Ella Tambussi Grasso (May 10, 1919 - February 5, 1981)

Grasso was the first woman elected governor of Connecticut. She was also the first female to be elected governor of a U.S. state "in her own right," as stated by the Hartford Courant. Grasso was born in Windsor Locks, Conn. In 1952, she was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly and served there until 1957. From 1958 to 1970 she served as Connecticut's Secretary of the State. In 1970, Grasso was elected to her first of two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1974, Grasso re-entered state politics and was elected governor. Over the course of her tenure as governor, Grasso's leadership was tested in the face of budget shortfalls, fiscal problems, and state layoffs. During the historic "Blizzard of 1978," she stayed at the State Armory around the clock, directing emergency operations and making regular television appearances. Her decision to shut down all roads and businesses in the state by official proclamation allowed emergency workers to perform essential services without worrying about stranded motorists, and allowed the state to get back up and running again within a few days. In 1980, Grasso was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ill-health forced her to resign from her post in December of that year. Grasso died in Hartford.
Harry Batz/Hartford Courant
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