Gov­er­nor Albert D. Roselli­ni, who served as Wash­ing­ton State’s chief exec­u­tive in the late 1950s and ear­ly 1960s, died today from com­pli­ca­tions of pneu­mo­nia, his fam­i­ly announced today. He was a hun­dred and one years old.

Since leav­ing office at the end of 1964, Roselli­ni has been a friend and men­tor to gen­er­a­tions of Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers. His annu­al birth­day par­ties, attend­ed by Wash­ing­ton’s oth­er liv­ing gov­er­nors, became media events.

And he him­self remained active in pol­i­tics; he appeared reg­u­lar­ly at Demo­c­ra­t­ic gath­er­ings late into his life, such as the South King Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Din­ner held ear­li­er this year by the 30th Dis­trict Democrats.

“Wash­ing­ton State lost one of its bright­est stars today,” said cur­rent Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire in a state­ment released to the press. “Gov­er­nor Al Roselli­ni was a tire­less leader who changed the state for the bet­ter in count­less ways. My heart goes out to his fam­i­ly on this day of incred­i­ble loss.”

“From the state’s diverse econ­o­my to the bridge across Lake Wash­ing­ton that shares his name, Gov­er­nor Rosellini’s lega­cy and the state we cher­ish are in many ways one in the same. Incred­i­ble as his accom­plish­ments in office may have been, Gov­er­nor Roselli­ni was so much more than his record. He was a trust­ed men­tor and beloved friend, and the count­less lives he touched, includ­ing mine, may be his great­est lega­cy. I cher­ished the time we spent together.”

“I called on Gov­er­nor Roselli­ni for ideas, advice and, more than a few times, a good laugh. He offered all three with equal insight and enthu­si­asm at 101 years old. The rose he wore on his lapel to help peo­ple pro­nounce his name illus­trat­ed some of his traits I most admired: prac­ti­cal with a dash of charis­ma and a bit of fun thrown in for good mea­sure. He was a dear friend who I will for­ev­er remem­ber as ‘The Gov.’”

Sec­re­tary of State Sam Reed, a Repub­li­can, echoed Gre­goire’s sentiments.

“This is a tremen­dous loss for the state of Wash­ing­ton. It’s been a priv­i­lege know­ing Al. I first met him when he was still Gov­er­nor. Al was very charm­ing and affa­ble. He gave me a lot of encour­age­ment through­out my career, espe­cial­ly dur­ing my years as Sec­re­tary of State. He will be great­ly missed.”

“Even at 101 years old, Gov. Roselli­ni was an unde­ni­able force in Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics – nev­er fail­ing to lend Democ­rats his sup­port, advice and good humor.  He epit­o­mized what a leader could accom­plish with a lit­tle bit of for­ward think­ing and a lot of deter­mi­na­tion,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Par­ty Chair Dwight Pelz. 

“I am sad­dened to learn of Gov­er­nor Rosellini’s pass­ing,” said Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell. “He was a leader who always focused on Wash­ing­ton’s econ­o­my and our future. He remained active in par­ty pol­i­tics and caus­es like qual­i­ty health care even up to the age of 100. Today, his impact endures across Wash­ing­ton state: from the 520 float­ing bridge to the UW School of Med­i­cine to our jus­tice and men­tal health systems.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to his fam­i­ly and his many friends.”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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