The Passing of Congressman Joe Moakley


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF)  202/939-3106202/939-3106 or


(WASHINGTON, DC — May 29, 2001) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) mourns the loss of U.S. Representative Joe Moakley (D-MA). He died May 28 at Bethesda Naval Hospital of complications from leukemia. He was 74 years old.

“Rep. Joe Moakley was not only an outstanding legislator, but a true friend of everyone whose lives he touched. He was proud of his heritage. We at the NIAF lost a great humane friend, ” said Frank J. Guarini, NIAF chairman.

“He was a class act. The NIAF was pleased to honor Rep. Moakley last August in Los Angeles,” said Joseph R. Cerrell, NIAF president.

In 1952, when Rep. Moakley was 25, he was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature where he served both in the House and Senate. In 1971, he won a seat on the Boston City Council and one year later, Moakley was elected to represent the 9th district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served 15 terms in Congress and was the former chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, serving from 1989 until 1995.

Rep. Moakley also became a major force concerning Latin America policy, especially in El Salvador. He instigated investigations that exposed the involvement of the army of El Salvador in the slaying of the nuns and Jesuit priests in that country in 1989. Rep. Moakley led congressional battles to cut off aid to El Salvador and was credited as a major influence in pushing El Salvador toward democracy.

Rep. Moakley was born, raised and lived his entire life in South Boston’s Ward 7. His mother, Mary Scappini, was of Italian descent. At age 15, Moakley enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation dedicated to promoting the contributions of Italian Americans. The Foundation has a wide-range of programs that provide scholarships and grants, legislative internships in Congress, conferences and cultural seminars.
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