J. Joseph Garrahy

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J. Joseph Garrahy
J. Joseph Garrahy, Rhode Island Governor.jpg
69th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
January 4, 1977 – January 1, 1985
Lieutenant Thomas R. DiLuglio
Preceded by Philip W. Noel
Succeeded by Edward D. DiPrete
61st Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island
In office
January 7, 1969 – January 4, 1977
Governor Frank Licht
Philip W. Noel
Preceded by Joseph O'Donnell Jr.
Succeeded by Thomas R. DiLuglio
Member of the
Rhode Island Senate
In office
Personal details
Born John Joseph Garrahy
(1930-11-26)November 26, 1930
Providence, Rhode Island
Died January 24, 2012(2012-01-24) (aged 81)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margherite DePietro
Children 5
Residence East Greenwich
Alma mater University at Buffalo University of Rhode Island
Profession Politician
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1953-1955
Battles/wars Korean War

John Joseph Garrahy (November 26, 1930 – January 24, 2012), known to Rhode Islanders as J. Joseph Garrahy or just "Joe," was an American politician. He served as the 69th Governor of Rhode Island from 1977 to 1985.

Early life

Garrahy was born on November 26, 1930 in Providence, Rhode Island. Garrahy achieved the rank of Eagle Scout on August 25, 1947, at age 16.[1] He attended La Salle Academy in Providence,[2] and in 1952 he attended the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. In 1953, he attended the University of Rhode Island. Later that year, Garrahy joined the United States Air Force, where he served until 1955. After his military service, Garrahy married Margherite De Pietro with whom he had five children.[3] Garrahy embarked on a business career, primarily as a salesman with the Narragansett Brewing Company.[4]

Political career

Garrahy was elected to the Rhode Island Senate in 1962 as a Democrat, and served there until 1968. While in the Senate, he also served as Deputy Majority leader from 1963 onwards.

In 1968, Garrahy was elected the 61st Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island, and served in that office until 1977.


In November 1976 Garrahy was elected Governor of Rhode Island, defeating Republican James Taft in the general election. He took office in January 1977 and served as governor until 1985, after being reelected in 1978, 1980 and 1982.

The defining event of Garrahy's governorship was the Great Blizzard of 1978 when the entire state was inundated with between three and five feet of snow. Grarrahy lived in his office at the Rhode Island State House in Providence for a week until the crisis was under control. Garrahy was remembered for wearing a white turtleneck sweater under a red and black plaid flannel shirt during the crisis and became a template for public officials reacting to similar situations. Garrahy's naturally calm demeanor and pleasant personality provided comfort to many Rhode Islanders in distress during the blizzard's aftermath.

In 1980, Garrahy traveled to the Soviet Union as part of an arms control delegation. He did not seek re-election in 1984.

Although Republican candidates in Rhode Island were largely successful in the 1984 elections, Garrahy was not seen as a primary factor in their success. Despite political reform being a major campaign theme for Republicans that year, there were no scandals associated with Garrahy.

Later life

In 1988, Garrahy was named to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He had served on the board of the Providence and Worcester Railroad since 1992. He was active in the Knights of Columbus, and was also an active Rhode Island Commodore. Garrahy died in Florida on January 24, 2012.[5] He was buried at New Saint Francis Cemetery in South Kingstown.[6]


  1. "Late R.I. Gov. Garrahy getting national Eagle Scout Award". Providence Journal 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Governor Joseph Garrahy '48 Dies". La Salle Academy. Retrieved April 21, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "J. Joseph Garrahy". NNDB.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Dee, DeQuattro (January 25, 2012). "Former Gov. Garrahy Passes Away, Remembered as a Legend". WPRO Radio. East Providence, RI.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Former RI Governor J. Joseph Garrahy Passes Away". ABC 6 News. January 25, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. J. Joseph Garrahy at Find a Grave

Further reading

  • Raimo, John. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1978-1983. Meckler Publishing. p. 269. ISBN 0-930466-62-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Gannon, Tom (May 7, 1989). "Who's Hot and Who's not in R.I.". The Boston Globe.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph O'Donnell Jr.
Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Thomas R. DiLuglio
Preceded by
Philip W. Noel
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Edward D. DiPrete