FRAMINGHAM – Planning Board member Stephanie Mercandetti has died. She was 42.
She was first elected to the Framingham Planning Board in 2012, as a write-in candidate.
She was employed as the Economic Development Director in the Town of Medway, and previously was the Economic Development & Grants Officer for the Town of Walpole.
“Stephanie was the real deal, smart but not boastful, hard working, conscientious, generous with her time; and still, she managed to be one of the world’s truly nice people,” said State Rep. Chris Walsh.
“All of these things and more made her a stand out personality, but what will really stick with me when I think of her is the unique quality of her laughter, which lucky for us, seemed to come easily. Somewhere between a giggle and a full laugh, Stephanie’s laughter was like listening to small bells in a spring breeze; light and easy with not a hint of self consciousness,” said Rep. Walsh. “I feel fortunate to have this memory and I will cherish it. There are many ways that she will be missed by each of us but I know that she will be remembered for so much more.”
“I had the incredible honor of serving as Stephanie’s campaign chair when she ran for the Planning Board, and both times that she ran, the most interesting thing happened, Democrats worked with Republicans, old timers worked with new comers, people who were on opposite sides of town issues for decades came together,” said long-time Town Meeting member Bob Berman.
“Stephanie had an incredible ability to bridge differences and it clearly showed when you looked at the variety of people around the room at her campaign events. They were there because everybody loved Stephanie,” said Berman. “She was hard working, ethical and compassionate with an incredible ability to listen to everyone around her, always. Most importantly to me, Stephanie was a great friend who believed in me and was there for me through great times and difficult times, never once wavering in her friendship. She made me a better person.”
“A bright shining light has gone out today. I’ve known Stephanie for close to twenty years in many capacities,” said State Sen. Karen Spilka. “She was a dedicated public servant, tireless elected official, true Democrat and hard campaigner, an artist, and an amazing friend, daughter and sister. Stephanie was someone EVERYONE loved. She was kind, caring, upbeat, smart and had a heart of gold.”
“She taught us all a lesson as she packed a lot of life into her too short 42 years. I’ll miss the sparkle in her eyes, her easy laughter and her natural warmth. Rest In Peace Stephanie,” said Sen. Spilka.
“Those of us who know Stephanie best, know that she’s much more than just a great lady … she’s a gem,” said Natick Democrat Town Committe Chair Steve Roche. “It was always great to be in her company. She was smart with a smile and enjoyed life to the fullest as a public servant, political activist, a talented artist, a great friend … the list could go on and on. She will be sorely missed by us all.”
“I am heartbroken that Stephanie is no longer with us. She was everything that is good about this world. She will be greatly missed. I will always remember the special connection we had, as two of the younger people involved in the government in Framingham. We grew to be good friends and I will forever cherish that friendship,” said Brian LeFort, who was an aide to State Rep. Chris Walsh.
“When I ran for State Representative in 2014, she was immediately ready to help. Without her friendship, knowledge and counsel the campaign wouldn’t have been the same. I was a better candidate because of her guidance,” said LeFort.
“I can go on and on about how genuine and outstanding Stephanie was as a person and friend. Bottom line is I am blessed to have known Stephanie, this world was better with her in it and everyone who knew her is better because of it. Her family is in my thoughts and prayers,” said LeFort, who is a working as a Senior Regulatory Associate at Stateside Associates in Washington, D.C.
“Stephanie Mercandetti was a true gem who gave so much to the entire MetroWest community,” said Framingham City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky. “Always with a smile, she was smart, kind, thoughtful and dedicated to making a positive influence on everything she did in both her professional life and community involvement. She had so much to offer and to lose her at such a young age is so tragically sad. We will all miss Stephanie very much.”
“It is so extremely sad that such a wonderful human being passes away at such an young age. She will always be remember for her good heart, intellect and the desire to do what is right. It is a very sad day for our city,” said Framingham City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti.
“Ed and I are heartbroken by Stephanie’s passing. Her friendship was a gift that we were blessed to receive,” said Framingham City Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll. “She fought her devastating diagnosis with the same purpose, spirit and dignity with which she lived her life. Very few people can pull off the level of service to others she did, being so ill. Many people have reached out to me today who also loved her. They sensed nothing off during that time. She was as kind and considerate as always, despite her physical struggles. That was Stephanie.”
“If you can say that Stephanie Mercandetti was your friend, then you are a blessed person,” said fellow Democrat Parwez Wahid.
Former Town Meeting member Janet Leombruno said she got to know Stephanie, while helping with her write-in campaign for Planning Board.
“I was honored to have been asked to speak at her campaign kick-off,” said Leombruno, a Republican. “It was easy, as she was the one that had the ability to bring people together.”
Leombruno said she had ” a kindness to her that drew you in, yet she was funny, and had a sarcastic wit. She most certainly will be missed in Framingham.”
