Once voted the "Best Mayor in Massachusetts" by his colleagues, Peter Torigian is known to many people of Peabody as being the best mayor the city has ever seen.
A true Peabodian, Torigian worked in a leather factory as a young man. He also served as a Marine and worked as a postal carrier before taking up the mantle as mayor of Peabody in 1979. His was the longest held mayoral office in city's history at twenty-three years. Torigian worked to revitalize the economy and re-establish public pride.
According to a tribute given as he was leaving office, he "skillfully guided the transformation of an old manufacturing base into a thriving new office complex known as Centennial Park," and was "instrumental in the development of North Shore Mall, creating thousands of new jobs." He helped celebrate diversity and awareness by creating the Peabody International Festival and the Armenian Genocide Ceremony, and showed commitment to senior citizens when he opened the Peabody Community Life Center (later renamed the Peter A. Torigian Community Life Center in his honor) in November 1991.
Many were devastated to hear of Torigian's passing in 2004 at the age of 68, and reminisced about the impact he had on them specifically and on the community as a whole. From the 2001 tribute, "Every public official is ultimately judged by the impact their policies have after the official has left office. In this way, generations of Peabody's children will be Peter's legacy, since thousands of children went through Peabody public schools during Mayor Torigian's time, and now their children are doing the same".
A time capsule from 1989 was opened in 2016 by Torigian's successors, and the items included came topped with a letter from Torigian. His words encapsulate the vision of his community that he shared as mayor for twenty-three years:
Learn more about Peabody history and see hundreds more beautiful, historic photos in the new pictorial history book from the Salem News, Celebrating Peabody: 100 Years of a City in the Making.