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.”