Former Rhode Island First Lady Sue Carcieri has died at age 76, following an illness.
“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," former Gov. Don Carcieri, who served from 2003 to 2011, said in a statement Thursday. "Sue was my life partner and best friend, my most trusted advisor, and the heart and soul of our family.”
The Carcieri were married for 53 years.
According to a statement distributed by Amy Kempe, who worked in the Carcieri administration, Sue Carcieri also "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," Sue Carcieri's family said. "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."
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, November 20 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.
Gov. Gina Raimondo directed state flags to be lowered to half-staff at honor Carcieri.
"Sue Carcieri was a smart, passionate and caring First Lady who served Rhode Island with grace and dignity," Raimondo said in a statement. "She was deeply dedicated to causes that moved her, fighting for breast cancer awareness and heating assistance for Rhode Islanders in need. Andy and I are keeping her loved ones, particularly Governor Carcieri and their children, in our prayers during this difficult time."
State Republican Chairman Brandon Bell recalled Sue Carcieri as "a beautiful light in this world and we are forever thankful for your kindness and friendship."
State Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, who was a student of Sue Carcieri’s when the Carcieris spent time in Jamaica in the early 1980s offered this remembrance on social media: “I am so sorry to learn of the passing today of former First Lady Sue Carcieri. She was an amazing and loving woman who was my freshman Biology professor at St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College in Kingston, Jamaica I. 1982. May she rest in Eternal Peace, my love and prayers to former Governor Carcieri and the entire family.”
Tributes flowed in from other elected officials.
“Sue Carcieri was a dedicated mother, grandmother, wife, First Lady, teacher, cancer survivor, and citizen," said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed. "She contributed her time and talents to many causes and helped make Rhode Island a better place. We are deeply saddened by her passing and extend our heartfelt sympathies to Governor Carcieri and their children and grandchildren, who were the light of her life.”
After a long business career, Don Carcieri emerged to dominate the GOP field for governor in 2002. He beat Democrat Myrth York to win the governor’s office, and won re-election in 2006 by narrowly defeating Democratic Lieutenant Governor Charles Fogarty.
This report has been updated.