UPDATED: State Rep. Chris Walsh, 66, Loses Battle With Cancer

Originally posted at 8:05 a.m.  on May 3. Last updated at 10:45 a.m. on Friday, May 4.

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FRAMINGHAM – State Representative Chris Walsh, 66, died Wednesday night, May 2. He had been battling cancer.

“It has been a long year with 5 clinical trials and the cancer got the upper hand,” his wife Cindy posted this morning on Facebook.

Cindy told Source her husband would have wanted people to pay tribute to him by donating to the Danforth Museum at Framingham State University. (Select Danforth Art in Honor of Rep. Chris Walsh under designation tab.)

Cindy said Friday morning a memorial service is being planned for June.

Rep. Walsh was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the summer of 2015.

An architect, Walsh was elected as a state representative for Framingham in 2010. He represented the 6th Middlesex District, which was more than half of Framingham. State representatives Jack Lewis and Carmine Gentile, also represent Framingham. Rep. Walsh was vice chair on the house committee for Education.

Walsh wanted to be the City of Framingham’s first mayor. He announced his campaign and then withdrew his name, when his lymphoma returned last summer.

Walsh was a former elected Framingham Library trustee and a former past president of the Framingham Historical Society. He also chaired the Historic District Commission for the Town of Framingham previously.

“I am devastated,” said Senator Karen Spilka. “Chris dedicated his life to serving the community of Framingham with tremendous pride and passion. In the decades that I knew Chris, he was an indispensable colleague and a dear friend. He was the only architect serving in the Massachusetts Legislature and he generously shared his profound expertise with us all. He will be greatly missed by the entire legislature, and especially by the Framingham Legislative Delegation.”

“I would use the word gentleman to describe Chris Walsh,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “He cared deeply about the people he served, and was a passionate advocate for the needs of his district. While battling his illness, he always smiled and continued to show his caring commitment to his constituents. We will miss him! MetroWest lost a good friend today.”

“Our office was incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and my former colleague State Representative Chris Walsh,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark, this afternoon. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris’ family and friends. He was a dedicated public servant who cared deeply about his district and the Commonwealth. It was an honor to work alongside him to improve education for all children, and his legacy will impact the success of Massachusetts students long into the future. All of us will miss Chris’ high wattage smile and his friendship, humor, spirit and optimism. Chris, we are so grateful to have shared part of your journey, rest in peace good friend.”

“This is an extremely sad day for our city. Chris was the consummate community leader, a visionary who loved Framingham and was devoted to making our city a much better place to live and to bring up our children and grandchildren.  He was a gentleman who lived his life with dignity, courage and humor. Chris was truly loved by our city and will be forever missed,” said City Council Chair Dennis Giombetti. “On a personal note, like many in Framingham, I lost a dear friend.”

“Chris was a remarkable man, a dedicated public servant and a loyal friend. He cared deeply about his family and about Framingham,” said City Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll. “He fought a tough diagnosis with optimism, humor, dignity, candor and an amazing amount of courage. His and Cindy’s commitment to caring for both of his parents at home, despite their progressing Alzheimer’s, says more about his heart and character than anything I could possibly say. I am going to miss laughing with my wonderful friend and our ‘solving all of the problems of the world’ conversations.”

“Chris Walsh left us today, a ‘heartbreaking loss’ as one of his House colleagues noted, but his memory and spirit live on,” said Rep. Gentile. “Chris Walsh was a loving and thoughtful husband, father, son, and brother.  He loved his family, friends, and Framingham community. ”

“The world is a less joyous place today without my friend, Chris Walsh,” said Rep. Carolyn Dykema. “Chris’ warm spirit and constant cheer brightened every room. He was one in a million and will be so greatly missed.”

Rep. Gentile said Rep. Walsh “worked tirelessly in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to help Framingham and all residents of the Commonwealth.  He was especially sensitive to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable community members:  the very young, seniors, persons with disabilities.  Chris was a Renaissance man, interested and knowledgeable about the arts, science, architecture, education, history.  He was a great friend and enjoyed a wonderful wit and sense of humor inherited from his dad, Admiral Walsh.  My heart goes out to all his family members, friends, staff, and all whose lives were enhanced by their work and/or relationships with him.”

