Anthony Marcella III, 43; was an aide to Kennedys

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Bryan Marquard
Globe Staff / March 15, 2008

A career that included working as an aide to a Massachusetts House speaker and two Kennedys hardly came as a surprise to those who knew Anthony Marcella III as a child and a teenager.

"He liked politics since day one," Anthony Marcella Jr. of Wakefield said of his son. "When he was a young kid, he was always inspired by politics."

Politicians, in turn, found Mr. Marcella's dedication inspiring. From the mid-1980s, when he was an aide to George Keverian, then the House speaker, to his past few years as a consultant in Rhode Island, Mr. Marcella's loyalty and hard work left a lasting impression, friends and colleagues said.

He died Tuesday in Massachusetts General Hospital of complications arising from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with which he was diagnosed a few months ago after suffering symptoms the past couple of years. Mr. Marcella, who was 43, recently moved to Saugus to be closer to his family and had lived for many years in Newport, R.I.

"It is with a heavy heart that I bid goodbye to my dear friend, Tony Marcella," US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat, said in a statement.

Mr. Marcella was an aide when Kennedy served in the Rhode Island House, ran his first campaign for Congress, and served as his chief of staff in Washington, D.C.

"Tony was always at the center of Rhode Island politics, working behind the scenes on my campaigns and for Democrats around Rhode Island, always staying steps ahead of the issue of the day," Kennedy said. "Politics was truly in his blood, and he loved every detail. . . .. I will always be grateful to Tony for the nearly 10 years he spent as my trusted adviser and chief of staff."

Anthony Carl Marcella III grew up in Everett and graduated from Malden Catholic High School. He took classes at Boston College and Suffolk University, his father said, but the call of politics was strong. Mr. Marcella soon landed a job as an aide to Keverian.

"He worked for me as a very young man," Keverian said. "He was very valuable to me and very close to me, and I considered him a protege of mine. I relied on him a great deal."

The job also provided an introduction to the rough-and-tumble parts of politics. Mr. Marcella resigned from Keverian's staff in 1987 amid reports that a state Senate candidate gave him a $2,500 loan when Mr. Marcella promised Keverian's help in getting the candidate into law school, though no illegal activity was alleged.

Not long afterward, Mr. Marcella was back in politics, this time as an aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, whose son recalled that Mr. Marcella's first meeting was memorable.

Mr. Marcella "approached my father at a political event and, while making his pitch for a job, spilled a glass of water on him," Patrick Kennedy said in his statement. "My father told Tony to call his Senate office, which he did, and was hired."

"Tony was an able member of my staff during the 1988 campaign and was a great help to me in the years that followed," Edward Kennedy said in a statement. "He's also been a good friend to my son Patrick and has worked hard over the years for communities in both in Rhode Island and Massachusetts."

Mr. Marcella's father said that Edward Kennedy, his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, and Patrick Kennedy visited his son in Mass. General within the past several days.

While working in Washington and Rhode Island, Mr. Marcella took up residence in Newport, which became "his other passion," said Chris Vitale of Bristol, R.I., who spent several years working with him for Patrick Kennedy. "He thoroughly enjoyed living there and spending the vast amount of his time down there. He enjoyed the community and had a wide circle of friends."

When Mr. Marcella left Kennedy's staff in 2001, he began working for the Mayforth Group, a lobbying firm with offices in Providence and Washington. In early 2002, he joined the staff of Gordon Fox, who became House majority leader in Rhode Island.

Two years later he became president of Strategic Associates, a Rhode Island consulting group, and managed the unsuccessful campaign of Guillaume de Ramel in the 2006 Democratic primary for Rhode Island secretary of state.

"His loyalty and dedication was unquestioned, and his political instincts were second to none," Fox said in a prepared statement. "But what I will always remember the most about Tony was his ability to laugh and have fun."

Said Mr. Marcella's father, "He liked people. He didn't care if you were a Republican or Democrat. He was a staunch Democrat, and he'd argue forever about political views, but that didn't interfere with friendships."

In addition to his father, Mr. Marcella leaves his mother, Angela of Wakefield; and a sister, Kimberly A. Scopa of Saugus.

A funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today in Immaculate Conception Church, Everett. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett.

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