Lawmakers and state officials are mourning the death of Louis R. Rell, the retired airline pilot and husband of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell for more than 45 years. He was 73.
Rell was an unassuming, low-key supporter of his wife who largely stayed out of the public spotlight during her 6 1/2 years as governor. But behind the scenes, Mr. Rell was a sharp student of politics who understood the nuances of the political game in the state of Connecticut.
Rell had surgery in November 2007 to remove a small, cancerous growth on his esophagus.
Rell had been diagnosed with Barrett\’s Disease – a chronic reflux disease characterized by inflammation of the esophagus. After a hospital stay, he returned to his Brookfield home and later started making regular appearances at the governor\’s mansion and other locations as his health was restored.
\”Healthwise, he\’s great,\’\’ the governor told reporters after the surgery more than six years ago. \”He gets tired easily. Like most men, he thinks when you say, \’take it easy, rest,\’ that that doesn\’t apply to him.\’\’
Rell had the same cancer and surgery as former House Speaker James Amann – leading to detailed conversations between the two about the disease and a variety of issues.
State Republican chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. said, “As a pilot in the U.S. Navy and as Connecticut’s first spouse, Lou’s life was dedicated to the support of others. He served our state and our nation with a silent humility that commanded the admiration of all who met him. His humor and his charm will be greatly missed.\’\’
He added, “Lou Rell\’s service to our state, our nation, and our party will not soon be forgotten.\’\’
Labriola\’s counterpart, state Democratic chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, described Rell as \”a great man who served his state and his country.”
Governor Malloy said, “Lou was devoted to his family, and their loss is felt by countless people throughout our state. Governor Rell, her family, and the Brookfield community will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.”
Lt. Governor Wyman, a friend of Jodi Rell, said, “I was very fortunate to have known Lou Rell for many years. He was a man of integrity, humor, and commitment, and his passing is a tremendous loss. Lou was devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and an important source of support to his family and friends. My deepest sympathy goes out to Governor Rell and her family – we hold them in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
Early Sunday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, \”A man of grace, charm and cheer, his common sense insight added immeasurably to our public life. He was devoted passionately to his country and community, and to Governor Rell. My heart goes out to his wonderful family.\’\’
State Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield said, \”Lou Rell was a gentle and kind man who served his country honorably and, most importantly, was the loving patriarch of a beautiful family. My thoughts and prayers are with the Rell family, especially my friend, Governor Jodi Rell. The marriage and partnership she shared with Lou for more than 45 years sustained them both in good times and bad and was truly something to behold. I am deeply saddened for her loss.\”