Ella Tambussi Grasso (May 10, 1919 – February 5, 1981) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 83rd Governor of Connecticut from January 8, 1975 to December 31, 1980. She was the first woman elected to this office and the first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state without having been the spouse or widow of a former governor. She resigned as Governor due to her battle with ovarian cancer.
Grasso started in politics as a member of the League of Women Voters and Democratic speech writer. She was first elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1952, becoming the first female Floor Leader in 1955. Her next office was Secretary of State of Connecticut, where she won re-election twice. Grasso went on to serve to serve two terms in the United States House of Representatives, from 1970-1974.
|83rd Governor of Connecticut|
January 8, 1975 – December 31, 1980
William A. O'Neill
|Preceded by||Thomas Meskill|
|Succeeded by||William A. O'Neill|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Connecticut's 6th district
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1975
|Preceded by||Thomas Meskill|
|Succeeded by||Toby Moffett|
|64th Secretary of the State of Connecticut|
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1971
|Preceded by||Mildred Allen|
|Succeeded by||Gloria Schaffer|
Ella Rosa Giovianna Oliva Tambussi
May 10, 1919
Windsor Locks, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||February 5, 1981 (aged 61)|
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
(m. 1942; died 1981)
|Education||Mount Holyoke College (BA, MA)|
Ella Rosa Giovianna Oliva Tambussi was born in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to Italian immigrant parents Maria (née Oliva) and Giacomo Tambussi, a mill worker. Ella Tambussi learned to speak fluent italian from her parents. She attended Chaffee School in Windsor. Although she excelled at Chaffee and was named most likely to become mayor in the school year book, Tambussi claimed she often felt out of place as someone from a poor mill town. She went on to study sociology and economics at Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she earned her B.A. in 1940. Two years later, she earned a master's degree, also from Mount Holyoke.
After graduation, she served as a researcher for the War Manpower Commission in Washington, D.C., rising to the position of assistant director of research before leaving the Commission in 1946. She married Thomas Grasso in 1942, and together they owned a movie theater on Long Island. In the summers, the pair would operate the theater, with Ella Grosso selling tickets at the box office.
Grasso's entry into politics came in 1942 when she joined the League of Women Voters. Grasso was briefly a registered Republican before switching to the Democratic Party. In 1943, she became a speech writer for the Connecticut Democratic Party. Through the Connecticut Democratic Party, she met and became an ally of John M. Bailey. Bailey would become a key figure in Grasso's career, recognizing her as someone who could appeal to voters, particularly women and Italian voters in the state.
In 1952, Grasso was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives and served until 1957. She became first woman to be elected Floor Leader of the House in 1955. As a state representative, Grosso worked to eliminate counties as a level of government in Connecticut. In 1958 she was elected Secretary of the State of Connecticut and was re-elected in 1962 and 1966. She was an architects of the state's 1960 Constitution.
She was the first woman to chair the Democratic State Platform Committee and served from 1956 to 1968. She served as a member of the Platform Drafting Committee for the 1960 Democratic National Convention. She was the co-chairman for the Resolutions Committee for the Democratic National Conventions of 1964 and 1968.
In 1970 she ran for the United States House of Representatives in Connecticut's Sixth District. The seat was open after sitting Congressman Thomas Meskill chose to run for Governor. Grasso faced Republican Richard Kilborn in the general election. Grass won and was elected as a representative to the 92nd Congress, and won re-election in 1972.
In 1974, Grasso did not run for re-election to Congress, instead running for the Connecticut governorship. Democratic Party leader John Bailey preferred Robert Killian as the party nominee. Grasso persuaded Killian that she should run for Governor instead and Killian became the nominee for Lieutenant Governor. Her opponent was Republican Congressman Robert Steele. She defeated Steele by 200,000 votes. Grasso was the first woman who was elected governor without being the wife or widow of a past governor.
Upon taking office, Grasso promised fiscal responsibility. In furtherance of that promise, Grasso returned to the state treasury a $7,000 raise she was legally required to take. Grasso also sold the state's limo and plane.
Grasso was re-elected in 1978 with little difficulty.
