Ann Uccello, the former mayor of Hartford and the first woman to be elected mayor of a U.S. capital city, has died.
By Ronni Newton
Ann Uccello, who celebrated her 100th birthday in May 2022 and blazed many trails as a public servant during the more than a century she lived, has died.
WTNH anchor Dennis House, who has conducted many in-depth interviews with Uccello, including a feature honoring her 100th birthday, broke the news early Tuesday afternoon. According to House, Uccello’s family said she died peacefully. No further details were provided.
In her later years Ann Uccello lived in Chatfield in West Hartford, but her name will ever be synonymous with Hartford, where she has a street named in her honor and was the first female mayor not just of Hartford but of any capital city in the United States.
With a reputation as being “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” the former Republican Hartford City Council member won the city’s top elected position in 1967 and earned an 81% approval rating. She was re-elected as mayor in 1969, and although she lost a close race for a U.S. Congressional seat in 1970, she went on to serve under three different presidents in Washington, DC.
She is a member of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, and in addition to having Ann Uccello Street in Hartford named in her honor in 2008, there is a street in her father’s hometown in Italy named after her as well.
During a ceremony in 2019 honoring Uccello as one of the Malta House of Care’s “Wonder Women,” she remarked how important is to reach out and really be part of the neighborhoods, praising Malta House of Care for their use of a mobile medical van to visit neighborhoods in Hartford each week. “To give medical aid to people in the neighborhoods that need it and don’t have the resources” is so important, Uccello said at the ceremony.
In March 2022 – actually a year ago to this date – West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, and now- former Durham first selectwoman Laura Francis co-hosted a luncheon for female leaders throughout the state marking Women’s History Month, with Uccello as the guest of honor. “I was thinking about Women’s History Month and elected women leaders in Connecticut – and knowing that Mayor Uccello was approaching her 100th birthday, I thought it could be a special opportunity to bring women elected leaders (first selectwomen, mayors, presidents of councils) together for a luncheon,” Cantor said at the time.
“I reached out to Susan and she loved the idea. We wanted this to be inclusive of both parties and Laura is an experienced leader, president of COST (small town), and a Republican. The lieutenant governor reached out to her and she was excited about the idea.”
“Today Connecticut mourns the passing of a remarkable woman,” Bysiewicz said in a statement Tuesday upon learning of Uccello’s death. “Ann Uccello made history as the first woman to serve as mayor of a capital city, shattering glass ceilings and commanding attention not just here, but across the globe. A beloved mayor and trailblazer, she will be remembered for her energy, grace, and above all, her passion,” she said.
“Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when the threat of riots overcame Hartford, Ann took to the neighborhoods to speak and mourn with residents, encouraging peace. She served with a level of empathy, understanding, and care that is so needed in politics,” said Bysiewicz. “Ann Uccello was a pioneer. I admired her ground breaking work as mayor of Hartford, and one of the highest-ranking women in the Nixon administration, she leaves a legacy that has and will continue to inspire generations of women to pursue careers in politics and public service.”
Bysiewicz said she was proud to co-host Uccello’s 100th birthday celebration last May with Cantor, and was looking forward to celebrating her 101st birthday. “She will be greatly missed by myself, and so many others. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones,” Bysiewicz said.
Uccello graduated from Saint Joseph College (now the University of Saint Joseph) in 1944, and also received a Doctoral Honorary Degree in 1971 and the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1978.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of Ann Uccello’s passing,” USJ President Rhona Free said Tuesday. “She was a strong, accomplished, and fearless woman who gave her talents to the community, University and city that she loved. She inspired women to believe in and pursue their potential, and she inspired all those with whom she worked to believe that harnessing the talents of all citizens would advance the common good.”
USJ commemorated the 50th anniversary of Uccello’s election as Hartford’s mayor when they hosted “Powerful Voices: Connecticut Women Changing Democracy” on Nov. 28, 2017. The University also announced at that event the establishment of the Uccello Fund for Women’s Leadership – a fund designed to support leadership training for women.
Gov. Ned Lamont and other officials also issued statements Tuesday about the passing of Uccello.
“Ann Uccello was a trailblazer who was born and raised in Hartford and dedicated her career in public service to the city she loved,” the governor said. “She fought to expand housing, ensure that children have access to essential services, and encouraged job growth and opportunities in Hartford. She had a remarkable spirit and energy, and she leaves a lasting legacy on Connecticut’s capitol city. I extend my deepest condolences to her friends and family.”
“Born and raised in Hartford, Ann Uccello dedicated her life to public service,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said in a statement. “As the first woman to be elected mayor of a U.S. capital city and the first female mayor in Connecticut, she was a trailblazer who charted a new path for women in politics. Her legacy and lasting impact on the city of Hartford will far outlive her, and my thoughts are with her family and loved ones.”
“Ann Uccello was a remarkable woman and always a class act,” U.S. Rep. John Larson said in a statement. “She put service above self and won elections by the force of her values, determination, and dedication to the people she took an oath of office to serve.”
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