During this holiday season it is a blessing to give and share with family and friends. As we recall all of the reasons we are thankful, to the celebration of gift giving and the ringing in of a new year, we should always remember people who have passed on, and who gave of themselves without pause to uplift others. And so this holiday season, I remember Connecticut State Senator, Lewis "Lew" Rome.
It has been said that the value of a man is not measured by what he does for himself to make his life easier, but is measured by what he does for others to make their lives easier. Lewis Rome was such a man. The one time Mayor of the All American town - Bloomfield, Connecticut, Rome was also a State Senator, and Board of Trustees Chairman for the University of Connecticut, and he worked tirelessly as a champion for people's rights.
Lewis Rome passed away at age 81 on July 1st, 2015, but his legacy lives on through his family and the many great accomplishments he made for the people of the state of Connecticut.
Lew Fasano, the minority leader in the Connecticut State Senate said of Rome, "Lew Rome was a giant! As the majority and minority leader in the Senate and as an advocate for higher education and quality health care, he set the standard for service to others."
Throughout his career, Rome stood for what made sense for the common good of people across party lines. He was an advocate of equal rights for women from his earliest days as a lawyer and politician. Anne Dranginis, a former Superior Court judge, and Rome's law partner, recalled meeting Rome upon graduating from the UConn law school in 1972, the first class in which women accounted for 10 percent of the members.
Many of the women were having difficulty finding jobs when Dranginis heard Rome tell a radio interviewer that he would hire a female lawyer. Dranginis said she called him and he hired her. Soon after, Rome got a complaint that a client said he did not want to go to court with a "girl" lawyer. Lew simply told him, 'Maybe you should get yourself a new lawyer."
That was the kind of man Lew Rome was, and is why his memory and legacy lives on.
Lew Rome's Career
An Attorney, former Bloomfield Mayor, Connecticut State Senator and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Connecticut, "Lew, as he was referred to by friends and colleagues, will be remembered for his leadership and tireless commitment to Connecticut," friends said.
"Lew Rome dedicated his career to public service," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday. "Whether as a leader of the state Senate or as chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees, he advocated for issues he cared about deeply."
After graduating from Bloomfield High School in 1950, Rome obtained an undergraduate degree in history at UConn and attended the UConn School of Law. He founded his own law practice in Bloomfield with Richard A. Case shortly after graduating and went on to found two larger law firms based in Hartford – Rome, Kennelly and Klebanoff and Rome McGuigan, which he started in 1995 with former Chief State's Attorney Austin McGuigan.
Rome served on the town council of Bloomfield from 1961 to 1969, and then as the town's mayor from 1965 to 1969. In 1970 he was elected to the state Senate, where he developed a reputation for his bipartisanship and pragmatism. After serving as majority leader from 1973 to 1975 and minority leader from 1975 to 1979, he ran for governor as the Republican challenger to incumbent William O'Neill.
Although he lost that election, Rome's campaign earned him numerous endorsements and accolades. An editorial endorsement by the New York Times called him "energetic, organized and approachable."
Rome was also known as a great mediator – someone who had the ability to cross party lines to find a reasonable and practical middle ground.
"Lew was a tremendous compromiser and he always facilitated consensus," said Rep. David Baram, whose 15th House District includes Bloomfield. "He was the kind of individual who engendered outreach and inclusion."
Rome was an active member of the UConn Law School Foundation from 1975 to 1982, and served as president in 1980.
After he left politics, Rome worked on the Department of Higher Education Task Force from 1984 to 1986, followed by a stint on the UConn task force on athletics from 1986 to 1989. He received an outstanding alumnus award from UConn law in 1979, and a university medal from UConn in 1997.
Perhaps his biggest role at UConn was from 1992 to 1997, when Rome was chairman of the board of trustees. During his tenure, Rome was an integral force in getting the UConn 2000 project off the ground. The project, approved in 1995, cost $1 billion over the course of 10 years to rebuild the school's infrastructure.
Rome was also at the center of a major push on the part of UConn and the New England Patriots to reach a deal to move the NFL team to Hartford. Rome called for the building of a new football stadium to be used by the Huskies, as well as by the Patriots. Although the deal was unsuccessful, the Huskies did get a new stadium – Rentschler Field – built in 2003.
"Lew Rome epitomized public service," University President Susan Herbst and current chairman of the board of trustees Lawrence McHugh said in a joint statement. "His aspirations and ambitions for the University of Connecticut were boundless and his enthusiasm for the institution could not be contained."
[Source: The Hartford Courant, by Kelly Glista & Meaghan Latella, July 2nd, 2015]
He was a true class act."
— A. Ryan McGuigan, former CT. Chief State's Attorney and Rome's Law Partner
His support was something upon which I could always rely. He demanded impeccable ethical behavior."
— Anne Dranginis, Lew Rome's Law Partner
Lew Rome in Photos
The Value of a man is not measured by what he does for himself to make his life easier, But, measured by what he does for others to make their lives easier."
— Eric Thomas