Dr. Frederick M. Kalisz Jr., 63, died Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at St. Luke’s Hospital due to complications from the CoVid virus. He was the husband of Patricia (Neville) Kalisz; they celebrated their 25th Anniversary this past July. He is the father of Frederick Michael (Ricky) Kalisz, III.
Frederick was the son of the late Irena G. (Gula) Kalisz and the late Frederick M. Kalisz and was a lifelong resident of New Bedford.
He earned his Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University. He received Masters and Bachelors degrees from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in Public Policy and Business Administration/Management respectively. He graduated from Bishop Stang High School, Dartmouth and Saint Anthony Elementary School, New Bedford. He also attended St. Killian School, New Bedford and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, New Bedford. He was a lifelong parishioner of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Bedford.
Fred was elected Mayor of the City of New Bedford in 1997 and served the city from 1998 through 2006. Since 2017, Fred served the community as the Register of Deeds for Bristol County Southern District. Fred also served the citizens as the Ward 2 City Councilor for nine years. He taught courses on Public Policy and Management at several Colleges/Universities.
As Mayor of New Bedford, Fred’s most notable accomplishments are the building of 3 middle schools and obtaining over 90% state funding for the construction. The first school was completed in a record 18 months, on time and on budget; this was the first city school building project in over 30 years. He also worked closely with the Environmental Protection Agency on the clean-up of Brownfields sites across the city. He was responsible for bringing fast-ferry service to New Bedford and revitalization of the city’s stagnant economy through the creation of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Mayor Kalisz’s economic development plan led to the creation of thousands of new jobs, strengthened existing commerce and brought hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investment to the city. In addition, major infrastructure improvements were made to road, port, rail, and water/wastewater systems.
During his time as Mayor, Dr. Kalisz served as chairman of the local school committee, the water board, and the region’s workforce investment board. During his term of office he was officially recognized by five Cabinet-level federal agencies and by the Massachusetts Governor’s office. He was appointed by the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to serve on a federal advisory task force studying the future needs and impact of Superfund environmental legislation.
As mayor, through his involvement with Brownfields Programs -- the revitalization of polluted/toxic land in the city, he was credited with initiating a number of Brownfields programs in the city including the designation of “showcase community” – a national recognition presented by a federal interagency task force lead by the EPA, and was later selected as one of only three Portfields Pilot Communities by NOAA/Commerce Department for advancement of environmental remediation and economic development potential as a deep-water port community. Mayor Kalisz was appointed by the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to serve on a federal task force that studies the future needs and impact of Superfund legislation.
Mayor Kalisz addressed numerous audiences on the elements of Brownfields topics including a special presentation made at the White House to members of the presidential staff. Kalisz has maintained good working relations with local, state and federal government officials and has lifelong experiences with familiarity with the territory of the southern district of Bristol County.
Much of the success he enjoyed leading the City came from results attributed to the work done on Beacon Hill with governors, the legislature, and the various departments of state government.
He was instrumental to the revitalization of downtown New Bedford, working with state leaders to locate the UMASS Dartmouth campus at the old Star Store building. A key component was the construction of the city’s Zeiterion Performing Arts Center’s parking garage and his efforts supporting local artisans. Another key component of downtown revitalization was permitting for new housing, apartments and restaurants. He was credited with working collaboratively with the then New Bedford Industrial Park Foundation to create thousands of new jobs at the park during his tenure as Mayor.
Fred was honored to work with so many cultural and civic organizations across the city – helping to promote their accomplishments and make New Bedford a better place for all; notably the Prince Henry Society, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Club Madeirense SS Sacramento, Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, Day of Portugal Committee, Madeiran Heritage Museum, Senhor da Pedra Club, Club Recordações de Portugal, Polish Benefit Society, New Bedford Port Society , New Bedford Chamber of Commerce, North, South and Downtown business associations, Neighborhoods United, Buttonwood Park Zoological Society, Whaling City Youth Baseball League, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and so many more.
While his accomplishments as mayor are many, his most identifiable quality was his ability to understand the needs of the city and its people. Fred never considered himself a politician; rather he was a servant of the people, doing whatever he could to make their quality of life better. He was known for “answering the phone” and doing all he could to help solve a problem. Fred was a “good man”. He made us all better people for knowing him.
Committed to serving his community his entire life, Fred was actively involved in many community service organizations and activities since a young age. Notably, he was a member of the New Bedford Jaycees since 1975, a Jaycees International Senator (JCI), the former State Field Director for the Miss Massachusetts Scholarship Foundation and the former Executive Director and Chairman of the Miss New Bedford Scholarship Program. His commitment to the Miss New Bedford Program provided not only scholarships for the young women of Greater New Bedford, but enduring friendships. Fred was also active with the National Junior Achievement Program and maintained lifelong friendships across our nation with members and volunteers. Fred was actively involved in his parish church throughout his life as an Altar Server, the parish council, and coordinator for the annual fairs, bazaars and picnics. One of Fred’s early accomplishments was serving as the chairman of AirFair '79, the largest air and ground display ever conducted in the New Bedford/Southeastern Massachusetts area.
Dr. Kalisz returned to public service as the Register of the Bristol County (Southern District) Registry of Deeds in 2017. Through his leadership, and collaborative efforts with the Registry staff, the Closing Rooms were renovated and furnished, electronic recording was implemented, online access to recorded and registered documents was enhanced, and overall Registry operations were improved for staff and patrons.
In addition to his elected public service, Fred was the Executive Director of the Parents Alliance for Catholic Education; he was a Senior Leadership Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He was the Program Coordinator of the Buzzards Bay Project Toxics Use Reduction Program and the Executive Director of Junior Achievement of Greater Fall River. In his early years, he was a Center Manager for Junior Achievement of Greater New Bedford and Salesman/Consultant at his uncle’s lumber yard, Kalisz Plywood, Inc. in New Bedford.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia and son, Frederick III.
He is survived by his sister, Christine-Ann (Kalisz) McIntyre and husband, Atty. Joseph B. McIntyre of New Bedford; his brother, Michael S. Kalisz and wife, Marlene of Acushnet, brother-in-law, Michael Neville and wife, Yvonne of Somerset, sister-in-law, Joanne (Neville) Brisson and husband, Michael of Somerset.
He is also survived by two aunts, Stephanie (Gula) Wisz and Jean (Pengilly) Kalisz; nephew, Paul A. DeCouto, Jr.; niece, Kali Knight and husband, Adam; nephew, Michael S. Kalisz, Jr., nephew, Christopher J. McIntyre, niece, Victoria Mae Kalisz; nephew, Erik Neville and wife, Valerie; niece, Kristen (Neville) Smith and husband, Kyle; nephew, Paul Brisson and wife, Krystal; niece, Sarah (Brisson) Donovan and husband, Matt; great nieces: Lila, Faith and Jovie Knight, Lexie and Hannah Neville, Kelsie Smith, Leah and Harper Brisson, Emma Donavan; great nephews, Chase and Myles Smith, Brayden Donovan; many cousins and their children, extended family, close friends and Fred and Pat’s recent new family member, their pet Cockapoo, Cooper.
Arrangements and private services are by the Machnowski Funeral Home, 472 Ashley Blvd., New Bedford. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held privately for his family. A celebration of Fred’s life will be planned for a later date when it is safe to gather. A complete online obituary is available at machnowskifuneral.com In lieu of flowers, a scholarship fund is being created in honor of Dr. Frederick M. Kalisz, Jr.; details will be provided when available here and on social media.
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