A high point of her career was her decisive handling of a particularly devastating snow storm in February 1978. Known as "Winter Storm Larry" and now known as "The Blizzard of 78" this storm dropped around 30 inches of snow across the state, crippling highways and making virtually all roads impassable. She "Closed the State" by proclamation, forbade all use of public roads by businesses and citizens, and closed all businesses, effectively closing all citizens in their homes. This relieved the rescue and cleanup authorities from the need to help the mounting number of stuck cars and instead allowed clean-up and emergency services for shut-ins to proceed. The crisis ended on the third day, and she received accolades from all state sectors for her leadership and strength.
In March 1980, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and resigned from office on December 31.
Grasso married Thomas Grasso, a school principal, in 1942. Together they had two children, Susanne and James. During Grasso's tenure in the United States House of Representatives, her family remained in Connecticut while Grasso commuted home from Washington, D.C. on weekends. Thomas Grasso retired when Ella Grosso became governor. Both children went on to become teachers.
Less than a year after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Grosso died on February 5, 1981 at the age of 61.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Women's Hall of Fame inducted her in 1993. She was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame in 1994; the Ella Tambussi Grasso Center for Women in Politics is located there.
Metro North named Shoreliner I car 6252 after her. Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical High School in Groton is named after her. The Ella T. Grasso Turnpike in Windsor Locks is named after her, as are Ella Grasso Boulevard in New Britain and Ella T. Grasso Boulevard (often referred to by New Haven locals simply as "The Boulevard") in New Haven.
Over two years after her death Arch Communications Corp., won a construction permit for Hartford's channel 61 in September 1983; James Grasso was minority partner in Arch Communications. Arch Communications Corp. planned to memorialize Grasso by using the call letters "WETG" for channel 61, as Grasso's initials were ETG, however, Channel 61 came on the air September 17, 1984 as WTIC-TV, and was dedicated in Grasso's honor.
| Secretary of the State of Connecticut
| Governor of Connecticut
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 6th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut
| Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
The 1978 Connecticut gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1978. Incumbent Democrat Ella Grasso defeated Republican nominee Ronald A. Sarasin with 59.15% of the vote.Barbara B. Kennelly
Barbara Bailey Kennelly (born July 10, 1936) is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut.Beaver Hills, New Haven
Beaver Hills is a neighborhood in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. The older, east central portion of the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Beaver Hills Historic District. The southwest portion is a state historic district called the Fairlawn-Nettleton Historic District.The name “Beaver Hills” dates to the Colonial era, when it was a piece of high ground near several "beaver ponds". Geologist James Dwight Dana later attributed the "Beaver Pond" to natural springs, rather than the activity of beavers.The Beaver Hills Historic District covers 97 acres (39 ha) of the neighborhood north of Goffe Street and east of Ella Grasso Boulevard. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and included 235 contributing buildings. The listing recognized the district's significance as a nearly intact example of an early 20th-century suburban residential subdivision. The district in 1986 was composed mostly of single-family homes built between 1908 and 1936. One feature of note was the presence of "one of the city's best collections of early 20th-century garages." The district includes brick gateway piers at the intersections of Goffe Terrace with Norton Parkway and with Ellsworth Avenue, at the south end of the district. The piers include "tile plaques depicting beavers" and "were constructed by the Beaver Hills Company in 1908 to define the southern terminus of the neighborhood." Significant contributing properties in the historic district include the Pitkin House (1931 Tudor Revival style house at 207 Colony Road) and the Alan Krevit House (1936 Colonial Revival style house at 186 Colony Road)Betty Tianti
Betty L. Tianti (1929 – 1994) was an American trade union leader, the first woman in the United States to head a state labor federation, and the first state labor commissioner in Connecticut.Clarice McLean
Clarice "Dollie" McLean (born 1936) is founding executive director of the Artists Collective, Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut. McLean, born Clarice Helene Simmons in Antigua, West Indies, was raised in Manhattan, New York. She studied dance under Katherine Dunham, Jon Leone Destine, Asadata Dafora, and Martha Graham. In 1970 she and her husband Jackie McLean (whose vision and concept was the Artists Collective) enlisted local artists bassist Paul (PB) Brown, dancer Cheryl Smith, and visual artist Ionis Martin to join them in establishing the Artists Collective, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut.Connecticut River Museum
The Connecticut River Museum is a U.S. educational and cultural institution based at Steamboat Dock in Essex, Connecticut that focuses on the marine environment and maritime heritage of the Connecticut River Valley.The three-story Connecticut River Museum is located in a restored 1878 steamboat warehouse, which is now the only one of its type remaining on the river, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum opened to the public in 1975, with Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso as its first paid member and ex officio patron. The core of its collection came from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, which provided the museum with a loan of nautical artwork, navigation equipment and maritime-related artifacts.
