R.I.P. Edward Fogarty

Sep 7, 2017

Edward M. Fogarty, the erudite Statehouse legal counsel, patron of arts, especially Festival Ballet Providence,  and devoted sports fan, particularly of the Boston Red Sox, died of a heart attack last week while watching a Red Sox-New York Yankees game at his home in Providence. He was 69.

A burly intellectual who was a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown Law School, Fogarty was a successful Washington, D.C. lawyer before returning to his home state of Rhode Island in 1987 to become legal counsel to then House Speaker Matthew J. Smith, D-Providence. He later became counsel to the state Senate, retiring in 2013.

“He was one of the smartest people I ever knew,’’ said Charles Fogarty, his cousin and former Rhode Island lieutenant governor. “He was funny and very family-orientated. And he was a die-hard Red Sox fan.’’

A tall fellow with a flowing beard, Ed Fogarty had what his cousin Charles calls “eclectic” interests, particularly for someone absorbed in the Statehouse political axis. He was a ballet, theater and history buff and proud of his Irish-American heritage.

Fogarty was the nephew of former U.S. Rep. John Fogarty, a bricklayer and labor union leader who became a celebrated Congressman and influential member of the Democratic House leadership until his untimely death from heart disease at age 53. Fogarty was chairman of the House Labor Committee who was a mentor to a young congressman from Boston, John F. Kennedy, who would later serve Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate and become the first Roman Catholic elected to the presidency in 1960.

Fogarty leaves his wife, Gail Higgins Fogarty, longtime legal counsel to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, his brother, former State Rep. Ray Fogarty and three sisters.

Fogarty was a benefactor, long-serving trustee and former board president of Festival Ballet Providence. The ballet company announced today that the 2017-2018 season, the 40th anniversary of  Festival will be dedicated to Fogarty’s memory.

“Ed had a great eye for dance and he related to much of the work we do here,” said Misha Djuric, ballet artistic director. “I know that Ed was looking forward to this season and everything we have planned. It’s going to be bittersweet for the company to perform knowing Ed would have loved to be there.”

He an his wife also enjoyed theater, frequently attending plays at Trinity Repertory Theater in Providence and Second Story Theater in Warren.

Fogarty was a familiar presence at Fenway Park, rarely missing an opening day game. He had a keen appreciation for baseball and was a trove for trivia and baseball history. He often charted plays, keeping score as he watched the game.

He was a former chief steward of the Rhode Island Sons of Irish Kings.

“While he was a very smart guy, he never let people know it,’’ said Charles Fogarty. “He never had to prove that he was the smartest guy in the room.”

Visiting hours are Monday, September 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Skeffington Funeral Home, 925 Chalkstone Avenue, Providence. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, September 12 at the Church of St. Sebastian, 57 Cole Avenue, Providence. Contributions in Fogarty’s honor can be made to the Festival Ballet at 825 Hope Street, Providence 02906.