Former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci, 65, who became a vigorous fundraiser for research on ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, during his last years, died Saturday in Hudson, Mass.
His death of complications from ALS was announced by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he led a campaign to raise money for research that ultimately brought in nearly $2 million.
Cellucci had been diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, several years before he publicly disclosed it in 2011.
"He knew this wasn't going to help him, but he was determined that he could help others by working together with us," said Dr. Michael Collins, chancellor of the UMass Medical School. "In many ways this was the act of a selfless public servant, right up to the end."
Cellucci spent most of his adult life in politics, starting at the local level in his hometown of Hudson, where he was born April 24, 1948. In more than three decades, he never lost an election. He was a typically moderate New England Republican, fiscally conservative yet moderate to liberal on many social issues.
He was elected lieutenant governor on a ticket with former rival William Weld in 1990 and became acting governor in 1997 when Weld resigned to pursue an ambassadorship. Cellucci was elected governor in his own right in 1998, when he chose Jane M. Swift as his running mate for lieutenant governor. She became the only woman to lead the state when he left office in 2001 as U.S. ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush.
Cellucci also elevated Margaret H. Marshall to be the first female chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. During her tenure she wrote the decision that legalized gay marriage, in 2003.
—Times staff and wire reportsCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun