John N. Dempsey

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John Noel Dempsey
81st Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 21, 1961 – January 6, 1971
Lieutenant Anthony J. Armentano
Samuel J. Tedesco
Fred J. Doocy
Attilio R. Frassinelli
Preceded by Abraham A. Ribicoff
Succeeded by Thomas J. Meskill
Personal details
Born (1915-01-03)January 3, 1915
Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland.
Died July 16, 1989(1989-07-16) (aged 74)
Killingly, Connecticut
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Frey
Religion Roman Catholic
This article is about the Connecticut politician. For other people with the same name, see John Dempsey (disambiguation)

John Noel Dempsey (January 3, 1915 – July 16, 1989), was an American politician, born in Ireland, who was the 81st Governor of Connecticut. He was a Democrat, and began his political career at the age of 21 serving on the Putnam City Council. He later served as mayor of Putnam, before being elected to Governor of Connecticut.

John Dempsey suffered from lung cancer later in life, dying in 1989 at his home. He was 74 years of age. The academic teaching hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center was named "John Dempsey Hospital" in his honor.


Dempsey was born in Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland. He was the only son of a career British Army officer. In 1925, the family moved to Putnam, Connecticut, in the northeastern corner of the state. He worked there in the textile industry and then in the Town Hall, which made the start for his rise in state politics. While living in Putnam, Dempsey was the Soccer Coach at the Pomfret School in Pomfret. He was married to Mary Frey and they had three sons and a daughter.

Political career[edit]

Dempsey was an Democrat. In 1936 he was elected to the Putnam City Council at the age of 21.

From 1948 he had six two-year terms as mayor of Putnam, serving until he became Governor in 1961. He was elected to the Connecticut state House of Representatives in 1949, but managed to divide his time between state and local affairs. He served in the General Assembly until 1955, when he became executive secretary of governor Abraham A. Ribicoff.

Dempsey was the 74th Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut during Ribicoff's last term as governor, from 1959-1961, When Ribicoff resigned as Governor of Connecticut to become a member of President John F. Kennedy's Cabinet. Dempsey succeeded him becoming the first person to hold this position since the early colonial period who had been born in Europe. He also began a 30-year period in which the former Puritan colony had only Catholic governors in office.[1] He served from January 21, 1961 to January 6, 1971.[1] In 1969, leaders of both parties introduced the Legislative Management Act to establish support staff and control the operating budget of the Assembly. Both houses voted unanimously to override his veto, and the General Assembly emerged as a co-equal branch of government. He was an ally of party chairman John M. Bailey. He chose not to run for re-election in 1970 and was succeeded by Republican Thomas J. Meskill. During his tenure, he served on the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the National Governors' Conference Executive Committee from 1968 to 1969, and he chaired the New England Governors' Conference from 1963 to 1965 and the Democratic Governors' Conference from 1969 to 1970.[2] After leaving office, Dempsey became the President of the Indian Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

The University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut is known as John Dempsey Hospital. He was treated for lung cancer there himself in the last month of his life.[3] He died in his home, on July 16, 1989 (age 74 years, 194 days) at Killingly Center, Windham County, Connecticut. He is interred at Saint Mary Cemetery, Putnam, Windham County, Connecticut.[4]


  1. ^ a b "John N. Dempsey". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "John N. Dempsey". National Governors Association. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "John N. Dempsey". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "John N. Dempsey". Find A Grave. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Thomas J. Meskill