By Julie McCay Turner
A position at Raytheon, when its Missile Systems Division was located on Hartwell Road, brought John Linz and his family to Bedford in 1969. Now, 48 years later, John has been named Citizen of the Year for 2017-2018. Both his family and his professional background have played an important part in his Bedford career.
Typically Citizens of the Year learn about their honor in a face-to-face conversation with a representative of the confidential committee that makes the decision. This year, John and Marie Linz were out of town when that decision was made.
A phone call to one of Linz’s daughter resulted in a Bluetooth-enabled conversation as they returned to Bedford from a family dinner in Pennsylvania. With Lisa in California, Christina in North Carolina, and Laura in Pennsylvania, the announcement became a family affair. “And I managed to not run off the road,” Linz said. A three-generation family reunion is planned, with Linz’s daughters, their husbands, and their children watching when he leads the Bedford Day parade and joins local dignitaries at the reviewing stand on September 23.
As a member of the Finance Committee during the 1980s, prior to the 25 years he served as an Assessor, Linz has watched Bedford evolve into today’s modern and professional town government.
Looking back, Linz noted that the Selectmen once performed nearly all the functions that are now handled by the Town Manager and the paid managers and staff who replaced volunteer staff on many boards and committees. Bedford experienced several early town administrators before Rick Reed was hired, and Linz worked with Joe Sweeney and John McCulloch to sift through 100 resumes before presenting three, including Reed’s, to the Selectmen.
With an engineering background and significant management experience, Linz – a self-described ‘data junkie’ — was well-suited to the job when he first ran for Assessor. “There’s a LOT of data to work with,” he grinned. During Linz’s early years on the board, the town moved into sync with emerging technologies. The first computer used on behalf of the assessors was Linz’s home machine, back in the day when personal computers were the size of carry-on suitcases. The department has gone on to move fully into the present with a professional staff and much more powerful computers.
Linz’s background as an assessor, as well as his passion for local history, currently benefits the Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission is charged with the preservation, protection, and development of Bedford’s historical, archaeological and cultural assets – many of which are older homes subject to demolition delays before new construction can take their place.
Outside local government, Linz has watched St. Michael’s Parish grow from a small, country church to a modern congregation with strong internal leadership, a Parish Center that is widely used for both parish and community events, and a group of leaders committed to mentoring a new generation of leadership for the parish.
An early interest in his daughters’ figure skating competitions at the old Belle Isle skating rink on Loomis Street led to Linz’s becoming a semi-professional sports team photographer. That led to a weekly stint reporting on Recreation Department-sponsored ice hockey games for the Bedford Minuteman during Mike Rosenberg’s tenure as editor.
And photography brings Linz back to his passion for history, as a member of the Friends of the Job Lane House board of directors. For the past several summers, Linz has photographed the summer archaeology and colonial history programs that the Friends have offered through the Recreation Department. This year, Linz created a photo album commemorating this year’s Kids Colonial Week – Click here to read John Linz’s Colonial Kids Week Album.
Editor’s Note: Congratulations, John Linz, and thank you for your service to the Town.