John N. Dempsey

John Noel Dempsey (January 3, 1915 – July 16, 1989), was an American politician 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
John Dempsey Connecticut.jpg
81st Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 21, 1961 – January 6, 1971
LieutenantAnthony J. Armentano
Samuel J. Tedesco
Fred J. Doocy
Attilio R. Frassinelli
Preceded byAbraham Ribicoff
Succeeded byThomas Meskill
94th Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
In office
January 1959 – January 21, 1961
GovernorAbraham Ribicoff
Preceded byCharles Jewett
Succeeded byAnthony J. Armentano
Personal details
John Noel Dempsey

(1915-01-03)January 3, 1915
Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland
DiedJuly 16, 1989(1989-07-16) (aged 74)
Killingly, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Mary Frey (m. 1940)
EducationProvidence College


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 careerEdit

In 1936, at the age of 21, Dempsey was elected to the Putnam City Council, and in 1948, he began the first of six terms as mayor. He was elected to the Connecticut 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 94th 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] 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. 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 Association Executive Committee from 1968 to 1969; also chaired the New England Governors Association from 1963 to 1965 and the Democratic Governors Association 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 legacyEdit

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 at Killingly Center, Windham County, Connecticut. He is interred at Saint Mary Cemetery, Putnam, Windham County, Connecticut.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "John N. Dempsey". Connecticut State Library. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  2. ^ "John N. Dempsey". National Governors Association. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  3. ^ "John N. Dempsey". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2012.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Jewett
Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Anthony J. Armentano
Preceded by
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Thomas Meskill
Party political offices
Preceded by
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut
1962, 1966
Succeeded by
Emilio Q. Daddario
Preceded by
Robert Evander McNair
Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Robert W. Scott