The museum's main and third levels offer changing exhibits, while its second level is home to a permanent exhibition on shipbuilding, which includes historical maps and models of steamboats and exhibits on the piscine species in the Connecticut River.The museum's collection also includes a full-scale replica of Turtle, the first American submarine, which was constructed in Essex in 1776 for use against the British in the American Revolution. The museum property also includes a boathouse and a research library. In December 1995, the museum was given a triangular 1-acre (4,000 m2) waterfront property, valued at US$910,000, in the neighboring village of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, by Bill and Victoria Winterer, who were among the museums co-founders. The property is used as a waterfront park managed by the museum.
In 2011 the museum caught fire. They had to rebuild part of it.Connecticut Transit New Haven
Connecticut Transit New Haven is the second largest division of Connecticut Transit, providing service on 24 routes in 19 towns within the Greater New Haven and Lower Naugatuck River Valley areas, with connections to other CT Transit routes in Waterbury and Meriden, as well as connections to systems in Milford and Bridgeport at the Connecticut Post Mall.
Since 1979, the Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford divisions of CT Transit have been operated by First Transit. Service is operated seven days a week on 24 routes.David Garth
David Garth (b. David Lawrence Goldberg in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City on March 5, 1930 – d. December 15, 2014 in New York City) was an American political advertising consultant to first Democratic and later Republican office seekers initially in the State of New York and its largest municipality, New York City (though later his reach would extend to races in Connecticut and New Jersey). He was a pioneer in the use of Cinéma vérité for campaign spots.Garth was famed for promoting non household names to underdog wins. His first major triumph in the form of an election victory came in 1965, when John Lindsay was chosen to become the next Mayor of New York City.
In 1977 he helped to engineer the victory of Ed Koch over Mario Cuomo in the race for the office of the Mayor of New York City.
Later he was instrumental in two subsequent multiple term ballot box victories for Mayor of New York City; first by a Republican, Rudy Giuliani, and then by a Republican who later switched over to an independent affiliation party status, Michael Bloomberg.Garth also worked on gubernatorial campaigns of Ella Grasso in Connecticut and Brendan Byrne in New Jersey.Edgewood Park Historic District
Edgewood Historic District is a historic district located in the west-central portion of New Haven, Connecticut. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. A predominantly residential area roughly bisected by Edgewood Avenue, a broad boulevard which features a large central esplanade and forms the principal east-west artery through the heart of the district. The area includes 232 contributing buildings, 4 other contributing structures, and 1 contributing object. Most of these were built between about 1888 and 1900, and represent the city's first neighborhood planned under the tenets of the City Beautiful movement. They are generally either Queen Anne or Colonial Revival in style, and are set (especially on the boulevard-like Edgewood Avenue) on larger lots.
The district's most notable topographical feature is the West River, which runs through Edgewood Park in the eastern end of the district on a north-south axis. From the West River, the landscape
rapidly rises about forty feet to Yale Avenue on the west. Edgewood Park also includes memorials for the Spanish–American War and the Holocaust. The park's current layout was designed in 1910 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.. The district includes the central portion of the Edgewood neighborhood, which is generally the area bounded by Whalley Avenue, Sherman Avenue, Chapel Street, and Edgewood Park. The district also borders the Dwight Street Historic District on the east.Edgewood Avenue and is served by route 246 of Connecticut Transit New Haven. The main north-south road is Ella Grasso Boulevard (Route 10).Edna Negron Rosario
Edna Negron Rosario (born 1944) is an American educator who founded the first family resource center and school-based health clinic in the United States. She was inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.George Gunther
George Lackman "Doc" Gunther (November 22, 1919 – August 26, 2012) was the longest-serving state legislator in Connecticut history.
Senator Gunther represented the 21st Connecticut Senate District, comprising all of Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Monroe and Seymour, Connecticut, from 1966 to 2006. When Gunther retired in 2006, he was replaced by his protégé and former campaign manager, Dan Debicella from Shelton.
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he was a naturopath and had studied in Chicago, Illinois. Gunther first served on the Stratford Board of Education for four years, followed by five years on the Stratford Town Council, before being elected to the state Senate. Although he was the Deputy Minority Leader at Large for the Republican Party in the Connecticut Senate, Gunther had a reputation for following his own mind, particularly in regards to the welfare of Stratford. He was instrumental in Connecticut state government reform activities, including sponsoring formation of the state Property Review Committee to oversee state contracts. Gunther served for almost 20 years on the National Council of State Legislatures, and for more than 15 years on the Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Gunther had one of the longest and strongest reputations for environmentalism in the Connecticut legislature, stemming back to when the movement was known as conservation. While still on the Stratford Town Council, he sponsored the establishment of the first municipal conservation commission in Connecticut; then in his freshman year as state senator, he co-authored the first law to regulate and restrict activities allowed in tidal wetlands. He has been recognized many times by environmentalist and conservation groups for his opposition to pollution and his work to preserve the environment for hunters, fishermen, and the shell fishing industry. In 1975, he toured the ruins of the burned-out Sponge Rubber Products plant in Shelton with then Connecticut Governor Ella Grasso, which led to the eventual establishment of the property as Riverwalk Park, thirty years later. He served for nearly thirty years on the federal Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and in 1990 helped form the Housatonic River Estuary Commission to develop the recreational and commercial resources of the lower Housatonic River. He spearheaded opposition to construction of a large natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound, proposed by Broadwater Energy.
His interest in preserving the environment dovetailed with his advocacy of the recreation and tourism industries. He supported the revival of the Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford, and aided the purchase of the H.M.S. Rose by Kaye Williams in Bridgeport.
Another of Gunther's passions is Connecticut's aviation history. In 2005, he successfully sponsored a bill naming World War II's F4U Corsair fighter, developed and manufactured in Connecticut, as the state's official aircraft, and organized a Corsair Celebration and Symposium at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford for Memorial Day, May 29, 2006. Gunther was also instrumental in the state legislature's designation of Igor Sikorsky as a Connecticut Aviation Pioneer, and sponsored a bill supporting Gustav Whitehead's claim to having achieved controlled powered heavier-than-air flight in Bridgeport, two years before the Wright brothers' Kitty Hawk flight. Gunther hopes to see the Connecticut Air and Space Museum move to the former Stratford Army Engine Plant, when the U.S. Army terminates ownership of the property.
"Doc" Gunther died at 3am on August 26, 2012, in a hospice facility in Branford, Connecticut.James W. Fesler
James William Fesler (March 14, 1911 – April 26, 2005) was an American political scientist who was an expert in public administration and a professor at Yale University.Fesler was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1911, completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota, and then completed a PhD in political science at Harvard University. He was a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1935 to 1951, and at Yale University from 1951 until his retirement in 1979.Fesler's published works included The Independence of State Regulatory Agencies (1942), Area and Administration (1949), which explored state/space theory, The 50 States and Their Local Governments (1968) (with Karl Bosworth), Public Administration: Theory and Practice (1980), American Public Opinion: Patterns of the Past (1982), and The Politics of the Administrative Process (1991) (with Donald Kettl).