” I am sad at the loss of my dear friend and constant companion on governmental endeavors, but warmed by the reminders all around us of his infectious spirit, broad vision, meticulous attention to detail, and ability to collaborate to get results,” said former State Rep. John Stefanini.

“I am heartbroken to hear of Chris Walsh’s passing,” said Rep. Lewis. “Chris loved Framingham. He understood and loved its history and was never afraid to fight for a bold vision for its future. But I will most remember his love of architecture and how architecture could be used to explain anything.”

“Early in my term Chris was generous enough to drive me home,” said Rep. Lewis. “As I was trying to wrap my mind around the culture of the State House, Chris explained that all I needed to do was study the architecture of the building and it would all be clear. Chris, you were right and will be greatly missed. Thank you for your mentorship and friendship.”

“Framingham has suffered a great loss with the passing of Representative Chris Walsh. Representative Walsh was a tireless advocate for the Framingham community. As an architect, Chris had a vision of the future; carefully crafting legislation that would benefit every constituent today, tomorrow and the days to come,” issued a statement from the City of Framingham this afternoon.

“I have known Chris Walsh for nearly 30 years, and worked with him on many Framingham issues over the years, including planning, economic development, historic preservation, and environmental/open space issues.  At all times, I found him to be a tireless and loyal advocate for Framingham,” said City Solicitor Chris Petrini. “One of the qualities that I admired the most is that he knew how to disagree without being disagreeable, and maintained collegiality and civility  as major values to which he was faithful.  And because of the mutual respect  he brought to the table, others responded in kind.”

“Chris touched so many lives, including my own, leaving a lasting imprint. You could always feel his passion for his work and his love for Framingham. He was a genuine and kind soul and someone that I admired. He will be sorely missed,” said Mayor Yvonne M. Spicer, in a media release.

“I am sick with sadness having learned that Chris passed last night. He was truly a friend as well as a partner working to make Framingham a better community,” said former Framingham Town Manager Bob Halpin. “He was thoughtful and passionate in everything he did for his constituents and never lost sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, government is personal.  He would want us all to display kindness and civility as core personal and civic values.”

“Chris fought his battle against cancer with courage and dignity in a very public manner. It was truly inspiring to watch him continue to serve uninterrupted by his own challenges and it makes his loss all the much harder to deal with,” said City Councilor George King. “A very sad day for Framingham.”

“He he was so dedicated to this community. He worked so hard on so many project to make Framingham a better place,” said District 1 City Councilor Charlie Sisitsky. “He was very dedicated to Framingham, and very dedicated to his family. He was taking care of his father, and fighting this battle with cancer. But he never complained. He always looked at his cancer as if he was going to beat it. He made us believe that. All he cared about was serving this community.”

“This is such sad news. Chris was an outstanding State Rep and a great friend,” said former Selectman and School Committee member Mike Bower. “My thoughts and prayers are with Cindy, their children and the Admiral. Framingham mourns this tragic loss. Whenever I go for a walk on the aqueduct near my home I always think of Chris Walsh and Laurie Lee, the two who did so much to open them up for the residents to use. Now my visits to the aqueduct will bring me fond memories of a wonderful person who did so much for so many for so long. RIP my dear friend Chris Walsh.”

“Chris was such a passionate educational advocate and so supportive of Framingham State University,” said Framingham State President F. Javier Cevallos. “He played a major role in the preservation of the 1812 House, helping us secure funding to renovate and convert it into the MetroWest College Planning Center. He also played a key role in supporting our merger with Danforth Art Museum, and just recently helped us secure $100,000 in funding for the renovation of the property. In 2016, I was honored to present him with our Citizen Laureate Award at Commencement in recognition of his dedication to the Framingham community. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He will be sorely missed.”

“Rep. Chris Walsh was a model public servant and a truly decent man,” Tweeted Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, this afternoon. “Framingham has lost a tireless advocate, but I know his remarkable legacy of service will live on.”

