John Winthrop Sears was a legendary figure in state politics and public service. He held positions in Boston, Suffolk County and state government, carrying on a family tradition of leadership that dated all the way back to John Winthrop, one of the earliest governors of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and for whom the Town of Winthrop is named.
Mr. Sears, who lived in Beacon Hill and was a widely admired and charismatic guest at numerous local events, died unexpectedly on Nov. 4, 2014. He was 83.
Mr. Sears graduated from St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Harvard University and Harvard Law School. He studied as a Rhode Scholar and was a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Upon his graduation from Harvard Law School, Mr. Sears took a job in finance at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York City. He later worked at the firm’s Boston office before deciding to enter the political arena.
A Republican, Mr. Sears was elected to serve two terms (1965-68) in the Mass. House of Representatives, representing a Boston district that included Beacon Hill.
In 1968, Mr. Sears ran for mayor of Boston, finishing third in a 10-candidate field behind Louise Day Hicks and Kevin White, who went on to win in the general election.
Mr. Sears served as Suffolk County sheriff in 1968, having been appointed by Governor John Volpe. He was a commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission from 1970 to 1975 and was chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
Mr. Sears was a candidate for Secretary of State in 1978 and was elected to the Boston City Council in 1979. Mr. Sears became the Republican nominee for Governor of Massachusetts in 1982 but lost in the final election to Michael S. Dukakis.
In addition to his distinguished career in politics and public service, Mr. Sears also garnered recognition for his excellent writings in local history.
Mr. Sears leaves his twin sister, Anne Ware Wilson of Boston.
The date of a service for Mr. Sears will be announced.