Fesler served as vice president of the American Political Science Association, associate editor of the American Political Science Review, and editor-in-chief of the Public Administration Review. He received the Dwight Waldo Award from the American Society for Public Administration in 1986 for his contributions to the literature on public administration, and received the John Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association in 1988. In 1984, a book was published in his honor, edited by Robert Golembiewski and Aaron Wildavsky, called The Costs of Federalism: In Honor of James W. Fesler.In addition to his scholarship, Fesler worked in public service, serving on President Roosevelt's National Resources Planning Board and then on the War Production Board during World War II. In Connecticut, he was a consultant to Governor Ella Grasso and to New Haven Mayor Richard C. Lee.Margo Rose
Margo Rose (1903–1997) was an American puppeteer.Martha Minerva Franklin
Martha Minerva Franklin (October 29, 1870 - September 26, 1968) was one of the first people to campaign for racial equality in nursing.Michael Sean Winters
Michael Sean Winters is an American journalist and writer who covers politics and events in the Roman Catholic Church for the National Catholic Reporter, where his blog "Distinctly Catholic" can be found. "Distinctly Catholic" received the Catholic Press Association award for "Best Individual Blog" multiple times. Winters is also the US correspondent for The Tablet, the London-based international Catholic weekly. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Winters is the author of Left At the Altar: How Democrats Lost The Catholics And How Catholics Can Save The Democrats. His biography of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, God's Right Hand: How Jerry Falwell Made God a Republican and Baptized the American Right was published by Harper One in January 2012.
Winters has described himself as an "Ella Grasso Democrat," a reference to the pro-labor, pro-life, pro-Israel Governor of Connecticut in the 1970s. On Catholic issues, he is frequently ranged in opposition to the conservative "culture warrior" approach, favoring positions that are both "orthodox" and "pastoral".Mory's
Mory's, known also as Mory's Temple Bar, is a private club adjacent to the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, United States, founded in 1849 and housed in a clubhouse that was originally a private home built some time before 1817. Originally it was a restaurant, especially hospitable to Yale undergraduates (it extended them credit), located at the corner of Temple and Center Streets, but in 1912, when the building was to be demolished, the owner and proprietor (since 1898), Louis Linder, sold it to a group of Yale alumni who moved the bar to 306 York Street and turned it into a membership club.After several years of operating losses and the 2008 financial crisis, the club closed indefinitely on December 19, 2008. Although the club had an endowment of $2 million, it was depleted by this poor performance and the market downturn in 2008-2009. After completion of a comprehensive business plan at the end of 2009 and progress on a fundraising effort, Mory's committed to a major renovation and a new business model in 2010. The fundraising effort and construction were completed in 2010 and Mory's reopened on August 25, 2010.The building was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.Membership in Mory's is now offered to all Yale students, employees, and alumni as well as members of the New Haven community with an affiliation to Yale. Membership was open to women in 1974 when the club was given the option by Governor Ella Grasso of remaining exclusively all male but without a liquor license. Yale undergraduates can join with a $15 membership fee that covers all four years at Yale. Alumni living within 30 miles of Mory's pay a $99 annual fee, while alumni living over 30 miles away pay a $49 annual fee.National Iwo Jima Memorial
The US National Iwo Jima Memorial is a memorial on Ella Grasso Boulevard, near the New Britain/Newington town line in Connecticut. It was erected by the Iwo Jima Survivors Association, Inc. of Newington, Connecticut. It was dedicated on February 23, 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. It is dedicated to the memory of the 6,821 US servicemen who gave their lives at Iwo Jima. Inscribed on the base are the names of the 100 men from Connecticut who gave their lives in the battle.The park also has an eternal flame and monuments dedicated to combat Medical Corps personnel and chaplains.Old Saybrook Senior High School
Old Saybrook High School is a secondary school located in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, United States. It has a current enrollment of 444. with a student to teacher ratio of about 9.74. Old Saybrook students consistently exceed national and state averages on standardized tests. The school, its students and its teachers have won numerous awards in academics, the arts, athletics and other areas.
In 1976, a re-creation of the first submarine ever used in battle, the American Turtle, was designed by Joseph Leary and constructed by Fred Frese as a Bicentennial project. It was christened by Connecticut's governor, Ella Grasso, and later tested in the Connecticut River. It is owned by the Connecticut River Museum and is currently on loan to Old Saybrook Senior High School, where students under the direction of Fred Frese are currently building a working re-creation of that model.
Old Saybrook High School is also known for its athletics and art programs. The 2012 wrestling and 2005 boys' basketball teams won their respective state championships. Old Saybrook High School's track and field teams have had much success in the previous years, winning several conference tournaments.William A. O'Neill
William Atchison O'Neill (August 11, 1930 – November 24, 2007) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 84th Governor of Connecticut from 1980 to 1991. He was the second longest-serving governor in Connecticut history, with 10 years in office.
Inductees to the National Women's Hall of Fame