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Suzanne Carcieri, former Rhode Island first lady, dies

November 15, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Former Rhode Island first lady Suzanne Carcieri, who took a visible role during the administration of her husband, Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, died Thursday. She was 76.

“Sue was my life partner and best friend, my most trusted adviser, and the heart and soul of our family,” the former governor said in a written statement Thursday.

The family did not release the cause of her death.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered Rhode Island flags lowered to half-staff, saying Carcieri served the state “with grace and dignity.”

Suzanne Owren Carcieri was high school sweethearts with her husband while growing up in East Greenwich. They were married two weeks after graduating from college, and their union lasted 53 years. They have four children and 14 grandchildren.

During her husband’s two terms in office, from 2003 to 2011, she would often sit in on his news conferences and advocate on her own for various social causes. She also occasionally waded into politics and was vocal in opposing abortion, including by speaking at a rally in the Statehouse rotunda during which participants prayed the rosary.

Tributes poured in Thursday from public officials and those who knew the Carcieris during different stages of their lives. Democratic state Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell posted on Facebook that Carcieri was her freshman biology professor at St. Joseph’s Teachers’ College in Kingston, Jamaica, when the family moved there while Don Carcieri worked at the Catholic Relief Service.

“She was an amazing and loving woman,” Ranglin-Vassell wrote.

David Tikoian, who ran Carcieri’s security detail, told WPRI-TV she was generous and always concerned about others, and he remembered her work to ensure heating assistance for low-income Rhode Islanders.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said she “contributed her time and talents to many causes and helped make Rhode Island a better place.”

Carcieri survived ovarian cancer before her husband’s election in 2002, and she underwent a quadruple heart bypass during his first term.

A Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for Tuesday at Our Lady of Mercy Church in East Greenwich.

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