“Stephanie truly embodied a public servant and gave so much to Framingham. This is a tragic loss for the community,” said City Councilor Pam Richardson. “Condolences to her family and close friends. Such heartbreaking news.”
“Stephanie’s energy, enthusiasm and purpose enriched everything and everyone she touched,” said former State Rep. John Stefanini.
“In 40 years of political activity; I’ve never known an elected official with the responsibility of making controversial decisions that involved millions of dollars; who not one person, had a bad word to say about until I met Stephanie,” said Tully Stoll.
“She added great value to the Planning Board with her knowledge, expertise and professional approach to land use applications and zoning proposals. She provided a far minded, insightful review into every project and zoning initiative that came before the Board. I will miss her friendly smile and pleasant nature that made her a pleasure to work with on the Planning Board for the better part of the past 6 years. I will especially miss her sense of humor and how she would often have great stories to tell about being raised in Brooklyn, New York. Stephanie will be sorely missed by all but her many contributions will live on in her memory. A memorial event is being planned in her memory,” said Long.
“I like to express my sorrow and shock at the passing of a jewel of a person that Framingham will surely miss. Late Friday afternoon I had received word of Stephanie”s illness. I was shocked to hear that she had been so seriously ill, sitting next to her at every Planning Board meeting, she had made an extraordinary effort in keeping her illness to herself and not showing what she was going through, but you know, that doesn’t really surprise me,” said Framingham Planning Board member Lew Colten.
“Stephanie had a selfless and unselfish manner in which she always made the effort to help others by serving others for the greater good, to always do the right thing for the right reason,” said Colten. “As many of us who knew her will express the privilege of knowing her and I am grateful to having worked with her and served with her at many levels, grateful for her support and the effort that she provided to me in my election campaign for Planning Board and the patient help in my learning curve on the planning Board. I will miss her, her infectious laughter and everything about her. Her suffering ended and her peace with the Lord is all that I pray for.”
“When I first met Stephanie, she was a student at Northeastern, studying with a well-known Massachusetts politician. You probably know him as former Governor Mike Dukakis. She also worked with our former State Rep/State Senator Dave Magnani. Stephanie was always a supporter of State Senator Karen Spilka (currently Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee). Stephanie also served Framingham for many years as a member of the Planning Board. She was also a very pro-active member of the Framingham Democratic Town Committee. When it came to campaigning, if she said she’d hold a sign on a street corner somewhere in support of a candidate, rain or shine, she’d be the first one there and the last one to go home,” said Framingham Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joan Rastani, who was a member of the Framingham Democratic Town Committee with Mercandetti. “Then, there were all those parades, always on the very hottest of summer days – Marlboro’s Labor Day Parade, Natick’s Fourth of July Parade, and those in Ashland, Franklin, Sudbury, etc. I cannot even remember how many MA State Democratic Conventions we’ve attended.”
Rastani said “I would be remiss if I did not share with you what a fantastic baker Stephanie was. Democrats love to get together to talk and eat. Stephanie made these awesome cookies with pine nuts in them and lots of Italian pastries containing fruit. They didn’t just look pretty they were delicious, too.”
“I was at a loss for words when I heard that Stephanie had passed. We will miss her very much. After much thought I decided that The Good Lord must be planning a really big campaign soon and he wanted to have Stephanie on his side,” said Rastani.
“She did private consulting work, and had recently embarked upon a new business endeavor creating jewelry. I often called her ‘Cookie’ since she was an incredibly talented baker of all types of Italian pastries,” said Long.
“I don’t know of anyone else who was so positive, so strong, so smart, and a friend to everyone she met. No one can find a negative word to say about Stephanie. She stands out among all the people I know for her kindness, good nature, and personal dignity,” said Norma Shulman.
“Today, we all grieve the loss of a tireless public servant with a heart of gold and a contagious sense of humor,” said State Rep. Jack Lewis. “Stephanie touched so many lives, and I am honored to have known her.”
“I loved seeing her Facebook posts of cooking, baking, or creative jewelry projects,” said Shulman.
“At her young age, she was already so accomplished in her profession, and shared that knowledge and experience with her community as a member of the Planning Board. Let us honor her by following her example,” said Shulman.
“Her warm smile and hearty laugh added brightness to every life she touched. She and I dedicated a lot of time to the same advocacy groups and we worked on each other’s campaigns. The strongest passion we shared however; was our love and devotion to our young nephews. If you wanted to see Stephanie’s face light up like a Christmas tree; all you had to do was ask about Henry. I was so happy to meet him at her 40th birthday party. Once I told him I was one of her friends; I was in; and he started chatting away. He was as sweet, friendly and genuine as she was. The picture of the two of them together is the one that will live in my heart forever,” said Tully Stoll.
Visiting hours will be on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Norton Funeral Home in Framingham.
There will be a Funeral Mass at St Stephen’s Church in Framingham on Thursday at 10 a.m.