Former Town Administrator Bill Gustus a driving force behind the development of MarketStreet, dies at 69

LYNNFIELD — Former Town Administrator William J. Gustus died Sept. 19 at his Lunenburg home. He was 69.

Gustus arrived in Lynnfield in December 2002. Under his watch, the next 12 years were marked by several unprecedented initiatives and projects and successfully achieved by the town.

He guided the town through the approval of the MarketStreet Lynnfield development project that includes retail space, restaurants, apartments, an urgent care facility, a seasonal ice rink and senior housing. He oversaw the senior center improvement project and the school building project that included the renovation of three schools and the new Lynnfield Middle School.

Under his leadership, the town successfully met the state’s standard (10 percent) for 40B affordable housing and acquired two in-town golf courses (the former Lynnfield Center GC, now Reedy Meadow GC, and the former Colonial GC, now King Rail Reserve GC ). He was also instrumental in improving the town’s financial status to a bond rating of AA-plus.

Select Board member Dick Dalton said he dealt with Bill for many years when Dalton was on the Planning Board.

“We should never forget he was really a driving force with so many of the good things that have happened over the last couple of decades,” said Dalton. “He made so many important contributions to this town.”

His service to the town didn’t end with his retirement in 2015. He volunteered to oversee the final phase of construction at the King Rail golf course so that it could open the following spring, and he also stayed on for ongoing work with the proposed rail trail project.

“He was a profound strategic thinker who also cared deeply for our town, our employees and our residents,” Select Board Chair Phil Crawford said. “He was a good friend to many of us, and he served the town of Lynnfield well. Our thoughts go out to his wife, Laura, his children and grandchildren, and his extended family. He has a very large family, wonderful kids and grandkids and I feel sorry for them. Bill was a great guy. He’s going to be greatly missed.”

Crawford called for a moment of silence in his memory at the Sept. 19 Select Board meeting.

“I personally did not know Bill, but read in his bio about all the things he got done; it was monumental,” said Select Board Vice Chair Joe Connell. “It’s hard to believe what he did in 12 years. Again, what a remarkable story about a guy who put the foundation in for Lynnfield and we were very lucky to have him.”

Born in Lowell on January 9, 1953, Gustus grew up in Wilmington. He graduated from Wilmington High School, Wesleyan University and New England School of Law. He served two years in the Peace Corps in Malaysia before embarking on a career in law and local government.

He owned and operated the Settlers Crossing Golf Course in Lunenburg and the Westminster Golf & Country Club with his wife and a business partner.

He served as the chief administrative and financial officer for the town of Lunenburg and also served multiple roles in Middlesex County government and as general counsel at Cummings Properties. He also spent time as the chief financial officer for the city of Gloucester.

Gustus is survived by his wife, Laura Caron-Gustus, nine children, 13 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. His funeral will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 10 am at the Our Lady of the Lake Church in Leominster. Visiting hours will be held on Monday, Sept. 27 from 4 to 7 pm at the Anderson Funeral Home in Ayer.

Anne Marie Tobin can be reached at [email protected]

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