WOONSOCKET â Former U.S. Congressman Fernand J. âFreddyâ St Germain, a favorite son of the city who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful men in the country, has died.
Family members said he passed away at home in Newport on Saturday of kidney failure. He was 86 years old.
The son of a mill worker, St Germain was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs for much of his tenure in Congress but his political career in state and local government spanned more than three decades, from 1952 to 1988. He was a New Frontier Democrat first elected to the U.S. House in 1960, the same year a former congressman from neighboring Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was elected president of the United States. The two Democrats considered each other friends.
St Germain also served in the state House of Representatives for 11 years before he was elected to the first of 14 terms in Congress.
Back home, St Germain had a reputation as an attentive and dutiful public servant who was known for bringing home the bacon. He used his legislative clout to make housing accessible to the elderly and the poor in an era of declining factory jobs. Two high rises for senior citizens in the Blackstone Valley, one in Pawtucket and another on Privilege Street, are named in his honor.
âHe was a true champion of the elderly,â said former Mayor Charles Baldelli. âHe took thousands of families out of cold water flats and put them in safe, decent, secure housing.â
Read the rest of the story in The Call on Tuesday.