HAVERHILL - Portraits of former mayors George Katsaros and Thomas Vathally adorned the walls of the former city-owned Hale Hospital for years.
Officials at Merrimack Valley Hospital, the new name for the hospital that is now privately owned, have returned the portraits to the city, but the city had duplicate portraits of those two men hanging across from City Council chambers. So Mayor James Fiorentini contacted their family members and asked if they'd like them.
Katsaros' widow, Effie Katsaros, and her son Nicholas Katsaros, visited the mayor this week and were presented with a portrait of the late George Katsaros.
Vathally family members are out of town and will receive their portrait in the near future. The city contracted for construction a new hospital building during Mayor Vathally's single term in office in 1980-81.
"I think he'd be very sorry to think what happened to his portrait," Effie Katsaros said. "As a trustee, my husband worked very hard for the hospital. He was very dedicated to the hospital and always made sure it was operating in the black."
George Katsaros was born in Haverhill in 1918 to a Greek family. During the 1930s and 1940s he led the very popular George Kay and his Orchestra. A talented musician, he played the guitar, drums, and bouzouki - a sharp-sounding stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and a long neck.
A justice of the peace and constable, Katsaros operated George Kay's Lounge downtown during his years as mayor.
"He'd marry couples, cater and host their wedding at his function hall and he'd provide the musical entertainment," said Nicholas Katsaros. "He was also very popular with Haverhill's senior citizens. He'd travel around performing for them."
Fiorentini said he first met Katsaros when he was a child and visiting his grandparents on Richmond Street.
"I just knew him as the friendly guy who lived across from my grandparents," Fiorentini said.
In the early 1970s, the city's Hale Hospital, on Buttonwoods Avenue, was small and antiquated. In 1984, the city built a new Hale Hospital across from Haverhill Stadium.
"George Katsaros was largely responsible for the new Hale Hospital," Fiorentini said. "George was a good person and a good mayor."
George Katsaros died in 1982 from a rare form of leukemia.
"He enjoyed everything he did," Effie Katsaros said.
George Kay Katsaros served three terms on the City Council between 1965 and 1970. He was mayor from 1972 to 1975.
Thomas Vathally was mayor from 1980 to 1981.