UPDATED: Former Governor Joseph Garrahy has Died

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


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Former Governor Joseph Garrahy has died, according to multiple media reports.

Garrahy is perhaps best remembered for his role in handling the blizzard of ’78.

He served as Governor from 1977 to 1985.

GoLocalProv has been compiling statements from various elected officials and former friends and aides to Governor throughout the day.

Governor Chafee: He Had an Unending Love for the People of Rhode Island

"I was shocked and saddened to learn this morning of the passing of former Governor J. Joseph Garrahy. Governor Garrahy truly had an unending love for the people of Rhode Island, and in return he earned the respect, admiration, and affection of the people of this great state. He was a true gentleman, down-to-earth and lacking any pretense.

"Governor Garrahy had a gift for making progress quickly while managing to make as few waves as possible in the process. He was unassuming, but he delivered results. Many of us will always think of him in his famous flannel shirt, rising to the occasion to guide Rhode Island through the devastating Blizzard of ’78.

"Much of Governor Garrahy’s family still lives here and remains part of the fabric of our state. My thoughts and sympathy are with them during this difficult time. I hope that they are able to find some comfort – as so many Rhode Islanders will – in their many fine memories of him."

Former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci: A Wonderful Legacy

“I ran against him for Governor in 1980. That was the only election I ever lost. But we were friends afterwards. We worked together after that. We set up the Narragansett Bay Commission and the Capital Center Commission. He from a different era in politics. He rose above the political machinery that elected him. He left a wonderful legacy and everyone is going to miss him. My condolences and sympathies to his family.”

Former Governor Edward DiPrete: A Good Friend

"The death of Governor Garrahy is a sad event for all Rhode Islanders. He was a highly intelligent person who quickly grasped the confidence of all who dealt with him. In my Mayor days in Cranston we talked frequently about public issues and worked closely together for the betterment of our State. I always regarded him as a good friend and especially appreciated his advice to me when I succeeded him as Governor. He was a good man! My deep sympathies go to Marguerite and to their entire family."

Senator Reed: A Great Statesman

“Rhode Island has lost a great statesman and we have all lost a great friend. Joe Garrahy combined courageous leadership, unimpeachable decency, and a warm and embracing spirit. His example sustained us and inspired us, and it will continue to do so. My deepest condolences to his wife, Margherite, and his wonderful and loving family.”

Congressman Langevin: A Friend and Mentor

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Governor Garrahy’s family at this difficult time. Governor Garrahy was a friend and mentor. He set the highest standards for public service and inspired others to try to live up those standards, myself included. Like so many Rhode Islanders, I remember his incredible leadership through numerous challenges, including the assurance he provided to us during the historic blizzard of 1978. He was truly in government for the right reasons. I will miss his friendship and advice, and join my fellow Rhode Islanders in expressing our gratitude for his commitment to serving others.”

Congressman Cicilline: Beloved Public Servant

“Governor Garrahy first entered public service as a member of the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Of course, Rhode Islanders will always know him as the affable son of Providence who led our state decisively, especially during the Blizzard of 1978. Governor Garrahy’s legacy, established during the four terms he served as Governor, will continue to live on in our memories. He was a beloved public servant who was respected and known for his integrity. Governor Garrahy’s family is in my thoughts and prayers today.”

GoLocalProv Meteorologist John Ghiorse: A Fine Public Servant

"I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Joe Garrahy. He was one of the finest public servants in Rhode Island history and a wonderful human being. Of course he is best known for his heroics during the Blizzard of '78 but his firm leadership and his kindnesses and concern for all Rhode Islanders are his true legacy. I want extend my most heartfelt sympathy to his family."

House Speaker Gordon Fox: An Elder Statesman

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Governor Garrahy, who will always be remembered for his even-handed and steady leadership at the helm of our state. I considered him one of the true elder statesmen of the Democratic Party who inspired us in the next generation to carry on his legacy of honesty, hard work and dedication to the people of Rhode Island. I was very fond of the way he always made himself available to me and others in the General Assembly to provide us with advice and guidance.”

Bill Brody: A Nice Man

Bill Brody, who served a executive counsel for three years under Garrahy, remembered the Governor as the "nicest man I've ever met in government."

"Everybody liked him. He was a lot people say the really nice governor of any state. He was the nicest man that I've ever met in government. He was as good a man on the inside as he seemed on the outside.

"He had a personal way about him that he was able to avoid any personal differences. You wish that everyone in government could be like him and we’d have a perfect government."

Doherty: Garrahy was a Mentor

Congressional Candidate and former head of the state police Brendan Doherty issued the following statement:

"I began my career with the Rhode Island State Police under Governor Garrahy and have been fortunate to develop a lasting friendship with him over the year. I am proud to have had Governor Garrahy as a mentor. We were together last week in Florida and as usual, the best advice he gave me was not about politics, but the importance of family, values and humanity. Rhode Island has lost a great statesman."

Lt. Gov: A Beloved Leader

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of former Governor J. Joseph Garrahy, a beloved leader who was deeply committed to our state and to all Rhode Islanders," Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts said." My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time. He will be greatly missed."

Sec. of State: A True Friend

“This is sad day for the Garrahy family and for all Rhode Islanders. Governor Garrahy was a role model for us all. His commitment to public service continued on well after he left office.When those of us who followed in his footsteps sought his advice, he was generous with his time and wise with his counsel. He was a true friend.”

Dem Party Chairman: A Dedicated Public Servant

Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman Ed Pacheco issued the following statement on the passing of Governor J. Joseph Garrahy:

“My heartfelt condolences go out to the Garrahy family. As Rhode Islanders, we mourn the loss of our 69th governor - an icon in the State of Rhode Island, a true and dedicated public servant. A state senator, deputy majority leader, lieutenant governor, governor and Democratic Party chairman, Garrahy’s stewardship serves as a model and his leadership had a tremendous impact on our state.

The younger generations, like me, only remember him for guiding Rhode Islanders through the Blizzard of ’78, but that steadfast, compassionate leadership was emblematic of the confident strength that he delivered to Rhode Islanders for decades. Governor Garrahy was and shall remain part of the fabric of the Ocean State.”


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