“Chris was an extraordinary public servant,” said Framingham Library Director Mark Contois. “As a Library Trustee he was a tremendous advocate for library services, and he continued to be a leader for libraries when he went to Beacon Hill.”

“Chris was a very optimistic every time you saw him. He was always interested in listening to everyone,” said Contois. “He loved this library, and what libraries brought to a community. He always supported us. He will be greatly missed.”

“He will be sorely missed in our community for so many reasons. As an architect and Library Trustee, he  was so instrumental in helping our Building Committee and our director Mark Contois design and plan the new and gorgeous McAuliffe Library,” said Framingham Library Trustee Nancy Coville Wallace. “He was a man of many talents and a true community booster!”

“His passion was architecture. We would seek out his advice on that (McAuliffe Library) project often, and his advice was always spot on,” said Contois.

“Chris was a pleasure to work with as we went through the project to build the Christa McAuliffe Branch Library,” said Sam Klaidman, a Library Trustee and Chair of the Christa McAuliffe Library Building Committee. “He was always the voice of reason, making sure that all ideas were heard, and strongly believed that government buildings should be memorable.  That was a lesson for me and the rest of the building committee. ”

“In addition, I worked with Chris for almost two years as the Treasurer of his Committee To Elect.  What a gentleman,” said Klaidman. “He always placed his constituents ahead of himself and gave his time and efforts in ways that most of us would never imagine.”

“Chris was the dearest of friends to those who knew him, worked with him and who were his constituents . He was truly their advocates and their public servant in every way. He fiercely defended their rights and more importantly he defended what was right,” said Framingham Planning Board member Lewis Colten.

“I knew Chris for close to 30 years and as architects we supported and helped each other, solving problems that each of us would run into on occasion . We never competed with each other , which is a not the norm amongst the architectural community,” said Colten. “As a friend, I could always count on having an audience and commiserating about the issues at hand and as an observer, I would always witness Chris taking the time and spending the energy necessary to solve his visitors’ problems.”

“The design community and construction community has its difficulties in dealing with the regulatory agencies and Chris had been such a strong advocate in trying to level the playing field , and may be the only one, working tirelessly to create a fair and equitable environment that is to the benefit to everyone , always being the public servant,” said Colten. “For art that he has created in his architectural profession, the good that he has created in his public service to his community and the love he has created amongst his family, friends and those fortunate to have spent time with him. He will be sorely missed.”

“When I interviewed Chris for my book on older working men, he told me that he was the only architect serving in the State House,” said Elizabeth Fideler, a Framingham Library Trustee, who served with Walsh. “And, he explained, ‘People trained in design are good at conceptualizing; they tend to be good at redefining a problem or reframing a question so it can be solved.’ Chris demonstrated those problem-redefining and problem-solving skills not only as a state rep, but also as a member of the Library Board of Trustees. His dedication in both arenas was exemplary.”

“One of the fond memories I have of Chris is that 10 years ago he served as the architect for the renovation of 372 Union Ave., the offices of Petrini & Associates, ” said Petrini. “Many people have remarked over the years of how nice of a job he did with renovation and I couldn’t agree more.”

“I was so privileged to work for Chris as a legislative aide,” said Julie Watt Faqir, one of Rep. Walsh’s aides. “He cared so deeply for his constituents and his community. But more, he was genuinely compassionate and driven. He also was the best boss anyone could hope to work for. I for one, am a better person because he was also my boss and my friend.”

Walsh was a huge supporter of the arts – Danforth Art was one and Amazing Things Arts Center, where he served on the Board, for a while, was another.

“He’s been a strong advocate of Amazing Things since day one, having both sat on the Board and been chief designer of the Firehouse conversion. But Chris went well beyond Amazing Things in his support of Arts and Culture. He was a true friend to us personally and professionally and the world is definitely a little darker today without Chris to cheer us on,” said Amazing Things Executive Director Ellen Sturgis.

Walsh also was a big supporter of the Framingham History Center.

“There has been a sense of sadness that seems to prevail everywhere in our community.  When someone as connected as Chris was to so many of us it has such a profound impact.  He was a wonderful friend personally and an ardent supporter of the Framingham History Center,” said Executive Director Annie Murphy. “He was passionate about his community and its history. We mourn his loss while we celebrate his life with so many wonderful memories.”

“My most sincere condolences to the family and constituents of Rep. Chris Walsh. Chris could make you laugh, make you think, and inspire people into action. His advocacy for education, the environment, and the City of Framingham will be greatly missed. May he Rest In Peace,” Tweeted Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, this morning.

“Today is sad for the people that knew Chris Walsh, whether you knew him in passing or served in the legislature, he was well respected, and a true gentleman,” said Framingham House Authority member and former Town Meeting member Janet Leombruno.

Walsh, a Democrat, was elected in 1992 as a Town Meeting member, after moving to Framingham in 1989. In 2008, he ran for state rep against Pam Richardson and lost. In 2010, he defeated the incumbent Democrat. Richardson is now a City Councilor in Framingham for District 2.

“He didn’t choose his friends based on party lines,” said Leombruno, a Republican. “He just liked you for you. Above all, he loved to serve. He just left me a message about a week ago. He was returning my call, even apologizing for missing me. He kept working while sick, right to the end. That’s how he rolled.”

“I was energized by Representative Walsh when I first met him just about a year ago,” said Framingham Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay, who started in April 2017. “Despite his personal health challenges, he was resilient like nobody I had ever met. His vision for better connecting the schools with the great Framingham community and his passion for education was palpable. He will be missed as a friend of education and as a friend of mine.”

“Chris Walsh gave his time endlessly to the people of Framingham,” said former School Committee Chair Heather Connolly. “When I first ran for office Chris attending my first fundraiser. I did not know Chris at the time, but he came. Chris was a warm, caring person, who listened -a true gentleman. He will be missed by all.”

“Chris Walsh was my mentor, my friend, a visionary architect, and a genuine leader who I loved having represent me on Beacon Hill. I would not be a School Committee member without his encouragement,” said Framingham School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg. “I don’t believe Framingham would be a city without him. I know our city’s downtown wouldn’t be on a path towards revitalization without his vision and support. As the only architect in the state legislature, I love how Chris saw opportunities differently and respectfully designed solutions to complex problems.”

“Chris Walsh’s dedication, and open doors to all, made a difference in my life, and inspired me to run for public office and serve our community,” said District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard. “He will be deeply missed.”

“Chris was so kind and generous and he always found time to offer me advice or to make a suggestion,” said District 3 City Councilor Adam Steiner. “When I first started to think about running for City Council, Chris immediately arranged to meet with me, talk about my background, the issues I should emphasize, and ended with a pep talk for the ages. In a couple hours, he prepared me not only to run for City Council, but to represent Framingham in the best way possible. Chris was the type of leader and person we should all emulate – kind, compassionate, and always willing to listen. His loss will be felt in Framingham and in the Commonwealth for years and years to come.”

“I truly never believed we would be reflecting on Chris’ passing, as Chris was in the business of overcoming the most challenging circumstances,” said City Councilor Mike Cannon. “Throughout my years involved in our community, when a difficult issue came up, you would always hear ‘we need to get Chris’ help with this.’ I wish I had met him sooner; I’d certainly be a better legislator, and would definitely be a better person. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man.”

“Very sad news. I always loved Chris’ approach to solving a problem. It seemed to me as if he viewed policy items through an artist’s lens. It was an unorthodox approach but whenever he explained it you could tell there was still a lot of thought, logic, and reason behind it,” said Ashland Town Manager and Framingham resident Michael Herbert.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Representative Chris Walsh. As the past year has shown us, Chris was a fighter and an eminetly decent man,” said Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo in a Tweet. ” As a Representative, he was bright, hardworking and brought his expertise as an architect to his job at the State House. Chris had a wonderful sense of humor and had a way of making everyone feel at ease around him.”

“Chris was a friend and colleague committed to his constituents and community,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. “Above all he was a gentleman of the first order.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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