Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1957-1961
As Governor, Foster Furcolo was a strong advocate for constructing a system of regional community colleges. He was also the Commonwealth's first Governor of Italian-American heritage.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Furcolo graduated from Yale in 1933 and Yale Law in 1936. The son of a surgeon, he began a private legal practice and served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946. He was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-first and Eighty-second Congresses (1949-1952), serving until he was elected State Treasurer (1952-1954). He lost a 1954 campaign for the U.S. Senate, but won the 1956 gubernatorial race, defeating Charles Gibbons by a wide margin.
During his two administrations, Furcolo, who lived in Longmeadow, lobbied on behalf of the idea of regional community colleges. State workers salaries, workman's compensation and unemployment benefits were all increased during his service as Governor. He also opposed the idea of establishing the historic Shirley Mansion as an official governor's residence. He declined to run for reelection and mounted another campaign for the U.S. Senate. He returned to private law practice, serving occasionally on an advisory committee for the Attorney General. From 1975-1989, Furcolo served as an administrative law judge for the United States Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.