A fitting tribute
Published 9:46 pm Monday, September 24, 2018
In a downtown square that long has served to recognize prominent businesses and businesspeople, one of the city’s busiest and most industrious businesspeople finally is recognized.
Andy Damiani was honored Wednesday at what’s now known as Damiani Square, a park-like area in downtown within sight of several buildings he owned and managed until his death on Aug. 5 last year at the age of 95.
Damiani was a Richmond native who attended Juilliard School of Music and left to join the war effort during World War II. He was an infantry soldier and squad leader in the headquarters band. After the war, Damiani stayed in Europe for several years touring with musicians and meeting and greeting relatives, earning much material for the stories he’d later tell.
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After returning to America, he eventually landed in Suffolk and became a businessman, downtown cheerleader, mayor and philanthropist.
He was on City Council from 1970 to 1992 and was mayor from 1982 to 1986. But it was his love of downtown that really set him apart and earned him the moniker “Mr. Downtown.”
He owned several buildings and welcomed businesses of all kinds into them, from retail shops to office space. He encouraged other downtown businesses and earnestly hoped for their success, and was never shy about telling folks what the city ought to do to make downtown the bustling place it once was.
When the City Council first brought up the idea last year of naming the square after him, it seemed like the perfect plan. He passed by the space several times per day, and Councilman Mike Duman’s research revealed that Character Corner, where a statue of Mr. Peanut stands, was originally meant to recognize the businesses and businesspeople that have made Suffolk great. However, that intent seemed to have gone by the wayside in recent years.
We’re pleased to see it make a comeback by renaming the area Damiani Square, and we hope Damiani’s legacy will live on through it and his many other contributions.