The Boston political and media worlds have suffered three tough losses recently. The most prominent was former governor Paul Cellucci, who died on Saturday after a courageous battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Cellucci was a dedicated public servant and a class act. The first time I met him was in 1988, when he and Dick Kraus — both of them were state senators — debated as stand-ins for George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis at the Arlington cable studios.
I got to know Cellucci better when I was working on a profile of him for The Boston Phoenix in 1997. The then-lieutenant governor’s career was at a low ebb — The Boston Globe had revealed that he’d run up $750,000 in personal debt, and state Treasurer Joe Malone was thought by many observers to be the frontrunner for the 1998 Republican nomination for governor.
But Cellucci came across as polite, philosophical, even funny, responding “Are you talkin’ to me?” when someone told him he resembed Robert De Niro.
“This is a very cyclical business,” Cellucci told me at the time. “You’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to catch some breaks. And some years you catch the breaks, some years you don’t.”
He steady demeanor served him well both in his political career and in his illness. The following year Cellucci was elected governor; he later served as ambassador to Canada. Since announcing in 2011 that he had ALS, he had been a visible and effective advocate for research into the disease. He will be missed.
• Richard Gaines was a legendary longtime editor of the Phoenix. Yet even though I worked there for nearly 15 years, our paths never crossed. (We met once at a party.) Today many former Phoenicians and others who knew him are mourning his death at the age of 69.
Gaines led a “tumultuous life,” to borrow a description from a friend of mine who worked with him. He was widely praised for his intelligence and his skill as a reporter and editor. In the latter part of his career he worked for the Gloucester Times, where he became a respected expert on that city’s troubled fishing industry.
I got to know Gaines’ wife, Nancy Gaines, when she worked at the Phoenix in the late 1990s. My thoughts go out to her at this sad and difficult time.
• Christopher Cox was someone whose byline I remember seeing in the Boston Herald, but I had no idea about how many lives he had touched until he died recently, and his friends began paying tribute to him on Facebook.
I also had no idea what an accomplished journalist he was until I read this tribute by David Perry in The Sun of Lowell, where Cox had also worked. A remarkable life and career. Read it.