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Former governor Bruce Sundlun dead at 91

July 21, 2011

The tributes are pouring in for former Governor Bruce Sundlun, who led the state from 1991-1995 and will be best remembered for his strong leadership during the state banking crisis.

From US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who was an aide to Sundlun:

I mourn the passing of Bruce Sundlun, a beloved friend and mentor.  Bruce’s accomplishments as an athlete, soldier, lawyer, businessman and politician would each make his a memorable life; together they made him one of the most remarkable and accomplished Rhode Islanders in our history.  But most who knew Bruce will remember him for his personality: warm-hearted and funny, impatient and irrepressible, courageous and determined.  No one who knew Bruce ever doubted where he stood.  He was a towering figure in our state’s history and a vibrant figure in the lives of his friends and family.  My love, thoughts and prayers are with them.

US Senator Jack Reed:

Bruce Sundlun lived a remarkable life.  A decorated World War II fighter pilot and a distinguished Governor, Bruce Sundlun devoted his career to our state and nation.  He was an inspiring public servant who exemplified selfless sacrifice and decency.

I extend my sincere condolences to his wife Soozie and the entire Sundlun family.

 US Representative Jim Langevin:

 My thoughts and prayers go out to Governor Sundlun’s family at this difficult time.

 I was proud to work with Bruce going back to our time as delegates together at the state’s constitutional convention and then as a legislator when he served our state with distinction as governor. His was truly a life well-lived, an extraordinarily well-rounded and accomplished life from his time as an enlisted member of the Army Air Corps, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart, to the leadership he provided our state, to his dedication to civic and community organizations.

I will always treasure the time we spent together. In particular, I remember our trip when I invited him as my guest to the World War II Memorial dedication inWashingtonand how proud Bruce was of his country and his fellow veterans who gave their lives for values that he so cherished.

 As we mourn his loss today, we also know that the indelible positive mark Bruce left by serving so many people, places and institutions in Rhode Islandand beyond can never be erased. I was so lucky to have been able to call him a friend.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Former Staffer permalink
    July 22, 2011 3:56 am

    Bruce Sundlun was my first boss out of college. He was tough but fair. He was pragmatic. He taught while ruling with an iron fist. I remember our first meeting to this day. He instructed a rival of his dissatisfaction with a distortion of the truth and proceeded to provide him with ample commentary about his feelings. After a boisterous five minute discussion the phone was brought to its cradle with vigor, and Bruce looked at me and said. “Kid, don’t ever miss a golden opportunity to stay silent. Now – what’s your name and what have you got for me.” I learned a lot that day and in the years to follow. He taught me that courage is rare, and often unappreciated. He taught me to fight for what you believe in even when it seems that the victory may seem in many ways Pyrrhic.

    Years later I received an award for my work and found myself at the podium in front of hundreds remembering that my first boss told me “Never miss a golden opportunity to stay silent. So I say simply thank you I am honored.” I was lucky to have met Bruce Sundlun, he left an indelible mark on me.


  1. Sundlun bio project in the works at URI « On Politics
  2. State Police arrest + charge former bookkeeper for the Sundluns in fraud case « On Politics

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