Robert Kennedy once observed that "the future does not belong to those who are content with today, but to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of American society."
He might well have written those words about the person and public career of Kevin B. Harrington (1929-2008). A native of Salem, Massachusetts, and a member of a venerable and formidable political family, Kevin Harrington lived a life of distinguished public service beginning with his election to the Salem City Council in 1957, followed by 10 successive terms in the Massachusetts State Senate, including its Presidency from 1971-1979.
Armed with uncommon intellectual acuity and old-fashioned Irish wit, he scored many legislative victories for education. He was a leader in the effort to gain fiscal autonomy for the University of Massachusetts and played a key role in the establishment of a new Department of Education in Massachusetts. His personal courage was frequently evident in the state senate, and perhaps never more so than when he led a courageous and successful charge to defeat popular death penalty legislation.
In this past decade, Kevin Harrington served admirably as a member of Saint Anselm College Board of Trustees and was instrumental in the creation of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. His passion for and active involvement in the development of a civic education program that will engage young people in the practice of good citizenship will be an enduring legacy for the Institute. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, he was a man who combined his deep faith with public service in a way that will serve as an example for future generations.
Image credit: A painted portrait of Kevin B. Harrington, former Massachusetts Senate president, hangs in the Senate library.