'She Was Known as Ella'; Biography of Connecticut's First Female Governor Details Character, Charisma

By DeMatteo, Ann | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), March 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

'She Was Known as Ella'; Biography of Connecticut's First Female Governor Details Character, Charisma


DeMatteo, Ann, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


By Jordan Fenster

Register Staff jfenster@nhregister.com

Ask West Haven's Jon Purmont what set Ella Tambussi Grasso apart from other governors, and he'll tell you: "She demonstrated the importance of personal attention to people."

Heads turned when Grasso came into a room, Purmont said, and not because she was wearing the latest styles or set herself as aloof from her contemporaries -- quite the opposite.

"Ella's charisma was not that she was wearing fancy dresses and had a fancy hairdo," Purmont said during a recent interview. "She was known as Ella."

More than 30 years after Grasso's death, Purmont has written what may be the first piece of scholarly work on the state's first female governor, using interviews, documents and his own personal recollections of working as the governor's personal assistant.

"Ella Grasso: Connecticut's Pioneering Governor," to be released later this year, is being published by Wesleyan University Press which, Purmont agreed, is a bit ironic.

When Grasso was elected to a second term in office, Purmont was hired as her personal assistant, having met the governor while working with then-West Haven Mayor Bob Johnson. His introduction into life in Grasso's employ was a staff meeting at which the issue of the Wesleyan commencement was raised.

Grasso had received an invitation to speak, even though students were lobbying for Jane Fonda instead. As Purmont recalled, it was a "period of unrest" on many college campuses, and Grasso wasn't sure she should accept.

"I advised her to go forward with it, and take the brickbats as they came," Purmont said, which turned out to be the right thing to do. "She gave her talk and she got fan mail for months afterward."

Her speech, as Purmont recalled, was filled with light hearted humor, which was typical of the governor, and a major part of her charm. But it was the ground she broke as a female governor, the repeated demonstration of leadership qualities and her ability to communicate with her constituents that made Grasso a Connecticut icon.

"She showed an enormous amount of leadership in all kinds of situations," he said.

Perhaps the best example is the Blizzard of '78, which dumped several feet of snow on the state. Grasso made the controversial decision to close the state down -- shutting down the roads by proclamation -- to minimize accidents and make way for emergency vehicles.

As a result, storm-related fatalities in Connecticut were significantly lower than in surrounding states and, ultimately, Grasso's decision was hailed as a wise one, and the basis for future emergency response situations, according to Purmont.

"In the long run, it was the smart thing to do," he said. "It was that kind of leadership people expected of her. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'She Was Known as Ella'; Biography of Connecticut's First Female Governor Details Character, Charisma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.