There was a sad note at the Rhode Island State House this afternoon as the 2015 General Assembly opened the legislative session: Conspicuously missing from the press tables at the head of the chambers was veteran Statehouse political reporter and columnist Jim Baron, who died yesterday. He was 57.
Baron was a longtime presence. A tall, burly guy, he was a great reporter and an even better person. A Syracuse University journalism graduate, Baron was a fine writer and great reporter admired by colleagues and the people he covered. He was honest and hard-working and was a walking encyclopedia of State House politics and intrigue. A collegial man, Baron was especially generous with young reporters and his colleagues.
``I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Pawtucket Times- Woonsocket Call reporter Jim Baron,’’ said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, in a statement. ``He was a real professional and Rhode Island will miss his reporting and his voice. My condolences go out to all his family and friends.’’
In a statement, Governor Gina Raimondo said, “As one of Rhode Island’s most respected, knowledgeable and seasoned political reporters, Jim Baron brought great integrity and curiosity to all of the stories and columns he penned over the years. His keen insights on life and politics in Rhode Island will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Baron worked for small Rhode Island newspapers, but at the State House his influence was much larger the readership of the newspapers he wrote for. Jim was a great deadline writer. The state's political community avidly followed his political writing and his `Politics As Usual' columns. His intellectual honesty, humor and devotion to his craft won him the respect of the Rhode Island press corps, his readers and the people he covered. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his wonderful and loving spouse, Denise Perrault.
-- with reports from Ian Donnis