The ceremonies, which concluded with a receiving line for public officials and members of the public to pay their respects to Cellucci and his family, including his wife Jan, their two daughters and four grandchildren, attracted a slew of familiar faces long absent from the marbled halls of the capitol.
“A lot of the people who were here haven’t seen each other in quite some time so it’s sort of bringing back the old Cellucci crowd so I think it was a really nice sendoff for him. Very touching,” said former Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei.
Tisei, whose father died of ALS, said very few politicians, let alone Republicans from Massachusetts, have worked their way up the chain of power from local to state and then national politics.
“I think since Calvin Coolidge, Paul probably comes the closest to touching all the bases climbing up the political ladder,” Tisei said.
Having begun his political career by election to the Hudson Charter Commission, Cellucci was elected to the House in 1976, and was elected to the state Senate in 1984 before Weld tapped him to run with him in 1990. In 1997, when Weld left to pursue an ambassadorship to Mexico, Cellucci assumed the governorship, and in 2001 bestowed the state’s chief executive duties to Swift, when he became ambassador to Canada. Choked up, Swift, the first woman to serve as governor, said Cellucci “gave me an opportunity of a lifetime to govern a Commonwealth he loved.”
Early into Patrick’s first term, which began in 2007, Cellucci reached out and asked Patrick to play golf with him, an outing in the Berkshires that Patrick said offered an “insight” into Cellucci’s character.
“Mostly we talked. I kept wondering what his agenda was, but as far as I could ever tell there was none,” Patrick said. “We talked about politics, and governing, about families and careers and life after governing, and then some more about politics and governing.”