Former Cambridge state Rep. Peter Vellucci dies at 72

Originally published Aug. 11, 2014 in the Cambridge Chronicle.

Known for his famous Italian meals, his love of fishing and his public service, former Cambridge state Rep. Peter Vellucci died Monday, Aug. 4, at the age of 72.

Vellucci served the East Cambridge community from 1983 until 1992, facing his toughest re-election campaign in 1988, when he defeated fellow incumbent Rep. Marie Howe (D-Somerville) after redistricting pitted the two incumbents against each other. The son of the colorful mayor emeritus Al Vellucci, Peter Vellucci’s friends said he took his father’s lessons in public service to heart.

“Peter was always interested in helping people like his father,” said Cambridge Finance Director Louis Depasquale, a close friend of the Vellucci family. “He really cared about the people he represented, especially the poorer people. He was similar to his father in that way.”

Peter Vellucci was born in Cambridge, and graduated from Newbury Junior College before serving in the U.S. Marines from 1959 to 1963, according to State House files. He established the Vellucci Insurance Agency Inc. on Cambridge Street in 1973 and often held spaghetti lunches hosted by his father in the company’s basement.

Former Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy said dignitaries, local officials and judges were often present.

“Mayor Al did all the cooking and Peter provided the kitchen and the dining area,” Healy said. “It was a really fun time.”

“Any type of meeting was always centered around food,” said state Rep. and city Councilor Timothy Toomey, who took over Peter Vellucci’s state representative seat in 1993. “It was usually simple food, but always a good meal and always home cooked.”

Peter Vellucci was well known in the East Cambridge community, where he grew up. Toomey said he would often frequent the Warren Pals Club, a fraternal organization on Warren Street with mostly Italian men. Peter Vellucci had a penchant for playing cards, and loved to go to Foxwoods Casino, Depasquale said.

“Peter loved the slots,” Depasquale said. “He could play cards with the best of them.”

He was a member of the Mystic Valley Bass Anglers, a fishing club, and took pride in owning his own boat, Depasquale said.

“We’d often joke about who was the better cook, him or his brother,” Depasquale said.

As a state representative, Toomey said Peter Vellucci was an advocate for the workingman. He was concerned with economic development and helping people with employment and housing, Toomey said, and labored to ensure the Cambridge Hospital had enough funds to serve the low-income residents of the city.

“He never sought the limelight, but just got the job done,” Toomey said. “It was mostly about working-class people and making sure the government was there for them.”

According to State House files, Vellucci served on the Public Safety Committee, the Energy Committee, the Rules Committee, and was a member of the Special Committee to Investigate the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant and the Special Commission on Elder Affairs.

He leaves behind his wife, Laura (Dupont), and six children, Teresa Vellucci, Kimberly Martin, Bridget Vellucci, Juliane Vellucci-Melo, Angela Vellucci, and Peter A. Vellucci Jr., the latter of which currently serves as a Cambridge Police officer.

His funeral was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 7, at the Donovan-Aufiero Funeral Home, 140 Otis St. in East Cambridge followed by a rite of burial at the Sacred Heart Church on Sixth Street.

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