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Braintree Chamber Honors Retiring Councilors

The Braintree Chamber of Commerce was formed earlier this year out of two separate organizations.

Leland Dingee at the Braintree Chamber of Commerce Dec. 10, 2013.
Leland Dingee at the Braintree Chamber of Commerce Dec. 10, 2013.
Braintree councilors Leland Dingee and Henry Joyce are best friends.

They are both retiring from the Town Council at the end of this year, their families spend a lot of time together and they disagree on an issue or two. But despite their occasional differences, they have worked together on town problems for the better part of two decades.

"That's what government should be," Dingee said at a recent meeting of the Braintree Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber gathered Dec. 10 for its year-end meeting at Town Hall to discuss the first 12 months of its existence, a proposal on small businesses from Rep. Mark Cusack, and the retirement of two Braintree government stalwarts. 

Both councilors "embody the spirit of community service," Chamber President Michael Wilcox said. Mayor Joseph Sullivan called them the "Thelma & Louise" of local government, minus the cliff. He said Braintree is "fortunate to have had people of their character."

Dingee and Joyce both decided earlier this year not to seek re-election to the Town Council. Yet both have pledged to stay involved – Joyce was recently appointed to the board of the Department of Elder Affairs, and remains committed to Braintree Babe Ruth. 

Dingee, on the other hand, said he will stick around, but that "it's time to stop and smell the roses."

The councilor-at-large moved to Braintree in 1976, after spending his youth as a Southie native and Navy brat. During his first 16 years of life, he moved every two years. It's hard to make lasting friends like that, Dingee said. But when he moved to Braintree that all changed.

A fight to keep Clean Harbors from setting up a hazardous waste disposal facility 30 years ago pulled Dingee into public service.

He worked for for Sun Life Financial in Wellesley and throughout the years has been a member of Town Meeting, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Capital Planning Committee, the Norfolk County Advisory Board, the Board of Selectmen (which he chaired for two years), and much more.

Dingee told the chamber the story of how Joyce got him elected for the first time to the Board of Selectmen. During one of his failed runs, Dingee noticed people with signs lining Washington Street. He learned the candidate's campaign manager was Henry Joyce and eventually recruited him to run his next campaign, which he won handily.

"I owe Hank a lot for really getting my foundation in politics," Dingee said.

Joyce moved to Braintree in 1979. He served two years in the Army, including 13 months in Vietnam. Then for several decades he worked in the financial industry, including many years for the Bank of New England. 

He joined the Knights of Columbus early on, becoming involved in politics through that organization. Joyce also began volunteering more than 20 years ago with Babe Ruth, and served for nine years on the Parks and Recreation board.

Joyce said he connected most with the community when working with young baseball players who matured throughout their time playing ball. The best, he said, is when a player comes up to him during their junior year and tells him how much they appreciate what he has done behind the scenes for their success.

"Thats what makes it worthwhile, that's what makes it a labor of love," Joyce said.
Brian F Hickman December 13, 2013 at 09:51 AM
Good Luck Le Dingee....Job well done! Hank Joyce and his son "JIMMY"were decent people. When the Braintree Police ran camp 02184, Jimmy was one of our Counselors with his Basketball partner (Bobby Kip). 2000 kids "Loved" the camp! People that cared about "Braintree Mass". Huge Hit!!!

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