By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Best wishes to Paul Cellucci

Paul Cellucci

Media Nation pauses this morning in order to offer its best wishes to former governor Paul Cellucci, who announced last week that he is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

I dug up this profile of Cellucci that I wrote for the Boston Phoenix in 1997. It’s a lot harsher than I remember; it came out at a time when Cellucci’s political fortunes seemed to be at a low ebb. But I distinctly remember being impressed with what a good guy Cellucci was (and is), friendly and down-to-earth with everyone he met.

Going back even further, I recall covering a debate between him and then-Democratic state senator Dick Kraus in 1988 at the Arlington public-access studio. Cellucci was a Republican state senator from Hudson at the time, and he and Kraus were acting as surrogates for presidential candidates George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. I remember being impressed with Cellucci and Kraus’ substantive, civil discussion.

Cellucci was a big deal at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. My then-Phoenix colleague Seth Gitell (now spokesman for Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo) and I were assigned to stay at the same hotel as the Massachusetts delegates — and, as it turned out, George W. Bush was staying there, too, which at the time was taken as a sign of Cellucci’s close ties to the Bush family. It didn’t hurt that Cellucci was a friend of Andrew Card, who would become Bush’s first-term chief of staff.

Cellucci also threw the party of the week, a great outdoor affair at what I believe was the 9th Street Italian Market. (Seth will correct me if I’m wrong.) At one point we were hit with a downpour, and Seth, the Boston Globe’s Joanna Weiss and I sought shelter under an awning.

Cellucci’s reward — the ambassadorship to Canada — may have fallen short of his hopes, but he served without complaint.

Lou Gehrig’s is a devastating illness, but may Cellucci nevertheless enjoy as long and healthy a life as is possible with that diagnosis.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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11 Comments

  1. Agreed, Dan. Paul has always been a great guy. I haven’t seen him in years, but I remember him to always being approachable, going back to his state rep days.

  2. Matt Kelly

    Can’t say I liked his job as governor, but that’s nothing unusual. He always struck me as a nice enough person and I certainly wouldn’t wish ALS on anyone– here’s to hoping he still has many productive years left. Seems to have a tremendously good attitude and perspective on the situation; more power to him.

  3. Jon Keller

    An honest man and true gentleman.

  4. Jeff Goldings

    I recall Gov. Cellucci as a caring, sweet, approachable,
    and thoughtful gentleman. When he was governor, I approached him to
    ask if he would sign my copy of the Massachusetts Constitution. He
    enthusiastically agreed and joked that I only really needed to
    study Chapter II, Section I (Executive Power/The Governor) to
    understand the important elements of the Constitution. I recall
    Gov. Cellucci had a fondness for occasionally playing the ponies. I
    offer my prayers to Mr. Cellucci and his family that he hits the
    medical superfecta of staving off the devastating effects of ALS
    for many years to come.

  5. Christian Avard

    A good friend of mine worked for former state rep. Nancy Flavin for years. I remember asking him in ’98 if he was going to vote for Scott Harshbarger and he said he was voting for Cellucci instead. My friend said Cellucci was nice to everyone in the Statehouse and always said hello, no matter how well he knew you. Harshbarger was the opposite of that. Sometimes it’s the small things that people remember you the most by. For my friend, it was Cellucci’s friendliness … and he remembered it in the voting booth that election year.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Christian: Scott Harshbarger is one of the nicest people I know in politics. And so is Paul Cellucci.

  6. Rick Peterson

    Right now we should celebrate people like Gov. Cellucci who can disagree without being disagreeable. Only met him a few times at events but he always struck me as a guy who listened more than he talked.

  7. Christian Avard

    Dan, I’m sure Scott Harshbarger was nice to know. I’m just recounting my good friend’s take on Harshbarger. What I remember most from my friend was that Harshbarger would often walk down the halls of the statehouse with a sense of entitlement and self-importance. He didn’t acknowledge others who weren’t like him. Cellucci did.

    Again, I’m not discounting your experiences with Harshbarger. The few times I met him, he was really pleasant! I’m just relating my friend’s experiences with Harshbarger and Cellucci. My friend’s been around the state house for a long, long time. Then again, there’s probably folks who’ve been around the statehouse just as long as my friend who will say nothing but great things about Harshbarger.

  8. I remember that downpour, too, Dan! As a political figure, Cellucci was a class act in the old-school way, and if his sole legacy was naming the Zakim bridge, that would be enough.

  9. Mike Rice

    Best wishes to Paul Cellucci indeed… and to all others who are suffering from a debilitating or devastating illness. There’s nothing worse.

  10. Richard Lyons

    The Italian medical doctor, Paolo Zamboni, of the University of Ferrara developed
    the theory of CCSVI (cerebrospino venous insufficiency) in connection with his
    wife’s multiple sclerosis. He performed an angioplasty procedure on her to address the problem of malformed veins blocking the proper flow of blood from the brain and the CNS to the heart that refluxed and left deleterious iron deposits in the brain. His wife was effectively cured. There is an issue of restenosis of the veins that medical doctors are working on in clinical trials being conducted throughout the world. Recent research has also identified that the CCSVI angioplasty and stent procedure have been helpful for other neurological disorders, including ALS. Please check out the website for the CCSVI Alliance for a well developed scientific discussion of the CCSVI procedure. Paul should discuss the matter with an interventional radiologist to determine if he has the malformed venous condition known as CCSVI. Neurologists have generally opposed the CCSVI procedure, perhaps because of “turf” concerns.
    However, I believe Paul has nothing to lose and should pursue the CCSVI option with an open mind. Please convey this message to Paul.

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