PROVIDENCE - Of the thousands of political speeches Vincent “Buddy’’ Cianci Jr., former Providence mayor, has given over his career, he was thinking that Tuesday’s, a eulogy for his 38-year-old daughter, would be the hardest.
Cianci had not been scheduled to speak, but it was easier than he had expected. He told the few hundred mourners at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Providence that he had taken strength from the outpouring of support his family has received since Nicole Cianci died last week.
“No parent should bury a child,’’ he said. “This is not supposed to happen.’’
Buddy Cianci - Providence’s longest-serving mayor and one of its most enduring personalities - recalled snapshots of his life with Nicole: how he shouted, “It’s a girl!’’ in the hospital hallway with tears streaming down his face when she was born. How she was a sight to see riding her pony along Blackstone Boulevard. How he taught her to drive, a feat that he said should have earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
He even spoke of how his daughter never liked any of his girlfriends following his divorce from Nicole’s mother, until, that is, they broke up, and Nicole became fast friends with them, complicating his life.
He also recalled her mischievous side and said she “lived her life like a burst of thunder.’’
“She had a heart that was never big enough for all her passion,’’ Cianci said.
Nicole Cianci was found dead in her Providence apartment on Friday from what police say was an apparent overdose. An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death, but a state Health Department spokeswoman said results could take up to three months.
She had three children.
Nicole Cianci’s “unfinished life,’’ as Buddy Cianci called it, has thrust one of Rhode Island’s best-known figures back into the spotlight, though in a way he never really left it.
The 70-year-old hosts a popular radio talk show on WPRO-AM on which he weighs in on the city he led with a larger-than-life personality for more than two decades.
He called his memoir, which came out last year, “Politics and Pasta: How I Prosecuted Mobsters, Rebuilt a Dying City, Dined with Sinatra, Spent Five Years in a Federally Funded Gated Community, and Lived to Tell the Tale.’’
Cianci was first elected in 1974 and was forced from office 10 years later after admitting he assaulted a man he believed was having an affair with his estranged wife.
He won reelection in 1990 and oversaw a renaissance of the capital, but he resigned again in 2002 after a conviction on corruption charges.
Nicole Cianci underwent drug treatment in Rhode Island that same year. Her father was reassigned to a federal prison in New Jersey so he could be closer to her while she was in treatment.