PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Frank Montanaro Sr., a beloved labor leader and Rhode Island Democratic National Committeeman, has died at age 82.

The Providence Journal reports that House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello told lawmakers about Montanaro's death on Tuesday.

Montanaro became active in unions while serving as a firefighter. He was the president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO for 19 years. George Nee took over in 2009 after Montanaro Sr. decided not to run for re-election.

Rhode Island Democratic Party Chairman Joseph McNamara says Montanaro was the "first-ever member of Rhode Island's Electoral College."

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says he was a "fierce advocate for working families." Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called him a "local and national labor leader."

Montanaro Sr. is survived by his wife, three daughters and son Frank Montanaro Jr., a General Assembly staffer.