest in Peace my friend!

  7. I worked with Mike as his labor attorney for several years. During that time I found Mike to be wry, funny, very, very organized, and loyal. When I learned about his death, I felt sadness in my heart because he was entering a new phase in his life retirement, which he definitely diserved.

  8. From Marilyn Petitto Devaney

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Mike Driscoll , manager for twenty-nine years .
    I’m sending my heartfelt
    Condolences to Jane and family . I hope in time , the memories you shared will be a consolation .


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