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Bradford Gorham

Bradford Gorham

(1935-2015) ~ Inducted 2016

Some individuals — very few in number — stand out from all others because of their outstanding talents and abilities. In this respect one thinks of athletes or entertainers. It is more rare, however, that a person stands above the crowd because of such qualities as integrity, earnestness, and demeanor. Brad Gorham was such a man. He exemplified those attributes in public life. In a term more common in British politics (as befit his ancestry), he was the gentlemanly, temperate, articulate leader of the loyal opposition. Brad was Rhode Islands “Mr. Republican.” He capped off his public career in a fitting manner in 2002 when he was named Rhode Island Republican Party chairman. Gorham, the son of Sayles and Ruth Gorham, was born in Providence on March 7, 1935 and raised on the citys East Side. As an honors graduate of Hope High School, he earned a scholarship to Dartmouth College. After his graduation from that prestigious Ivy League school, he earned a law degree from Harvard with honors. Between college and law school Gorham served as a platoon leader and company commander in the U.S. Marine Corps and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. In 1964, the year Brad passed the bar, he began his political career by securing election as a delegate to the state constitutional convention. In this body he was a persistent advocate of structural reforms in our state constitution. He earned election to the House of Representatives in 1968, then ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1970. Brad returned to the House in 1977 and rapidly rose to the position of minority leader, a post he held for eight years. He then served 4 years in the Senate after an unsuccessful run for attorney general in 1990. During his legislative tenure he argued for fiscal and judicial restraint while criticizing the growth of quasi- governmental state agencies removed from direct accountability to the voters. He spearheaded the passage of the states first recycling laws, including one dealing with auto batteries that became a national model. The recycling campaign rejected Brad s concern for the environment. He loved rural life and lived in a 1798 farmhouse in Foster where he worked the soil and raised Scottish Highland beef cattle. He was the lawyer and spokesman for the rural folk of Western Rhode Island serving as town solicitor at various times for Smithfield, Foster, Scituate, and Exeter, and also for East Greenwich and New Shorehan. He was also Glocester s probate judge and the attorney for the Exeter-West Greenwich School District. As a longtime public official Brad served on many governmental boards and commissions. In 2002, Senator Lincoln Chafee nominated Brad to be U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, but he withdrew shortly after the nomination when his wife, Diann who bore him five children, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After her death, Brad married Christine Callahan, a former Republican state representative from Middletown. Christine and Brad's five children survived him when he died in October, 2015.


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