UPDATED: Sue Carcieri, Wife of Former RI Governor Donald Carcieri, Passes Away

Thursday, November 15, 2018


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Sue Carcieri

Suzanne Carcieri, the wife of former Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, has passed away. 

Don Carcieri was the 73rd Governor of Rhode Island, serving from January 2003 to January 2011.

The Carcieri family moved to Kingston, Jamaica, in 1981 to work for Catholic Relief Services before returning to Rhode Island two years later, when Don Carcieri worked for the Cookson Group. 

In 2015, the state's former First Lady was added to the Wall of Honor at East Greenwich High School for her service to Rhode Island.

Mrs. Carcieri was 76 years old.  SEE FULL BIO AT BOTTOM

Rhode Islanders Remember First Lady

"Very saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs. Carcieri.  A wonderful lady who Rhode Island will sorely miss," said former Carcieri staffer Jeff Britt.

"When I think if Sue, I think of the large loving family that she led -- the children and grandchildren," said former Rhode Island General Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio, "I know it's a loss for them, and a loss for the state."

Former Governor Lincoln Chafee added his remembrance of Mrs. Carcieri on Thursday.

"I think most memorable was her role during the Station Fire. Both she and the Governor rose to the occasion above and beyond the call of duty, visiting families around the region," said Chafee. "They both made Rhode proud in representing the state so admirably."

Former top staffer and now CEO of Deepwater Wind Jeff Grybowski tells GoLocal, "Mrs. Carcieri was a loving and caring woman. She was also a gracious first lady and I know her family’s loss is shared by many." 

“First Lady Carcieri carried herself with such grace and dignity.  During my eight years on the Governor’s Executive Security Detail, I witnessed firsthand her gentle, caring nature," said North Providence Chief of Police David Tikoian. "She was a very generous and compassionate person, always concerned about others.  Her efforts to help those in need with heating assistance is just a small example of her passion to always give back.  She was a wonderful woman, always seeing the good in people, greeting them with a gentle smile. Those that had the good fortune to meet her will agree she was a very vibrant, uplifting, positive person. I will miss her dearly.”

Madeline "Maddy" Parmenter, who handled media relations for the Carcieri Administration from 2003 to 2005, remembered the relationship between the Carcieris. 

"What I remember most is how much she and the Governor loved each other. They were always holding hands. You could see it in their eyes when they were together. It seemed like there was no one else in the room but the two of them. That kind of love is so rare and so special," said Parmenter. 

Former Attorney General Arlene Violet shared remembrances of the former First Lady.

"I think she was a fabulous woman who did a lot of charity work. I did a fundraiser with her for Opera Providence. She and I were supposed to sing -- I was joking she wanted me to go first to warm up for her, as she really had a good voice," said Violet. "She said, 'Oh no, that's not it!' So we did 'Sisters' together. It was at the Bay Voyage in Jamestown. I said, 'We got a standing ovation! She said "Oh no, there's just not enough seats.'" 

"So that was Sue. She was funny and down to earth. Another time -- I took her to lunch, to thank her for some help on a charity of mine, at the Providence Art Club. They had tapioca pudding. She took a bite and said, 'Mmm, I love this,' and didn't eat any more. I asked her why, and she said 'I'm bringing it back to the State House, it's Don's favorite.' I said I think I could get another one for him, but that was just who she was -- she'd never think about imposing," said Violet. "She was just a delight, smart and generous in spirit."

Carcieri Bio

Born in Providence, daughter of Ivar and Patricia Owren, she graduated from East Greenwich High School and was the first Miss East Greenwich and runner-up for Miss Rhode lsland in 1960.  She attended the University of Rhode Island, where she received the university’s first biology degree.  In her adulthood, she went on to receive a master’s degree in health education at Rhode Island College.  She was a beloved middle-school teacher at both Immaculate Conception School in Kingston, Jamaica and Our Lady of Mercy Parish School in East Greenwich.  She was the First Lady of the State of Rhode Island from 2003 to 2011.

Besides her husband, she leaves her son Matthew Carcieri and his wife Kristin; daughter Alison Carcieri-Cassidy and her husband Scott; daughter Jill Buckley and her husband Chuck; daughter Sarah Compton and her husband Adam; and brothers Stephen Owren, John Owren, and David Owren.  She had fourteen grandchildren: Bridget and her husband Max, Samantha, Chase, Kayla, Anna, Jack, Charlie, Nick, Donovan, Benjamin, William, Colin, Henry and Susannah.

She will long be remembered and adored for her love, kindness, generosity, intelligence, and wit.  She was gracious to all, passionate in her advocacy, and deeply devoted to family and friends.  She found pure joy surrounded by her grandchildren in the revelry of summertime fun and once said, “I really am mostly a mother, a grandmother and a wife.”

She was a devout Roman Catholic and a member of Our Lady of Mercy Church and was dedicated to many causes, including Missionaries of the Poor and Mustard Seed Communities.  As First Lady, she led a statewide wellness initiative and convened a task force for the prevention of substance abuse.  She created the annual “Governor’s Best” juried art show, conceived a popular intrastate tourism initiative (“Rhode Islanders Touring Rhode Island”) and inaugurated and chaired six “Celebrate Rhode Island” balls benefiting the Good Neighbor Energy Fund.  She received honorary awards from her high school, college, and the American Heart Association.  She was passionate about education and promoted achievement by youth in science, and each year presented an award in her name to the middle school winner of the State’s science fair at an annual State House event.

Governor Carcieri expressed his appreciation to all those who have extended condolences, saying, “Thank you for the outpouring of thoughts and prayers for Sue and for all of us, and a special thanks to Governor Raimondo and First Gentleman Moffit.  Sue was my life partner and best friend, my most trusted advisor, and the heart and soul of our family.” The Carcieris were married 53 years. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, November 20th at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 65 Third St., East Greenwich.  Burial will be in St. Patrick Cemetery, East Greenwich.  Calling hours will be held on Monday, November 19th at the Hill Funeral Home, 822 Main St., East Greenwich.  In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to Mustard Seed Communities USA or Lifespan Cancer Institute.

Updated Thursday, November 15 5:30 p.m.


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