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Sunday, April 20, 2014

CNMI leaders celebrate legacy of former Saipan mayor ‘Gere’

“A dedicated public servant,” “a visionary,” “a devoted family man,” “a mentor,” “a friend,” and “a source of inspiration” were among the words that acting governor Jude U. Hofschneider and other elected leaders used to pay tribute yesterday to former Saipan mayor Jesus Sablan Deleon Guerrero. “Gere,” as the former mayor was fondly called, passed away at the age of 82 on Valentine’s Day due to pancreatic cancer.

“It’s a very beautiful ceremony. We are very appreciative of this. I’m sure I speak on behalf of my family,” Rose Marie A. Deleon Guerrero, the youngest of the late mayor’s 10 children, told Saipan Tribune.

Beside her were her siblings consoling their mother, Victoria Alepuyo Deleon Guerrero.

The CNMI leadership, led by Hofschneider, Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) and House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and members of the Legislature, held a well-attended memorial tribute for “Gere” at the House of Representatives chamber on Capital Hill yesterday morning.

“On behalf of Governor Inos and the Executive Branch, we come to honor the legacy of a great man who devoted his life to serving the community. Jesus Sablan Deleon Guerrero was a congressman and a two-time mayor. His devotion to public service was selfless and untiring,” Hofschneider told the crowd.

Hofschneider recalled a remark by a former U.S. Postal Service official that “if it wasn’t for Mayor Gere, we would not have the post office in Chalan Kanoa.”

“In addition to ensuring we can communicate with the rest of the world [through postal service], Mayor Gere worked tirelessly to lay the groundwork for the street naming projects on Saipan, Tinian and Rota,” the acting governor added.

Hofschneider also recalled that some five months back, he was able to talk to the former mayor at the latter’s house about issues facing the CNMI.

“I was pleasantly surprised with his understanding of the challenges that our government and community faces today. However, he impressed upon me that no matter how hard or complex these challenges are, with hard work and dedication, we can overcome and make a difference,” he said.

Torres echoed Hofschneider’s words of praise for the late mayor. “He’s the type of person that even if you haven’t seen in a long time, you can always feel his love, his joy, charisma. I enjoyed his genuine personality and I thank him and his family for their service to the community.”

The House speaker, for his part, said “Gere” was not only a family but a mentor to him.

“He strongly believed in dedicating himself for the public, for working selflessly. As a congressman and mayor, he’s always helping people. He’s a true public servant,” the speaker said.

“Gere” was a member of the First Legislature, from Jan. 9, 1978 to Jan. 14, 1980. He also served twice as mayor of Saipan from January 1990 to 1998.

At the memorial tribute yesterday, Gus Kaipat led the singing of songs dedicated to the former mayor. The House, Senate and Saipan Mayor Donald G. Flores also each presented plaques of recognition and legislative resolutions to “Gere’s” wife, Victoria, and the family.

“Gere’s” funeral service will be on Saturday morning, Feb. 22, at Mt. Carmel Cathedral. Following the Mass of Christian burial at 11am is the interment service at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

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