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

Tag: Paul Cellucci

Three tough losses in Boston politics and media


Paul Cellucci

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.

Photo via Wikipedia.

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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